Anne Atik and her husband, the distinguished Israeli painter Avigdor Arika, were part of Samuel Beckett's circle in Paris from the 1950s until the latter's death in 1989. How It Was is a personal record of Beckett the man, whose reticence and privacy were paradoxically amonghis most famous traits. What is less well-known is Beckett's gift for company and friendship, and this book is a testament to the many facets of his often enigmatic personality.Anne Atik began jotting down conversations with Beckett in 1970, and these document his interests and passions - for chess, for sport, for music, and above all his deep knowledge of literature in several languages. Atik's recollections deal in minute particulars - details of dress, evenings in and nights out in Montparnasse. She recalls the classical recordings to which Beckett preferred to listen, the passages he would quote and re-quote from the poets, the paintings he admired, the touchstones by which he measured himself and others. The memoir is complemented by facsimiles of unpublished Beckett letters, family photographs and some of Avigdor Arikha's intimate portrait drawings of the playwright.
Anne Atik was first introduced to Samuel Beckett in 1959 by her future husband, the celebrated artist Avigdor Arikha. Until Beckett's death in 1989, Atik was part of the small and intimate circle of friends that supported and protected the privacy of this most reclusive writer. This memoir is a record of their friendship, recalling conversations and silences, evenings spent in restaurants and bars or listening to music in Atik's home, discussions about poetry and art, and much more. What emerges is a tender portrait, not only of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, but of a kind, gentle and generous man. Although not intended as a critical study of Beckett's work, Atik's book occasionally illuminates the literary, artistic and musical influences behind some of Beckett's great works. Atik's touching memoir makes no claims to be an exhaustive biography, but admirers of this extraordinary man and unique writer will find in these recollections an intimate portrait not available elsewhere. It should be read alongside James Knowlson's comprehensive and authorised biography, Damned to Fame. The book is generously illustrated with photographs of Beckett, facsimiles of his letters to Atik and Arikha, and with Arikha's powerful sketches of the writer. (Kirkus UK)