1 Università degli Studi di Roma «Tor Vergata» Editori Laterza University Press on line
2 2009, Università degli Studi di Roma «Tor Vergata» - Gius. Laterza & Figli Prima edizione 2009 Questo volume è pubblicato con il contributo del Dipartimento di Studi Filologici, Linguistici e Letterari dell Università degli Studi di Roma «Tor Vergata» Tutte le pubblicazioni «Tor Vergata» - Laterza University Press on line sono valutate dal Comitato Scientifico e quindi sottoposte al giudizio di referees esterni, individuati dal Comitato Scientifico fra i maggiori esperti internazionali, secondo criteri di peer-review.
3 Daniela Guardamagna Rossana M. Sebellin (editors) The Tragic Comedy of Samuel Beckett Beckett in Rome April 2008 Università degli Studi di Roma «Tor Vergata» Editori Laterza
4 Proprietà letteraria riservata Università degli Studi di Roma «Tor Vergata» - Gius. Laterza & Figli Spa, Roma-Bari Finito di stampare nell ottobre 2009 SEDIT - Bari (Italy) per conto della Gius. Laterza & Figli Spa ISBN È vietata la riproduzione, anche parziale, con qualsiasi mezzo effettuata, compresa la fotocopia, anche ad uso interno o didattico. Per la legge italiana la fotocopia è lecita solo per uso personale purché non danneggi l autore. Quindi ogni fotocopia che eviti l acquisto di un libro è illecita e minaccia la sopravvivenza di un modo di trasmettere la conoscenza. Chi fotocopia un libro, chi mette a disposizione i mezzi per fotocopiare, chi comunque favorisce questa pratica commette un furto e opera ai danni della cultura.
5 Index Preface Daniela Guardamagna and Rossana M. Sebellin: Introduction IX XI Beckett and Italy John Pilling, Beckett and Italian Literature (after Dante) 5 Daniela Caselli, The Politics of Reading Dante in Beckett s Mercier and / et Camier and The Calmative / Le calmant 20 Self-Translation, and the Genesis of Beckett s Writing Rossana M. Sebellin, Bilingualism and Bi-textuality: Samuel Beckett s Double Texts 39 Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon, Beckett s Library From Marginalia to Notebooks 57 The Anxiety of Influence: Beckett and the Cultural Context Mary Bryden, Hommage furtif : Cixous s Difficult Love of Beckett 75 Heather Gardner, Company 86 Roberta Cauchi Santoro, Marinetti and Beckett: A Theatrical Continuum 103
6 VI Index Davide Crosara, Breathing the Void 113 Mariacristina Cavecchi, Samuel Beckett, Visual Artist 122 Iain Bailey, Beckett, Drama, and the Writing on the Wall 143 Mario Faraone, Pity we haven t a piece of rope : Beckett, Zen and the Lack of a Piece of Rope 156 Beckett and Philosophers Carla Locatelli, Ways of Beckett s Poems: il se passe devant / allant sans but 177 David Tucker, Murphy, Geulincx and an Occasional(ist) Game of Chess 190 David Addyman, Beckett and Place: The Lie of the Land 210 Shane Weller, The Art of Indifference: Adorno s Manuscript Notes on The Unnamable 223 Lorenzo Orlandini, A Limbo purged of desire : Body and Sexuality in Beckett s Dream of Fair to Middling Women 238 Beckett s Theatre: Text and Performances A. Text Enoch Brater, The Seated Figure on Beckett s Stage 259 Chris Ackerley, The Past in Monochrome : (In)voluntary Memory in Samuel Beckett s Krapp s Last Tape 277 Hugo Bowles, The Untellability of Stories in Endgame 292 Patrizia Fusella, Chamber Music and Camera Trio: Samuel Beckett s Second Television Play 305 B. Performances Stanley E. Gontarski, Redirecting Beckett 327
7 Index VII Daniela Guardamagna, Cecchi s Endgame, and the Question of Fidelity 342 Rosemary Pountney, Stringent Demands: Aspects of Beckett in Performance 355 Laura Caretti, Winnie s Italian Stage 364 Anastasia Deligianni, Friendgame 375 Beckett and Cinema Lino Belleggia, The Indiscreet Charm of the Cinematic Eye in Samuel Beckett s Film 389 Seb Franklin, as from an evil core... the evil spread : Beckett and Horror Cinema 405 Appendix: Performances and Images Giulia Lazzarini, Remembering Happy Days 417 Ninny Aiuto, Aspittannu a Godot 426 Antonio Borriello, Beckett the Euclidean (as is he who interprets him) 430 Bill Prosser, Beckett s Doodles 435 Notes on Contributors 437 Index of Works by Samuel Beckett 449 Index of Names and Works 453
9 Preface Daniela Guardamagna and Rossana M. Sebellin The essays collected in this volume were presented at the Conference Beckett in Rome, held at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in April Though not all the speakers decided to present a written paper, and though one paper had to be excluded because it incorporated extended quotes from unpublished materials and was therefore unacceptable to the Beckett Estate, we present here a wide range of critical approaches, with contributions from the most outstanding Beckett scholars and many younger ones from all over the world. This volume collects 31 of the 41 papers presented; the appendix bears witness to some interesting performances and exhibitions hosted in the three days of the Conference. We thank the Scientific Committee, in particular John Pilling and Chris Ackerley, whose support and invaluable advice have made this volume possible; our colleagues at Tor Vergata ; the organizing committee, in particular Dr Lucia Nigri, Giuseppina Zannoni, Claudia Fimiani and Pamela Parenti for their unremitting help in organising the Conference; PhD students of our Department Rachele Calisti, Daniela Coramusi, Alessandra D Atena, Valeria Vallucci, Claudio Cadeddu, Massimiliano Catoni and Alessandro Cifariello, who helped in various ways during the Conference; Mr Roberto Mancini and Ms Eleonora Piacenza for their work on the website and logistics of the Conference; the International Relations Office of Tor Vergata ; Angela Gibbon, who helped with the revision of some of the texts, and, last but by no means least, the two indefatigable referees, who must remain anonymous, but whose discerning and untiring judgement corrected many of our faults.
11 Introduction Daniela Guardamagna and Rossana M. Sebellin* In the past decade Beckett studies have responded to the recent interest in genetic studies and have made extensive use of manuscripts and drafts to widen and deepen the area of analysis, a process precipitated by the publication of James Knowlson s groundbreaking biography, which drew attention to numerous hitherto barely studied manuscripts 1. The attention to variants of composition, to the concrete stratification of handwritten or typed texts, can be recognized as a legacy of the Reading school, where young scholars are invited to dwell on this approach. At the Beckett International Foundation in Reading, and with the encouragement of James Knowlson and John Pilling, I, among others, began the study of self-translation from a genetic perspective and included manuscript analysis in my approach to the problem. The use of unpublished documents (manuscript, letters, notebooks and the holdings of Beckett s library) was in a sense authorized by Beckett himself, not only for the obvious reason that he made his materials available to scholars, but also and especially because of his own attention to the process of writing, so often incorporated in the text as an integral element, a theme, an object of observation in itself. It comes as no surprise, then, that many papers in the present book attribute enormous importance to manuscripts, letters, notebooks, marginalia and the like in order to achieve a deeper, multi-layered reading of Beckett s work. * The first part of this Introduction, concerning the first four sections, is by Rossana M. Sebellin; the second part, about the last three, is by Daniela Guardamagna. For the attribution of the entire volume, see Notes, p Dirk Van Hulle, 2005, Genetic Beckett Studies, in Idem (editor), Beckett the European, 2005, Journal of Beckett Studies Books, Tallahassee (Florida), pp. 1-9, p. 2.
12 XII Introduction This is especially true of the first four sections of this publication: Beckett and Italy, Self-translation and the genesis of Beckett s writing, The Anxiety of Influence: Beckett and the cultural context and Beckett and philosophers. The last three sections of the publication are devoted specifically to Beckett s performing genres, theatre both as text and on stage and cinema: Beckett s theatre: text and performances, and Beckett and cinema. An Appendix closes this collective effort and testifies to several performances which were an important part of the Conference and therefore we consider appropriate for the Proceedings, in spite of their non-academic character. The first section, Beckett and Italy, includes the significant contributions of John Pilling and Daniela Caselli: both are concerned with Beckett s literary engagement with Italian culture. John Pilling explores the author s first encounters with Italian poets at Trinity College Dublin during the 1920s, and his later contacts with lesser known contemporary poets. Pilling makes use of letters, notes and annotated texts to discuss a subject which has rarely been extended much beyond Dante, including not only the Italian literary canon which Beckett studied as an undergraduate at TCD (Pe - trarch, Ariosto, Tasso, Leopardi, D Annunzio, to name but a few), but also such contemporary and less internationally known figures as Sbarbaro, Franchi and Comisso. Daniela Caselli, with her deep knowledge of Dante and the problem of intertextuality in Beckett, shows the subtle and at times faint traces of literary presences. Caselli extends her analysis to reveal the interest Beckett had in other figures of the Italian literary canon, such as Carducci, Leopardi, D Annunzio, Machiavelli and Ariosto; and she poses the problem of comparativism and intertextuality as a political exploration of how authority circulates in the works that are being compared. (An important potential contribution by Séan Lawlor, which indicated some stimulating links between Beckett s poems hors crâne and dread nay and Dante, unfortunately could not be published here, since it relies extensively on quotations from unpublished materials which were denied authorization by the Beckett Estate.) The second session, Self-translation and the genesis of Beckett s writing, was opened by my paper describing the problem of self-translation in the case study of the double versions of Play and Not I, and suggests envisaging the status of duplicated origi-
13 Introduction XIII nality for such texts (rather than the more frequent definition of original and secondary version), adding this to the instances of exhaustion, impasse and suspicion of the truth of language. Mark Nixon and Dirk Van Hulle present their work (in progress) on the digitalization of Beckett s marginalia through the excavation of the author s library: Beckett s wide knowledge of European culture and the ways in which this filters into his literary production may be read as a form of intertextual translation, which Nixon and Van Hulle explore from various perspectives. The third section, Beckett and the cultural context, includes seven contributions. Mary Bryden examines the relationship between Beckett and Hélène Cixous from the point of view of the French writer s attitude to her Irish-French contemporary; Bryden also develops an acute analysis of the elusive yet deep textual correspondences and persistent Beckettian echoes in Cixous work, not only as textual residua, but also as a subterranean attitude to the act of writing. The following papers consider Beckett s work in the light of the influence of modern writers and thinkers. Heather Gardner s contribution on Company examines the influence on Beckett s work of the philosopher and linguist Fritz Mauthner, as well as the development of a tendency to incorporate heterogeneous literary elements and to obliterate the thinking and narrating subject. The following two authors deal with different but equally unusual connections: the possible relations between Beckett and avant-garde theatre, and Romantic poetry. Roberta Cauchi Santoro s paper investigates the hypothesis of a relationship between Marinetti and Beckett, suggesting that the theatre of the Italian avant-garde and that of Beckett may share a common ground. Davide Crosara examines the influence of Milton and Romantic poetry on Beckett s later prose and drama: an unusual, yet convincing analysis of the author s capacity for assimilation and incorporation of the literary tradition, even of the writings most apparently distant from his style. Crosara argues that the composition of the later plays and short prose has its origins in a persistent and deep-rooted relation with the Romantic tradition, and he thus proposes a postmodernist perspective on such aspects of Beckett s work. A peculiar kind of influence is that considered by Mariacristina Cavecchi, who concentrates on an ideal museum of chairs in
14 XIV Introduction Beckett s works. Beckett s profound response to painting is the basis for Cavecchi s exploration of the bond between the visual and verbal in Beckett s theatre: from Waiting for Godot to Rockaby, she evokes a gallery of paintings and images from the Italian Renaissance to contemporary painters, ranging from Antonello da Messina and Michelangelo to Jack B. Yeats, Edvard Munch and Francis Bacon, looming in the background. The starting point of the last two papers in this section is to be found in religious thought and texts. Iain Bailey again focuses on the problem of intertextuality, in particular the presence of biblical elements in Beckett. He argues that [Beckett s] writing constructed upon other writings allows the biblical to be operative in more nuanced ways, to engage with the more searching questions about presence and materiality. Mario Faraone employs Zen Buddhism as a critical tool to read Beckett s noluntas and failure to act, especially in the early dramatic works. The section on Beckett and philosophers reflects not only how greatly Beckett was influenced by philosophers, but also the presence of Beckett in modern thought and the way in which the phenomenon Beckett changed the approach of philosophers to the philosophical canon, bearing in mind the fact that Beckett incorporates philosophy, transforming it, as Adorno writes, into residue and detritus. Carla Locatelli opens the session with a challenging essay in which she formulates the convincing hypothesis, over and above Beckett s other stylistic developments, of a deconstructive stance present in his poetry throughout his literary career. Locatelli envisages a deconstructive realism, which deprives any textual utterance of cognitive and semantic stability. David Tucker shows the influence of the Occasionalist philosopher Arnold Geulincx not only on Beckett s novels Murphy and The Unnamable, but also as yet another intertextual presence resurfacing throughout the author s life, echoed in letters and conversations, and reverberating in later works such as Rockaby and Film. In a paper on Beckett s prose, David Addyman posits the importance of an approach to works such as Murphy, The Unnamable and Watt based on space as a philosophical concept, following the basic Aristotelian assumption of place as a static surface at the limits of the physical body which paradoxically [...] initiates a marginalisation of place. Addyman
15 Introduction XV claims that in Beckett s work, the provision of place always exists in tension with its withholding. Shane Weller s paper is concerned with Adorno s critical writings on Beckett and, even more interestingly, with his unwritten essay on The Unnamable, of which various notes remain as marginalia to his German translation of the work, and which Weller analyses. Here again we are faced with the use of marginalia in an effort to establish a deeper understanding of Adorno s attitude to Beckett s prose and the relation between his prose and his drama. Weller argues that Adorno not only fails to establish a clear distinction between Beckett s novels and his plays [...] but himself works against the very distinction that he proposes, thus stretching the process of indifferentiation between novel and drama, narrative and theory, literature and philosophy. Lorenzo Orlandini s paper deals with Beckett s treatment of sexuality in his early fiction, in particular Dream of Fair to Middling Women. Beckett s early attitude towards sex is to be compared to his more general vision of desire as opposed to the happier condition of perfect indifference, in a sort of Limbo purged of desire. The fifth section, on Beckett s theatre, comprises papers on the texts themselves and on individual performances, shedding light on general topics such as the dialectic of fidelity and innovation, and describing unusual ways of performing plays that have by now attained the status of classics. Many of the papers concerning Beckett s drama, as text and in performance, focus on or have a background concern with the relationship of Beckett with traditional forms, concepts and structures, and the use that he makes of canonical solutions, often not rejecting, but incorporating them, investigating their limits. Enoch Brater s essay, for instance, examines an essential feature of Beckett s drama, the use of the sitting figure from the earliest works about Belacqua to the latest dramaticules, revealing an attitude typical of Beckett s dialectic with the tradition he inherits: celebrating it in the very process of transporting it. Beckett studies, interiorises, excavates it, strips it of every detail and carries it to its utmost limit. To analyse his topic of the sitting figure in drama, Brater brings into play both his vast knowledge of European drama and his consummate ability to discover surprising connections. He analyses this figure in Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov,
16 XVI Introduction Strindberg, Tennessee Williams, Caryl Churchill, Albee, Shepard and Pinter, finding its origin for Beckett in Strindberg (Blin s production of Ghost Sonata which he saw with Suzanne in 1949), in Walter von der Vogelweide, in the pictures he loved (from Medieval and Renaissance Madonnas to Van Gogh, Bacon and LeBrocquy). His analysis covers most of Beckett s plays and some of his prose: Godot, Endgame, Happy Days, Rockaby, Come and Go, Ohio Impromptu, The Calmative, Eh Joe, Film and other dramaticules, showing how the stark novelty of Beckett s solutions is in fact a rethinking of the canon and its incorporation. Chris Ackerley s study is a fascinating exploration of voluntary and involuntary memory in Beckett s work. He identifies the surprising persistence in later years, in different media and with new technological solutions of the Proustian equation postulated by Beckett in his 1931 essay on Proust. Contrasting the monochrome rationality of voluntary memory with the rich nuances of the involuntary, Ackerley identifies the recurrence of themes in Beckett from the early essay on Proust to the works of the Seventies and Eighties. Krapp, he writes, works as a template for successive plays and novels; involuntary memory, shown to be much more fertile than rational voluntary memory, is however denied the cathartic value it has in both Proust and Joyce: the experience is shared, but its transcendental value is denied, and the failure of the old aesthetic is a cornerstone of the creation of Beckett s aesthetic of failure. Hugo Bowles contributes a linguistic/pragmatics based analysis of Endgame, an interactional discursive approach through which the strategies of ordinary, non-literary conversation are generally discussed. After briefly summarizing the most recent approaches of this kind of research, Bowles concentrates on three storytelling episodes in Endgame, the more or less successful storytelling between Nell and Nagg (the Ardennes story, the Lake Como and the Tailor stories) and Hamm s chronicle. He discusses the cooperative and uncooperative behaviour of the storytellers, describes the highly disjointed effect that results from this, and concludes that Beckett s skill is in subverting the mechanisms of ordinary storytelling behaviour to produce stories in which tellability merges into untellability. Patrizia Fusella s paper focuses on the little-analysed and possibly underrated relationship between Beckett s Ghost Trio and Beethoven s Piano Trio N. 5 in D Major, which Beckett uses in his
17 Introduction XVII second television play. As in Brater s and Ackerley s papers, we are shown the interest Beckett had in a traditional form (in this case the chamber music he loved), and the way in which such a form is taken, modified and sometimes deconstructed for his own ends. In a situation that reminds us of other Beckettian impasses (I am thinking especially of the first television play Eh Joe ), the frustrated wait of the male Figure for a she to arrive, commented on by a female Voice, is interrupted by the character listening to music. Fusella investigates the possibility of solace or redemption through music, and shows its essential function, through the symmetrical repetition of sound and action, in creating the structure of the play. In the papers on performances, the key concept is the dialectic between fidelity and innovation. It is, of course, obvious that when confronted with an author as exacting and precise as is Beckett in his stage directions and in his requirements of both directors and actors and who in his plays tends towards the condition of music on one hand and the visual arts on the other, a bold modification of his requirements, frequent in avant-garde and fringe performances, risks destroying the object itself. Stanley E. Gontarski s paper describes various highly experimental productions which were staged in the United States, Canada and Brazil, mostly reproducing the Beckettian text as it is, with its own precise rhythms and solutions, immersed in new contexts: installations, environments, videos, photographs, objects, and performance pieces, among which it is inserted, heightening the quality of a hybrid performance based on words and plastic art (which, on the other hand, is a characteristic of the original text). Such experiments, Gontarski argues, subtract Beckett s work from the taming which could be caused by the simple repetition of what has already been done, and create a Beckett for the 21 st century. My own paper, concerned with a more orthodox kind of performance, also tackles the question of fidelity and the need to find new ways of performing something which has already been performed to perfection, taking as an exemplary case study the highly stimulating production of Finale di partita (Endgame) by Carlo Cecchi. Rosemary Pountney also dwells on the problem of combining fidelity to Beckett with novelty, and due respect for the dialogic interchange between text and stage directions, concluding that fidelity is especially important when staging the Minimalist
18 XVIII Introduction plays of the last period. She analyses the problems actors and actresses have had to cope with when acting these plays, and relates her own experience when performing Not I and Rockaby. Laura Caretti s paper describes various Italian performances of Happy Days, from some avant-garde ones such as Remondi and Caporossi s or that of the Teatro Studio in Scandicci, to Strehler s staging for the Piccolo Teatro, which also entailed some modification of Beckett s original intentions. We could argue, as Enoch Brater did at a lecture in Rome in April 2009, that evaluation must ultimately be left to the performance itself: the final verdict is whether it works or not, whether it brings something new to our understanding of Beckett s work. The last paper of the section devoted to performances is Anastasia Deligianni s. She describes the interesting experiment she made in Athens when staging Waiting for Godot for an audience of children, thereby investigating a return to virgin response which may in turn tell us something about our adult perception of the play. In the last section, Lino Belleggia analyses Film in the light of Beckett s interest in experimental cinema, from Buñuel s Un chien andalou to Eisenstein, whose theoretical writings greatly influenced him. Seb Franklin analyses a kind of post factum influence, as McHale puts it, of Beckett s work on horror cinema, not of course postulating any direct inspiration, but finding echoes of his work in this unlikely medium (talk of science fiction and dystopia has occurred elsewhere, in the case of plays and prose like The Lost Ones or All Strange Away). The Appendix gives information about performances and exhibitions held during the Conference. Ninny Aiuto, a young writer, presented his translation of Waiting for Godot into Sicilian, acting some excerpts from it; a brief analysis of his work is given here. Antonio Borriello, whose performances are illustrated in some of the pictures included in this volume, writes about his ideas on staging Beckett. Bill Prosser gives us information about his work on Beckettian doodles, mostly from the manuscript of Human Wishes. The opening pages of the Appendix are devoted to the transcript of the performance-talk given by Giulia Lazzarini, the great actress who interpreted Strehler s Happy Days, and though written words cannot capture the deeply moving impact of her talk, they give us some hint of the astounding performance of this superb Italian Winnie.
19 The Tragic Comedy of Samuel Beckett
20 NOTES The sections Beckett and Italy, Self-Translation, and the Genesis of Beckett s Writing, The Anxiety of Influence and Beckett and Philosophers were edited by Rossana M. Sebellin. The sections Beckett s Theatre: Text and Performances, Beckett and Cinema and the Appendix were edited by Daniela Guarda - magna. Both editors are responsible for the planning and revision of the entire volume. Throughout the text, for Beckett s works the editors have followed the convention established among others by Ackerley and Gontarski (The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett, 2004), requiring italics for texts published individually and inverted commas for texts which first appeared in collections, journals and so on. Occasionally the following abbreviations have been employed: RUL UoR HRHRC TCD MS Reading University Library University of Reading The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Trinity College Dublin manuscript
21 Beckett and Italy
23 Beckett and Italian Literature (after Dante) John Pilling a human voice there within an inch or two my dream perhaps even a human mind if I have to learn Italian obviously it will be less amusing (Samuel Beckett, How It Is) [L]ess amusing for the narrator/narrated of How It Is obviously : but perhaps only if you have to, in which respect it may well resemble anything any of us have to do. But the speaker here is putting a putative case based on his dream of a human voice [...] perhaps even a human mind, as if the learning of Italian were naturally part and parcel of any human, and more specifically Humanist, project. An equation of a kind looks as if it might yield something that could be usefully put beside Beckett and French Literature or Beckett and German Literature. But much of the potential utility value is clearly bound up with Beckett and Dante, a subject area which has at last received the treatment it deserves by Daniela Caselli, and no-one has yet seen fit to take matters very much further along the line I wish to trace, which will obviously be more, or less, amusing as I trace it. Where to start? Not, I think, nel mezzo del cammin (with How It Is, say, 30 years on from the beginning of a lifetime s writing, and 30 years from its end); best, surely, to go back to the beginning, some 85 years ago. It was in the autumn of 1924 that Beckett first studied Italian, and Italian Literature, at but also outside (with the Ottolenghi ) Trinity College Dublin. It was not with Dante that he started, Dante being too difficult, but with
24 6 Beckett and Italy something more various and less demanding: the Prose scelte of D Annunzio; some poems of Giosuè Carducci; the poetry of Alessandro Manzoni; a little Boccaccio; some Tasso (the opening Cantos of the Gerusalemme), and some Dialogues from Leopardi s Operette morali. A good spread, but nothing to leave a mark, even with Leopardi the most likely to do so. Or rather, nothing positive. A year or so later, in the autumn of 1926, Dante having intervened, Beckett took more specific stock, notably of Carducci who, he had decided, was not a poet, though an excellent university professor. Beckett had formed this judgment by way of reading Carducci on Tasso and Poliziano, and also by way of reading Benedetto Croce, another excellent university professor, on Carducci. What Beckett really objected to in Carducci was what he saw as a desperate and effortful self-consciousness so very different from his own. Carducci he was moved to compare to an elephant jumping ponderously through a hoop. Confronted with a famous figure he found not just a bad poet but an excessively bad one, Beckett already knew that Dante was a very great one (see TCD MS fol. 31) and may already have discovered that Leopardi also was, or could be in selected Canti; Beckett could hardly perhaps be expected to tolerate elephants jumping through hoops. A larger figure then than now, Carducci remained for a while a useful point of reference, a model of how not to proceed. In the short story Dante and the Lobster, probably written in 1930, the character Belacqua, Beckett s alter ego, decides that the nineteenth century in Italy was full of old hens trying to cluck like Pindar and instances Silvio Pellico, Manzoni, and, somehow inevitably, Carducci. So much for the nineteenth century, then, Beckett having chosen to forget that Leopardi died in 1832! But younger hens fared no better: in a letter to MacGreevy of 7 [August] 1930 Beckett objected to the dirty juicy squelchy mind of Gabriele D Annunzio, bleeding and bursting, like his celebrated pomegranates, celebrated (in the sense of famous, but not about to be celebrated) by Beckett largely on the basis of one of D Annunzio s Romances of the Pomegranate, the novel Il Fuoco. Some very old hens could also be dispensed with as his own creative work gathered momentum: in a letter probably written in late August 1931 Beckett told MacGreevy I can t write like Boccaccio