Time, space, and money being finite quantities in this world, the books that a person chooses to surround oneself with become a fascinating glimpse into the life of that mind. Far more than the everyday biographical details of a life (what one ate, whom one slept with), a person’s library is an indication of what concerns continue to possess him through time.
Readers will have a new glimpse into Samuel Beckett’s mind with the publication of Samuel Beckett’s Library by Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon, due to be released by Cambridge University Press in May. Van Hulle and Nixon conducted a census of the 750 books in Beckett’s collection, noting marginalia and other manuscript material. The Web page for the volume describes the book:
Samuel Beckett’s Library critically examines the reading notes and marginalia contained in the books of Samuel Beckett’s surviving library in Paris. Previously inaccessible to scholars, this is the first study to assess the importance of the marginalia, inscriptions and other manuscript notes in the 750 volumes of the library. Setting the library into context with other manuscript material such as drafts and notebooks, Samuel Beckett’s Library examines the way in which Beckett absorbed, “translated” and transmitted his reading in his own work. This book thus illuminates Beckett’s cultural and intellectual world and shows the ways in which his reading often engendered writing.
If you’re like me, and find a person’s bookshelves a far more penetrating insight into their inner life than the prescription drugs in their medicine cabinet, you’ll look forward to the publication. The Cambridge University Press Web page for the book is here, and it’s available for pre-order from amazon.com here.