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Samuel Beckett, Stirrings Still, 1988

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Samuel Beckett, Stirrings Still (New York: Blue Moon Books in association with John Calder Publications Ltd., London, 1988). Limited edition of 200 numbered copies, signed by the author and artist on colophon (26 proofs lettered A to Z hors-commerce). One original two-tone sanguine lithograph frontispiece Study of Samuel Beckett, and eight original black and white lithographic brush drawings, on handmade deckle-edged Velin de Rives made by Arjomari, France. Printed by the Atelier Chave, Vence. Samuel Beckett’s valedictory work designed by Peter Wildbur for Barney Rosset and John Calder. Text set by Apex Typesetting Limited in Monotype Garamond 156, printed by lithography by Pierre Chave. Large folio, page size 33.3 x 22.5 cm, quarter bound in parchment by Etablissements Dermont-Duval, Paris. Natural linen and cotton boards, gold stamped in a design by the artist. Housed in publisher’s matching slipcase.

The artist completes one original two-tone sanguine lithograph frontispiece Study of Samuel Beckett, and eight black and white lithographic brush drawings for Stirrings Still, Samuel Beckett's valedictory book, Blue Moon Books, New York / John Calder Publications Ltd., London (December 1988). Illustrated at Samuel Beckett's personal request, Anne madden observes: 'Sam Beckett's London publisher, John Calder, wrote to Louis in early April 1986 asking him if he would make the lithographs to accompany a collection of Sam's texts, written for Barney Rosset, after the demise of Grove press, in an edition of one or two hundred books of large format bound in cloth and parchment. It was very exciting for Louis to collaborate with Sam on this publication as well as doing the set for Godot. Indeed they were a celebration of his friendship with him. John Calder wrote in his letter that Sam had suggested Louis and that he, Sam, would be very happy if Louis were to agree. The texts, called Stirrings Still, were those which began with the same words he had quoted to us when they were ringing in his head three years before.'274 Stirrings Still is composed of three short prose pieces which were written between 1985 and 1987, drafted in both French and English. According to Christie's: 'The first fragment had been begun in 1985, but the process of composition was accelerated by the news in April 1986 that Beckett's American publisher, Barney Rosset of the Grove Press, had been dismissed by Ann Getty and Lord Weidenfeld (to whom Rosset had sold the publishing house). Seeking to help Rosset re-establish himself as a publisher -- and to provide him with income -- Beckett decided to give Rosset the work that eventually became Stirrings Still to publish. However, the writing was laborious -- as Beckett wrote to Rosset in December 1986 'No sign of 3rd [piece] so far and fear little hope the way I am now' (quoted in: J. Knowlson Damned to Fame (London: 1996), p.699). Because of Beckett's difficulties writing it, the work was not finished until late 1987, and not published until 13 April 1988 -- the author's 83rd birthday. The Irish artist Louis le Brocquy was chosen to illustrate the work; Beckett and le Brocquy had been introduced in 1978 by Con Leventhal (a friend of both), and the artist had not only painted Beckett subsequently, but also designed two productions of Waiting for Godot for the Gate Theatre, Dublin. The last work published in Beckett's lifetime, Stirrings Still was translated into French by the author during his final months and the French edition published under the title Soubresauts (Paris: 1989).'