April 1, 2014
Previously rejected Beckett story to be published
by Andrew McGrath
When Samuel Beckett submitted his story collection More Pricks Than Kicks in 1933 to his publisher, Charles Prentice of Chatto & Windus, Prentice asked Beckett to add one more story to expand the collection. Beckett agreed and wrote a story titled “Echo’s Bones.” The story features the protagonist from the other stories in the collection, Belacqua Shuah, despite the fact that he died in the story “Yellow.” In “Echo’s Bones,” Belacqua is revived, only to be struck by Lord Gall’s golf ball; Gall then asks Belacqua to impregnate his wife for him.
Prentice rejected “Echo’s Bones,” telling Beckett: “It is a nightmare… it gives me the jim-jams… “Echo’s Bones” would, I am sure, lose the book a great many readers. People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” The book was published months later without “Echo’s Bones” and was praised for its lack of jim-jams.
After the story was rejected, which Beckett said “discouraged him profoundly,” he left it alone. The only two copies of the story produced ended up in the archives of Dartmouth College and the University of Texas.
On Saturday, the Guardian announced that after eighty years, the short story will be published for the first time by Faber & Faber in Britain later this month; it will be released in America by Grove in July. It will be published on its own, with an introduction by Beckett scholar Mark Nixon, a reader of modern literature at the University of Reading. Nixon described the story as “…rather wild and undisciplined, it is also quite brilliantly so…” but also writes that he sympathises with Prentice’s decision to reject the story.