Beckett’s Collaborative Translations in the 1950s

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

Abstract

In the 1950s, Samuel Beckett worked together with a number of writer-translators on English, French and German versions of his novels and plays. This article studies the material traces of these collaborations to analyse the collaborations as a crucial phase in a 4-step process toward a poetics of bilingualism, consisting of (1) writing in another language, (2) collaborating on the translations, (3) eventually giving preference to self-translation, and (4) finally presenting his work as a bilingual oeuvre. Beckett also appears to have played a greater part in his German translations than hitherto assumed, which calls for a reassessment of Beckett’s “trilingual” engagement with his work in the development of a “bilingual” poetics.