During the conversation he [Beckett] told me that he had just finished translating Mercier and Camier, his first French novel, which had been written in the mid-forties. I had read the book in French and liked it very much. 'A wonderful book', I said. I was just a kid, after all, and I couldn't suppress my enthusiasm. But Beckett shook his head and said, 'Oh no, no, not very good. In fact, I've cut out about twenty-five per cent of the the original. The English version is going to be quite a bit shorter than the French." And I said, "why would you do such a thing. It's a wonderful book. You shouldn't have taken anything out.' Again, Beckett shook his head. "no, no, not very good, not very good.'
After that, we started talkng about other things. Then out of the blue, five or ten minutes later, he leant across the table and said, 'You really liked it, huh? You really thought it was good?'
This was Samuel Beckett, remember, and not even he had any grasp of the value of his work. No writer ever knows, not even the best ones.
'Yes,' I said to him. 'I really thought it was good.'
Image by Annabel Mehran