Beckett manuscript sells for €1.2m

A manuscript of Samuel Beckett’s novel Murphy has sold at auction for just under €1.2m.

The six notebooks, complete with the author’s notes and doodles, cover more than 700 pages including passages that were cut from the novel when it was published in 1938.

They were bought by the University of Reading for £962,500.

The handwritten jotters, which include sketches of Beckett’s contemporaries including James Joyce, date from 1935 and 1936.

Peter Selley, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts, said: “Interest in this remarkable piece of literary history has been truly global.

“It is unquestionably the most important manu-script of a complete novel by a modern British or Irish writer to appear at auction for many decades.

“The notebooks contain almost infinite riches for all those — whether scholars or collectors — interested in this most profound of modern writers, who more than anyone else perhaps captures the essence of modern man.

“The manuscript is capable of redefining Beckett studies for many years to come.”

David Bell, vice chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “It is important that world-renowned institutions such as the University of Reading can continue to fund access to knowledge and the best resources for researchers and students.

“The acquisition of Murphy will provide unparalleled opportunities to learn more about one of the greatest writers in living memory, if not all time.”

Literary vessels

By Sean O’Riordan

The Naval Service’s new vessels are to be named after Irish literary giants.

In recent years the tradition has been to give new vessels Irish female names, but that’s about to change.

The Naval Service has confirmed that a replacement for the 35-year-old LÉ Emer, which is expected to arrive next January, will be named the LÉ Samuel Beckett.

It’s expected that another modern vessel will be delivered to the navy in Jan 2015 and this will then be named the LÉ James Joyce.

It will replace the LÉ Aoife which has been in service for 33 years.

It’s understood that the Department of Defence is anxious that the new ships will have internationally recognised names.

The vessels are currently under construction at Appledore, Devon.

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