The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Times Literary Supplement and AMFM Magazine are among the publications that featured the winter release of Dear Mr. Beckett – Letters from the Publisher: The Samuel Beckett File.
Lois Oppenheim, professor of French and chair of Montclair State’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, edited the collection of letters, interviews, contracts, photos and doodles. “Dear Mr. Beckett pays homage to two extraordinary men – Samuel Beckett, the Irish-born author of Waiting for Godot, and American Barney Rosset, the renegade Grove Press publisher – and the relationship between them,” notes Oppenheim.
A leading Beckett scholar, Oppenheim has authored or edited 14 books, including The Painted Word: Samuel Beckett’s Dialogue with Art and Directing Beckett.
“I was asked by Rosset, shortly before he died in 2012, to publish his letters to Beckett and was subsequently given access to all his personal files,” says Oppenheim, who spent three years going through material to edit the 480-page compilation.
Together, the two men revolutionized the world of literature. “Rosset was arrested more than 40 times for defying censorship laws. He always won and succeeded in publishing Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and many other works that would never have seen the light of day in this country without his courage and tenacity,” says Oppenheim. “Beckett wrote novels and plays the likes of which had never been written before. He was utterly original in every way. Who else could have written a play in which nothing happens?”