Thursday, July 20, 2006
Beckett fact no. 66.
President Eisenhower used to read his speeches, Gore Vidal said, with a genuine sense of surprise at their contents. I’ve always wondered whether the use of the Spanish upside-down exclamation mark compromises the surprise element of sentences that decide to end on a high note like this! ¡Because with the Spanish-style double marks you’ve already been told to be surprised from the start. (I left out the second exclamation mark there to emphasise my point.)
Beckett’s thoughts on the subject are unknown, but he did use the double exclamation mark in his one (portmanteau) word reply to Nancy Cunard’s Writers Take Sides on the Spanish Civil War: ¡UPTHEREPUBLIC!
Telegrams feature in Murphy, with the acathisiac Cooper cabling Neary with updates in the quest for Murphy: ‘FOUND STOP LOOK SLIPPY STOP COOPER’ and ‘LOST STOP STOP WHERE YOU ARE STOP COOPER’.
Which leaves the telegram Beckett sent The Times on 31 December 1983 in answer to a questionnaire asking writers for their hopes and resolutions for the coming year, and which you'll also find quoted in the letters page of this week's TLS:
EDITOR THE TIMES NEW PRINTING HOUSE SQUARE GRAYS INN ROAD LONDON/WC1 RESOLUTIONS COLON ZERO STOP PERIOD HOPES COLON ZERO STOP BECKETT
Finally, was or wasn't Nancy Cunard George Moore's daughter? I've no idea. Send me a telegram if you know.