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This article is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

'How to Fail' Patrick Bowles

The following notes are attempts to reproduce without embellishment what was said by Samuel Beckett or myself in the course of our meetings for work on the translation of his novel, Molloy, and also during later friendly meetings, often for the purpose of continuing our discussions of ideas that had arisen at that time.

Except for the passages described as a folly, they are not inventions and nothing is fictitious.

Most of the notes were written about forty years ago. I have carried them around the world since then in their original form, namely a scrawl on odd bits of paper, mercifully in ink. They even spent about fifteen years with me in Equatorial Africa.

But time has begun to pass quickly. Happily, when I came to reread them, I found that I had been in better shape then than now Had I tinkered with them, I would probably have tarnished what appeal they may have. What Mr Beckett had said was what he had said. Why change it?

The notes in square brackets were written this year [1993] when some kindly friends of mine urged me to try and have the main notes printed. The latter were never written with a view to printing or publication, merely to try to protect our obsessions from the decline of memory and the ravages of time.

Preparing them for presentation, even in their spontaneous, formless, off-the-cuff layout, made it clear that ...


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