Cambridge: Rampant Lions Press, 1987. Oblong Quarto. Unpaginated [46pp.]. Bound in original quarter brown cloth, with repeat patterned paper covered boards depicting a hut, a tent, and a path, and spine titled in gilt; printed endpapers reproducing manuscript material of Beckett’s. The present volume was designed and printed by Sebastian Carter, on Zerkall Silurian paper. The main text was set in Albertus Light, and the editorial matter in Ehrhardt. A Fine copy. One of 325 copies, of which this is number 63. Item #63
The eponymous prose piece, after which the present edition of As the story was told was titled, first appeared in Germany; it was written as an encomium to the poet and radio dramatist Günter Eich, and was first published in Günter Eich zum Gedächtnis (1973). Four typescripts, three held in the University of Reading and a fourth by Beckett himself, were used to generate the text of the titular piece; revisions and other textual variations between versions have been cleverly recorded by Sebastian Carter in Ehrhardt type, below the main text. In the present edition, which differs slightly in content from John Calder’s 1990 collection of the same name, the titular piece is accompanied by excerpts and textual notes from a wide range of Beckett’s work, including Molloy, From an Abandoned Work, Murphy, Rockaby, Watt, Imagination Dead Imagine, and others.
“For some time I had played with the idea of a book in which the text ran on one line across the middle of the page spread almost from margin to margin, leaving space above and below for detailed textual notes and other apparatus. I talked the problem over with Christopher Ricks, who at that time was Professor of English at Cambridge. Christopher came up with this short piece by Beckett as being appropriately dense; he used his influence to get Beckett’s permission to reprint it, and assembled, apparently from memory, the collection of passages from Beckett’s other writings that accompanied it.
Because the positioning of the line of text through the book had to be very precise, I printed it on the Monopol press at Oxford Road so that the make ready could stay fixed. I then took the sheets down to Chesterton Road to print the colour on the Victoria. As the paper was printed damp, and so could not sit around for longer than a few days, some careful planning was called for…
Both Christopher and Beckett very decently accepted copies in lieu of payment, and Beckett signed the specials, which I took over to Paris to show him. The specials were all subscribed before publication.” [Sebastian Carter, The Rampant Lions Press. A Narrative Catalogue. 205].
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