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Should you keep your collectibles to yourself? The case of Samuel Beckett’s notebooks

On July 10, six of Samuel Beckett’s notebooks are to cross the auction block at Sotheby’s.

Filled with Beckett’s seemingly interminable scrawlings and scribblings, the notebooks offer a rare glimpse into the avant-garde author’s imagination during a period in which he underwent psychoanalysis.

Written between August 1935 and June 1936, the books, which are valued at $2m, have emerged from a private collection.

Their contents have never been widely available to scholars.


Whoever happens to cast the highest bid come July will gain access to a flood of new information regarding Beckett’s often gelid, occasionally comic, yet always captivating canon.

Rightly or wrongly, it will be completely up to that individual or institution whether or not they chose to share this information with Beckett scholars…

I really like the idea that the planet is covered in secret clues out of which people might patchwork together new versions of men and women long departed, be it a telegram sent by Vladimir Lenin mere months before the October Revolution took place in Russia, one of the many letters written by Charles Dickens, or the present bundle of heavily-illustrated notebooks.

Whether accidentally or on purpose, we all leave behind some sort of paper trail, which might one day be picked through by historians, or police officers.

What do you think?

Should the contents of the Beckett notebooks be made public?

What would you chose do with them if you bought them? Have them incinerated or digitised? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


About paulfrasercollectibles

Expert opinion, news, views and interviews allowing you to collect and invest with confidence.

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