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Century Marks

Incognito: Samuel Beckett’s 1940 visit to Bram van Velde may have kept the Dutch painter from committing suicide. It wasn’t anything that Beckett said; it was his expression of solidarity with van Velde, who for 30 years worked in isolation and poverty and without selling one of his paintings. As a writer, Beckett too endured long periods of neglect. “It doesn’t matter if you’re not published,” Beckett told him. “One does it to be able to breathe.” Both men admired Vincent van Gogh, who never sold a single one of his paintings (review of Charles Juliet’s Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde, Times Literary Supplement, May 7).


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