2006 marks the 100th anniversary of Samuel Beckett’s birth. To most, he was a brilliant artist who shied away from celebrity and photographers, but to the distinguished painter Avigdor Arikha and his wife, author Anne Atik, Beckett was the close friend with whom they shared countless drinks, meals, and rich conversations. As intimates and artists, they interacted with him several times a week for over four decades. In 1970, Atik began jotting down notes on her relationship on with Beckett. “After fifteen years of memorable conversations with Beckett,” she writes, “I realized that I could not depend on my memory. The unforgettable was becoming the irretrievable.” The three could just as easily discuss their personal lives as they could ponder the state of art and the work of artists. This book documents not only Beckett’s passions, but the breadth of his knowledge of literature by detailing his opinions and influences. In How It Was, Atik reconstructs Beckett’s private life and thoughts to offer a unique insider’s portrait.
In addition to the author’s personal tales, the book is filled with drawings by Arikha, snapshots, letters, and, in Beckett’s own handwriting, drafts that would eventually become part of his formidable canon. With this intimate collage, How It Was gives the reader a chance to sit down with one of the great literary masters of the twentieth century.