The cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller's letters were recently catalogued in preparation for auction and The American Reader has published several letters between Bushmiller and Samuel Beckett:
Beckett and Bushmiller were born within nine months of each other (Bushmiller in 1905, Beckett in 1906) but their material circumstances couldn’t have been more different at the time these letters were written. Bushmiller was at the top of his profession. He had been a successful syndicated cartoonist for almost thirty years by 1952. Nancy appeared in about 500 US papers and appeared in translation in many others worldwide. Circulation of the strip was therefore somewhere around 40 million people.
Beckett, it is assumed, read Nancy in English in the Paris-based international edition of the New York Herald Tribune. By 1952, Beckett had published a study of Proust, a collection of short stories, a volume of poems, one novel in English and two in French. Although the French novels Molloy and Malone Dies were beginning to receive attention from the Paris literati, none of the books had sold much. Beckett eked out a living as a translator of Mexican poetry. No play of his had yet been produced, although Waiting for Godot would receive its world premiere in January of 1953. Significantly, it is then that Beckett’s correspondence with Bushmiller breaks off.Read More
(Via Maud Newton on Twitter.)