BECKETT, Samuel. Company. London: John Calder, 1980.
8vo., vellum-backed brown cloth boards, lettered in gilt to upper cover and spine; all edges gilt; preserved in matching cloth slipcase; pp. 89, [vii]; a fine copy in fine slipcase, with just one small ink mark to foot of spine and pin-sized red dot to lower cover.
First, limited edition, preceeding the UK and US trade issues and signed by Beckett to the title page. Company was written directly into English, hence the lack of translation.
Beckett's semi-existentialist novel concerns the protagonist's musings between the paradox of consciousness and the nature of reality. Written in the final years of his life, it follows the thoughts which comes "to one on his back in the dark". Proust, on whom Beckett had written an essay in 1930, defined the experience of lying in bed before falling asleep as a ‘relaxation of consciousness’, sometimes triggered by the reading of a novel. This might well have been the inspiration for Beckett, as Company has been described by some as the closest the author ever came to an autobiography. The reader is allowed glimpses into his life: diving from a tree with his flight broken by branches; amusing his father by imitating his ''chuckle,'' and feeling himself in adulthood shadowed by his father's ''shade.''
The book lends itself well to dramatisation, and has been regularly adapted into stage performances since its inception, many of which involve audience participation.