With two Beckett signatures
BECKETT, Samuel. How it is. London: John Calder, 1964.
8vo. original vellum, lettered and ruled in gilt to spine; top edge gilt, else untrimmed, many pages unopened; pp. 160; preserved in both original glassine wrapper and matching accordian-style slipcase; printed on handmade paper; a fine copy, with some very light creasing and small tears/ chips to glassine; virtually unread overall.
The true first English edition of this work. Limited edition of 100 copies (Series A) printed in advance of the first trade edition, signed by Beckett.
An additional unbound copy of the first gathering from series B (which was to be bound in Morocco), also signed by Beckett.
A cheery monologue, recalling the life of the narrator as he crawls through endless mud. The title, a literal translation of the French phrase, comment c'est (how it is), is a pun on the French verb commencer or 'to begin'. Divided into three distinct sections, the first, before Pim describes a meeting with another creature to form a couple; the second, with Pim, his abandonment; and the third, after Pim where he returns to his earlier solitude. Only the mud and the dark remain as constants throughout this process.
In 2009, the artist Miroslaw Balka created an art installation based around Beckett's pinnacle work. Visitors were encouraged to walk into a vast dark chamber, either walking underneath and listening to the echoing sound of footsteps on steel, or otherwise entering via a ramp into a pitch black interior. The exhibition lasted for 7 months and was shown in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern.