These four last prose fictions by Samuel Beckett were originally published individually, and their composition spanned the final decade of his life. In Company a solitary hearer lying in blackness calls up images from the far-off past. Ill Seen Ill Said meditates upon an old woman living out her last days alone in an isolated snow-bound cottage, watched over by twelve mysterious sentinels. In Worstward Ho, a breathless speaker unravels the sense of things, acting out the unending injunction to ‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ And Stirrings Still, published in the Guardian a few months before Beckett’s death in 1989, is the last prose work and testament of ‘this great soothsayer of the age, and of the aged’ (Christopher Ricks).
The present edition includes several short prose texts (Heard in the Dark I & II, One Evening, The Way, Ceiling) which represent work in progress or works ancillary to the composition of these late masterpieces.