Written in Roussillon during World War Two, while Samuel Beckett was hiding from the Gestapo, Watt was first published in 1953. Beckett acknowledged that this comic novel unlike any other 'has its place in the series' - those masterpieces running from Murphy to the Trilogy, Waiting for Godot and beyond. It shares their sense of a world in crisis, their profound awareness of the paradoxes of being, and their distrust of the rational universe.
Watt tells the tale of Mr Knott's servant and his attempts to get to know his master. Watt's mistake is to derive the essence of his master from the accidentals of his being, and his painstakingly logical attempts to 'know' ultimately consign him to the asylum. Itself a critique of error, Watt has previously appeared in editions that are littered with mistakes, both major and minor. The new Faber edition offers for the first time a corrected text based on a scholarly appraisal of the manuscripts and textual history.
Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906 and graduated from Trinity College. He settled in Paris in 1937, after travels in Germany and periods of residence in London and Dublin. He remained in France during the Second World War and was active in the French Resistance. From the spring of 1946 his plays, novels, short fiction, poetry and criticism were largely written in French. With the production of En attendant Godot in Paris in 1953, Beckett's work began to achieve widespread recognition. During his subsequent career as a playwright and novelist in both French and English he redefined the possibilities of prose fiction and writing for the theatre. Samuel Beckett won the Prix Formentor in 1961 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. He died in Paris in December 1989.