Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel Prizes |

Dying Fathers: ‘Stirrings Still’

For nearly half a century, the earnest sharp-nosed visage of Samuel Beckett, chosen mentor (though he likely never knew this), has been peering down upon me through his granny spectacles, reminding me with his austere presence of the solemn obligations of this vocation, if not always of the expansive joys (others, like Cervantes and Beckett's own mentor Joyce, were there, too, grinning slyly over his bony shoulder), and admonishing me, when the will weakened or distractions lured, to sit still and press on. "But not a word," he would mutter with quiet insistence, "and on with the losing game, it's good for the health." For the past couple of decades, he has been more literally there, gazing down from over my study door in a 1978 photo taken by the young photographer Steve Murez (young then; young now) at the Closerie des Lilas on the Boulevard du Montparnasse, a gift to me from Steve's stepfather, the writer Raymond Federman; in the photo, he wears an expression both of principl

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