Samuel Beckett's Murphy manuscript to auction for $1.6m

Samuel Beckett's manuscript for his very first novel, Murphy, is to auction at Sotheby's London on July 10

Samuel Beckett Murphy manuscript
The doodles reveal Beckett's state of mind at a time when he was undergoing psychoanalysis

Described as "one of the most important 20th century working manuscripts in private hands", the manuscript - which is handwritten is six exercise books - is expected to realised between £800,000 and £1.2m ($1.2m-1.6m).

The manuscript is remarkable, not only as the precursor to Beckett's first published novel, but also for his extensive notes, cancellations and revisions, which hint at the author's struggle to give his novel form.

Also featuring are hundreds of lively doodles, which give an idea of Beckett's preoccupations at the time and include portraits of James Joyce, himself and Charlie Chaplin, who would later serve as inspiration for the tramps in Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

The actual text is substantially different from that of the published version of Murphy, which appeared in 1938. It features at least eight different versions of the famous opening sentence, which today reads: "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new".

"I have known about the existence of this remarkable manuscript for a long time - as have a number of others in the rare book business, and some Beckett scholars - but it has only been glimpsed, tantalizingly, by a few chosen individuals during that time," commented Sotheby's Peter Selley.

"The notebooks contain almost infinite riches for all those - whether scholars or collectors - interested in this most profound of modern writers, who more than anyone else, perhaps, captures the essence of modern man. The manuscript is capable of redefining Beckett studies for many years to come."

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