Obscure Locks, Simple Keys is a comprehensive study of this most enigmatic of all of Samuel Beckett's texts. Chris Ackerley's approach, which has some similarities to genetic editing, is based on an extensive study of the manuscripts and different editions (including the French translation, overseen by Beckett himself) of the novel, and the long introduction covers the complex history of the book's composition and publication. The book includes a thematic Index and extensive Bibliography, as well as two appendices: one deals with 'Textual changes and errata in the major editions of Watt'; the other with the tangled question of 'The evolution of Watt'. Most of the work, however, concerns the detailed annotation of the text, and examines the range of literary, religious and philosophical matters that have informed and shaped the text. The primary aim of the volume is to offer a complete exposition of the novel's disconcerting difficulties, but another major objective, given the parlous state of previous editions, was to identify and correct the long history of textual error, with a view to the future publication of a better text.
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