Death and love are the twin towers of all literature, so when someone comes up with an original way of describing one or the other, you have to sit up and take note.
A new collection of letters and postcards written by Beckett between 1947 and ’58, and sent to his friends, the artists Henri and Josette Hayden, have been placed on exhibition by Trinity College Dublin, which purchased them at auction for €180,000 earlier this year.
Included in the lot is a postcard written while his mother was dying in 1950:
My mother is still declining. It’s like one of those decrescendos made by the trains at Ussy which I used to listen to at night, interminable, suddenly resuming just when everything seemed finished and the silence final.
I think she will die in hospital in a week or so.
Not being musical, I never even knew the word “decrescendo”. Quite beautiful.