Samuel Beckett
Digital Manuscript Project
Krapp's Last Tape / La Dernière Bande



Transcribed by: Dirk Van Hulle

Holding Library: University of Reading (MS 1227/7/7/1)

Abbreviated in the Manuscript Chronology as EM

Manuscript notes in an exercise book by Samuel Beckett which represent the first draft of Krapp's Last Tape. Contained in an exercise book which is inscribed 'Eté 56' on the front cover by Beckett. 96 leaves, blank from f. 45 until f. 96 verso. Squared paper. 22 x 13 cm. Blue and black ink.

From f. 10 verso to f. 22 and then on verso f. 24 and f. 25 this exercise book contains the original draft of what became Krapp's Last Tape, here headed by Beckett as Magee Monologue (a reference to actor Patrick Magee for whom Beckett originally wrote this piece, and who played Krapp in the first production of the play.) Krapp is referred to as 'A'. Piece is dated f. 11, 20 February 1958.

The sequence of pages includes two separate sections of the piece, the first beginning on f. 11 with some notes on setting and on physical and verbal characterisation, the second beginning on f. 14 with no preliminary notes. Variant material in content as well as text; opening mime includes (on f. 12) a scene in which Krapp finds the already laden table to be unsteady. He moves the table, and the 'zone of light' follows him. He does not remark upon this. The girl with whom Krapp lived 'on and off' is called 'Alba' in this draft, recalling Belacqua's Alba and Beckett's poem of that title.

The verso pages are used primarily for corrections and notes. There are also many doodles adjacent to pauses or revisions. Some calculations related to the time spent 'on licensed premises alone'. The final pair of pages, verso p. 24 and recto p. 25, carry notes and diagrams on 'Tape recording'. These notes concern Krapp's position relative to the machine and how he would operate, listen and newly record upon it.

Bryden, Mary, Julian Garforth, and Peter Mills, eds. (1998), Beckett at Reading: Catalogue of the Beckett Manuscript Collection at the University of Reading (Reading: Whiteknights Press and the Beckett International Foundation), p. 58-59

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