Sails of the Herring Fleet

Essays on Beckett
Herbert Blau
Reflections on Samuel Beckett by renowned director and theorist Herbert Blau


Sails of the Herring Fleet traces esteemed director and theorist Herbert Blau's encounters with the work of Samuel Beckett. Blau directed Beckett's plays when they were still virtually unknown, and for more than four decades has remained one of the leading interpreters of his work. In addition to now-classic essays, the collection includes early program notes and two remarkable interviews—one from Blau's experience directing Waiting for Godot at San Quentin prison, and one from his last visit with Beckett, just before the playwright's death.

Herbert Blau is Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities, University of Washington.

Praise / Awards

  • "It is unfortunately very rare to hear directors of Blau's depth of experience thinking about their craft and its implementation, and defending tier readings, especially in relation to a particular writer. . . . For its self-conscious reflection on theatre alone, and the light cast on his theatrical collaborations, the book justifies its existence richly. "
    —Frances Devlin Glass, Deakin University, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, December 2002
  • "A medley of provocations and insights...required reading for anyone interested in the influence of Beckett—and, for that matter, Blau—on the direction and definition of theater."
  • ". . . anyone even remotely interested in theatre history will be well served by reading Sails."
    —Peggy Phelan, Modern Drama, Winter 2002
  • "Blau can relate Beckett to figures as diverse as Lawrence and Giacometti, and is capable of moving effortlessly and breathtakingly from Beckett to Levi-Strauss to Shakespeare in a single page."
    Modern Fiction Studies
  • "Blau's personal encounters with Beckett anchor the book...throughout these...encounters the complexity of the playwright enfolds the complexity of the philosopher: impossible theory infuses impossible theatre."
    Performing Arts Journal, Inc.
  • "The questions of memory, desire, death, and vision which move through Proust and Beckett drive Blau's reverie-laden prose...a highly theatrical memoir of a long and productive association."
    Theatre Journal
  • "As a record of Blau's long friendship with Beckett and as a lucid and insightful contextualization of his works within contemporary literary theory, Sails of the Herring Fleet is a welcome addition to the library of Beckett criticism."
    —William Hutchings, University of Alabama, Birmingham, World Literature Today, Winter 2002

Product Details

  • 224 pages.
  • 8 photographs.
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  • Ebook
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02440-7

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