A new work by author and dramatist Samuel Beckett, increasingly rare as he maintains he has nothing to say in an empty and meaningless world, was published in France this month.

"L'Image," a 1,200-word single sentence, Beckett's slimmest volume to date, is, however, not new. The last line of the 10-page book reveals it was written in the 1950s.Literary sources said Beckett, 82, had been persuaded by Paris publisher Jerome Lindon to dust off the work, which was published once before in 1959 in a British quarterly but is now apparently untraceable.

Beckett, who lives as a recluse in Paris, has been silent since 1981, but his works have become increasingly terse since the 1960s as he pursues his vision that the world is meaningless and that his writing should logically consist of nothingness, or blank pages.

"Waiting for Godot" and his "Molloy" trilogy were all full-length, but Beckett's works have reached peaks of silence, with some plays showing an empty stage to portray the absence of reason for life.

French critic Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, writing in the daily newspaper Liberation, wrote: "As time passes, Beckett's prose, like his theater, has become rarified. Rubbing shoulders more and more with silence. Until he is quiet. Almost."