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Editing Beckett

The second story is told by one Jacques Moran, whom a mysterious messenger orders to find Molloy. How and to what end? Moran does not know. He sets off with his young son in the direction of the same city and finds himself, too, struck with paralysis in one leg. The messenger then orders him to go back home, where he eventually returns, months later, after the worse sufferings. If he failed in his mission, at least he got back to port. But only to find his home deserted, and after having himself gone down all the degrees which lead to inhumanity.

On the way, he has unlearnt the language of men and, formerly a good Catholic, he now no longer believes in anything. Nothing is less sure. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining. Ironic genius, subtle charmer, humorist besides which the most famous black humorists pale, champion of the Nothing exalted to the height of the Whole, and conversely, giant conqueror of an elusive reality, he took us along with him into his forest.

We too will only come out of it on our elbows and our knees. It will take years. If I were indifferent to cold, hunger, and the myriad difficulties that overwhelm a man when he abandons himself to nature, rain, and the earth, to the immense quick-sand of the world and of things, I myself would be the character Molloy. There is in this reality, the essence or residue of being, something so universal, these complete vagabonds we occasionally encounter but immediately lose have something so essentially indistinct about them, that we cannot imagine anything more anonymous.

So much so that this name vagabond I have just written down misrepresents them. But that of wretch, which has perhaps the advantage over the other of an even greater indeterminacy, is equally a misrepresentation. This thing we name through sheer impotence vagabond or wretch, which is actually unnamable but then we find ourselves entangled in another word, unnamable , is no less mute than death.

Thus we know in advance that the attempt to speak to this phantom haunting the streets in broad daylight is futile. Even if we knew something about the precise circumstances and conditions of his life? Any conversation we might have with him would be only a phantom, an appearance of conversation. It would delude us, referring us to some appearance of humanity, to something other than this absence of humanity heralded by the derelict dragging himself through the streets, who fascinates us.

Born in , Irish, he was a friend of Joyce, and has even remained his disciple to some extent. His friendships—or his relations— place him, it seems, in the milieu Joyce was familiar with in France. The obvious influence of Joyce on Beckett, however, is far from being the key to the latter. At most the two writers show a similar interest in the chaotic possibilities given in the free—nevertheless controlled and composed, yet violent—play of language.

But after all, would not this abyss be similar to the one that separates the misanthrope or the miser from the absence of humanity and the amorphous personality of Molloy? And conversely, it may be that the freedom of a writer who no longer reduces writing to a means of expressing his meaning, who consents to respond to possibilities present, though chaotically mingled, in those deep currents that flow through the oceanic agitation of words, results of its own accord, yielding to the weight of destiny, in the amorphous figure of absence.

And truly it little matters what I say, this or that or any other thing. A disguise nevertheless. Death itself would be that final silence that has never been attenuated by its imitations. Literature, on the other hand, lines up a torrent of incongruous words next to silence. Though it allegedly conveys the same meaning as death, this silence is only a parody of the latter. Nor is it, moreover, genuine language: it is even possible that literature may have the same fundamental meaning as silence, but it recoils before the final step that silence would be. Likewise this Molloy, who is its incarnation, is not precisely a dead man.

The profound apathy of death, its indifference to every possible thing, is apparent in him, but this apathy would encounter in death itself its own limit. I think not. For the suffering of the leg at rest was constant and monotonous. Whereas the leg condemned to the increase of pain inflicted by work knew the decrease of pain dispensed by work suspended, the space of an instant.

But I am human, I fancy, and my progress suffered, from this state of affairs, and from the slow and painful progress it had always been, whatever may have been said to the contrary, was changed, saving your presence, to a veritable calvary, with no limit to its stations and no hope of crucifixion, though I say it myself, and no Simon, and reduced me to frequent halts. Yes, my progress reduced me to stopping more and more often, it was the only way to progress, to stop.

For frankly light meant nothing to me now, and my mother could scarcely be waiting for me still, after so long. And my leg, my legs. Such in fact is the blind purpose of this brisk narrative, borne at length by such an unquenchable verve that we read it with no less impatient interest than a thrilling adventure novel. An isolated passage gives only a lifeless, feeble impression of this vast journey, which the narrative paradoxically arranges into an immense, shattering epic, borne along in an irresistible, inhuman onrush as a matter of fact it is difficult to take Molloy at his word when he chances to call himself human, for in the depths of misery, he monstrously allows himself the incongruity, obscenity and moral indifference that all of humanity, anxious and afflicted with scruples, would deny themselves.

Abandon all hope…, frankly speaking, is accurate only in one sense, and the violence of irony imposes itself almost as soon as these funereal words are pronounced. The wisest perhaps, lying in the squares or sitting on their doorsteps, were savouring its languid ending, forgetful of recent cares, indifferent to those at hand…. Was there one among them to put himself in my place, to feel how removed I was then from him I seemed to be, and in that remove what strain, as of hawsers about to snap? Under the blue sky, under the watchful gaze.

Forgetful of my mother, set free from the act, merged in this alien hour, saying, Respite, respite. In part this passage is flawed, out of place, but it provides us with the key to the narrative, in which the tension that rivets us to depression never lets up. Certainly, here all reasonable hopes and plans are engulfed in indifference.

But perhaps it is to be assumed that, in the moment given here, within the limits of this present time, there is nothing that matters, nothing that could matter. For I have greatly sinned, at all times, greatly sinned against my prompters. And if I cannot decently be proud of this I see no reason either to be sorry.

For they never led me anywhere, but tore me from places where, if all was not well, all was no worse than anywhere else, and then went silent, leaving me stranded. So I knew my imperatives well, and yet I submitted to them. It had become a habit. It is true they nearly all bore on the same question, that of my relations with my mother, and on the importance of bringing as soon as possible some light to bear on these and even on the kind of light that should be brought to bear and the most effective means of doing so.

Yes, these imperatives were quite explicit and even detailed until, having set me in motion at last, they began to falter, then went silent, leaving me there like a fool who neither knows where he is going nor why he is going there. Although it eludes him every time he becomes aware of it, it imposes itself upon him with such convincing force that in his bewilderment there is nothing he will not do to obey it.

For my wrists were still quite strong, fortunately, in spite of my decrepitude, though all swollen and racked by a kind of chronic arthritis probably. That then briefly is how I went about it. The advantage of this mode of locomotion compared to others, I mean those I have tried, is this, that when you want to rest you stop and rest, without further ado. For standing there is no rest, nor sitting either. And there are men who move about sitting, and even kneeling, hauling themselves to right and left, forward and backward, with the help of hooks.

But he who moves in this way, crawling on his belly, like a reptile, no sooner comes to rest than he begins to rest, and even the very movement is a kind of rest, compared to other movements, I mean those that have worn me out. And in this way I moved onward in the forest, slowly, but with a certain regularity, and I covered my fifteen paces, day in, day out, without killing myself. And I even crawled on my back, plunging my crutches blindly behind me into the thickets, and with the black boughs for sky to my closing eyes. I was on my way to mother. And from time to time I said, Mother, to encourage me I suppose.

And if I had met any lady friends, if I had had any lady friends, I would have been powerless to salute them correctly. This is possible. But there is a primary reason why this absence of interest is not necessarily justifiable: the power and passion of the author force us to become brutally convinced of the contrary. As I have said, we have no right to assume that the author began with a detailed plan in mind. Such absences of reality may not indeed be present in the clear-cut distinctions of discourse, but we may be sure that neither death nor inhumanity, both non-existing, can be considered irrelevant to the existence that we are, of which they are the boundary, the backdrop, and the ultimate truth.

Death is not simply that sort of concealed base on which anguish rests: the void into which misery plunges everything, if the latter absorbs us completely and we decompose, is none other than death, object of that horror whose positive aspect is full humanity. Thus this horrible figure painfully swinging along on his crutches is the truth that afflicts us and that follows us no less faithfully than our own shadows: it is fear of this very figure that governs our human gestures, our erect postures and our clear phrases. And, conversely, this figure is in some way the inevitable grave that in the end will draw this parade of humanity into itself to be buried: it is oblivion, impotence….

It is not unhappiness, at the end of its strength, that succumbs to misfortune, but rather indifference, in which a man forgets even his own name, perfect indifference to the most loathsome misery. And yet this is a bit of chicanery. Molloy or rather the author is writing: he is writing and what he writes is that the will to write is slipping away from him…. As though the overwhelming figure of the first part had not sufficiently represented the silence of this world, the impotent search of the second seems to correspond to the need to deliver the universe wholly over to absence, since Molloy is more precisely not to be found than present.

But Moran in search of the inaccessible Molloy, slowly stripped of everything, becoming more and more infirm, little by little will be reduced in turn to the same repulsive ambulation as Molloy in the forest. Thus literature necessarily gnaws away at existence and the world, reducing to nothing but this nothing is horror these steps by which we go along confidently from one result to another, from one success to another.

This does not exhaust the possibilities available in literature. And it is certain that the use of words for other than utilitarian ends leads in the opposite direction into the domain of rapture, defiance, and gratuitous audacity. But these two realms—horror and rapture—are closer to one another than we have supposed. Sommermeyer] Note 1 I recall having had at an early age a long conversation with a vagabond. It lasted the better part of a night I spent waiting for a train in a small station. He, of course, was not waiting for any train; he had simply taken shelter in the waiting-room, and he left me towards morning to go to make some coffee over a campfire.

He was not precisely the sort of being I am speaking of; he was even talkative, more so than I was, perhaps. He seemed satisfied with his life, and being an old man, amused himself by expressing his happiness to the adolescent I was, listening to him with admiration. Yet the memory he left with me, and the amazed terror it still arouses in me, continue to remind me of the silence of animals.

This encounter impressed me so deeply that soon afterwards I began to write a novel in which a man who has met him in the countryside kills him, perhaps in hopes of gaining access to the animality of his victim. On another occasion, while driving with friends, we found in broad daylight, in a forest, a man alongside the road stretched out on the grass and, so to speak, in the water, in a pouring rain. We offered to drive him to a hospital: I seem to recall that he still did not answer, or that if he bothered to respond, it was with a vague grunt of refusal.

But maybe this is the real reason for surprise. Beckett does not respect the rules of the game! Absurdity with him seems peaceful, even joyful or maybe mischievous, and Molloy, this tramp, is of a far more sedate disposition than many of our friends. Camus showed us his hero in such a light that we could at the same time sympathize with him and maintain our usual attitude of mind. The trouble is that the method, once revealed, greatly devalued the vision of the world which was offered us.

The absurd can even become the sign of an obscure belief in order: everything will be deemed void of meaning if it is assumed that meaning MUST be GIVEN, if it is not understood that meaninglessness is the first condition of meaning, if one still aspires, even without admitting it to oneself, to a perfectly full meaning, excluding any meaninglessness. In other words, the absurd should not be separated from the normal, or opposed to it like reality to illusion, because in this logical game the terms are exchanged and one does not really know who benefits by it.

One should on the contrary recognize the lack of meaning in meaning itself as an essential component. Once again I do not see this tale as devoid of meaning: one cannot possibly blame somebody who wanted to be a tramp, to wander without any definite aim. Anyway to say this—without any definite aim—is going too far. But do we behave so differently?

The inconsistency of his plans becomes obvious more quickly than ours, that is all; but it does not make any difference to the final inconsistency of our intentions, nor to the fact that he too looks for something. Similarly in the second part, one may wonder at the fact that the man who in the end kills Molloy does not really ask himself the questions which we would ask ourselves in his place about his mission; he does ask himself questions, however, only they are not the same ones.

Moreover our surprise stems mainly from the fact that he quickly accepts the lack of answer, but the difference with us is only one of degree: maybe we are only a little more skillful in covering up our ignorance, in extending our knowledge somewhat. In any case it is not really cleverness which is involved. The truth is that Molloy puts little persistency into what he does, little of that touching and ridiculous obstinacy which makes us stick to our goals for so long and so totally that we exhaust ourselves in the process. He tries to find his mother, but if he does not find her, well, so much the worse.

Usually we rush headlong into our undertakings, they gain clarity, precision, they get organized and constitute our world, they are what exist, not us. It is true that we would not exist without that impetus. But is it necessary that we should absorb ourselves in it to that extent? Molloy stays in-between. He sketches out behavior patterns, but quickly drops them. One feels that he is looking for a proper dividing line between himself and them.

Whether we are reduced to ourselves, a pure conscience, or to what we accomplish: in either case it is our death if in fact we are both. What could be truer? Molloy preserves both meaning and lack of meaning. He sketches out the first just enough so that it is, not enough for it to hide its opposite, its twin, its non- meaning. In short, this book is not a novel, it offers a morality, the most classical one, that of an absolute, almost scientific conscience: To be literally incapable of motion at last, that must be something!

My mind swoons when I think of it. And mute into the bargain! And perhaps as deaf as a post! And who knows as blind as a bat! And as likely as not your memory a blank! And just enough brain intact to allow you to exalt! And to dread death like a regeneration. It is certainly not an ideal, it is only a makeshift: it would be even more absurd to take the trouble to give a meaning to what does not need any. Does not need: to be or not to be? The question is not answered. We only have a choice between torpor and silliness. It is understandable that this book should have disconcerted people who are lucky enough to feel neither foolish nor dazed.

He devoted a number of articles to the works of Samuel Beckett. We live in a time of despair, where wrecks are everywhere, and Molloy is a wreck, hardly a man, an absence of a man. He is what would appear in man if all his human, logical, rational, polished and decent attributes were erased at a stroke. And we have learned only too cruelly, for the last ten years, where some lyrical apologies of the unconscious and the irrational could lead, not to feel a joy mixed with bitterness in reading such a lucid description of what each of us might be, of what each of us is when he gives in to the blind and heavy inertia of existence.

One would search it in vain for winks to the reader, meaningful words cleverly hidden in the undergrowth of the sentences, by which the author lets us know the breadth of his design. It looks as if Mr Beckett has no other intention but that of not having any, of letting himself be led by a capricious, agitated language, in the same way as Molloy lets himself be carried by life. Hence these meanders, these gaps in a narrative which denies itself as it goes along, this impression of fog, which at times gets thicker and at times clears away, revealing for a moment a possible meaning which is quickly covered up again by the night of meaninglessness.

One could rightly say that not to have any design is still to have one. It might even be the most ambitious one for a writer. It is trying to express in words the tangled chaos upon which all the plans we make, all the attitudes we take are recorded, thereby sketching an appearance of order and reason in a world which has none.

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Mr Beckett is undoubtedly obsessed by the idea of death and nothingness; and if we think that this book is a healthy one, it is precisely because death and nothingness are not disguised in it. The author does not make them say what they do not mean; he does not elicit from them an obscure and scholarly philosophy of the nonknowledge, of darkness.

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However, like in any literature of destruction, something positive is there, latent, the miracle to which writers always refer. One has the feeling that he is playing with Molloy; and if he sometimes has fun in placing two contradictory remarks in the same sentence, or two conflicting thoughts, it may not be just to give us artificially an image of meaninglessness. Of particular significance in this respect is the second part of the novel, where we learn how a man called Moran was sent looking for Molloy, left dying in the forest, and what happened to his search.

This story begins in a very savory Kafka-like manner. One might think, reading these pages, that suddenly Mr Beckett took his book seriously. Once Moran gets going, the tone changes. Off on his search for Molloy, the seeker falls victim to the same fate as the latter. He becomes, so to speak, the Molloy that he will not manage to find, he wanders, like him, in the country, indulges in the same poor jokes, and falls prey to the same disabilities.

Abandoned by his son in the heart of the forest, he is a dying man when Gaber reappears and tells him to go home, without having completed his mission. Molloy will remain beyond reach and Moran, unrecognizable, will get back to his house and garden, also unrecognizable and deserted by their usual inhabitants.

It is then that he will hear a voice which will enjoin him to narrate his adventure.


Moran will go on living, as Molloy probably lives on, crawling in the forest; an absent life, eaten by contempt, a desolate life, which may be—such is the hypothesis proposed at the end of the book—the free life. Whereas to see yourself doing the same thing endlessly over and over again fills you with satisfaction. I cannot help seeing in it an exercise in composition, undoubtedly skillful —interest never fails—but in fact too skillful and irritating by its gratuitousness.

It is actually very difficult to pass any judgment on this book, which one does not immediately feel like weakening by a contrary opinion. Others will go through it in disgust or contempt and will not even enter. This is probably just what Mr Beckett wanted. Mr Beckett has attained the enviable achievement of speaking without saying anything, while knowing perfectly well that to say nothing is to mean a great deal. Whatever one understands, did he really want it to be understood? Or are we making a drastic mistake in trying to interpret this monstrous tale, which is like a stone fallen from the sky?

Who can find his way in the play of mirrors in which a literature that has reached such a degree of refinement indulges in? Irish—and even Anglo-Irish—boys do not take kindly to cricket as a rule, but Samuel Beckett was captain of cricket at the Irish public school where Oscar Wilde learnt his first Greek. The urge to excel at the subtle game of the foreigner has led Beckett very far since then—to Paris, in fact, where the game may be roughly described as existentialism. In assimilating French language and culture Beckett has not himself become assimilated—an extraordinary achievement for an Anglo- Irishman.

The typical Anglo-Irish boy learns that he is not quite Irish almost before he can talk; later he learns that he is far from being English either. Shaw, I sometimes think, became the prisoner of his mask, whiskers and all. In his five novels, however two in English, three in French , he has explored, without any of the autobiographical reference supplied by Shaw, Yeats or Wilde, the nature of the self and the means by which a self is found, preserved, and annihilated. He will recognize the Beckett world right away, for the protagonists of the novels, besides being congenitally ugly and unemployable, have usually grown old, crippled and weak in the sphincters as well.

They masturbate, but without pleasure. Almost to a man, they wear bowler hats, with or without brims, which they often do not take off even to sleep. Their pockets contain pebbles, broken pipes, anything that has no cash value. Their memories are, mercifully, bad. Once a week a man brings him money and takes away what he has written. Most of his narrative—so rambling as better to deserve the name of interior monologue—tells of a journey in search of his mother, during which he grows progressively more crippled, until he is dragging himself along the ground through a forest, with the help of his crutches, at the rate of fifteen paces a day.

Oh not a real longing. Molloy could stay, where he happened to be. It begins with the Sunday when a messenger named Gaber brought Moran instructions from Youdi, their employer, to go and find Molloy. Moran never did find Molloy nor succeed in remembering. By then his son had robbed him and run away, he himself had killed a man, and he had inexplicably become a cripple like Molloy. It took him months to get home, propping himself on his umbrella; in the meanwhile his house and all his possessions had gone to rack and ruin.

But he feels happy and free as never before: I am clearing out. Perhaps I shall meet Molloy. My knee is no better. It is no worse either. I have crutches now. I shall go faster, all will go faster. They will be happy days. I shall learn. All there was to sell I have sold.

But I had heavy debts. I have been a man long enough, I shall not put up with it any more, I shall not try any more. In these two narratives we can study the problem of selfhood from an almost clinical viewpoint. Molloy, like the Id, has no sense of time, no unified will, nothing but instinctual drives. Every reader must decide for himself whether the last state of Moran is worse than the first.

An unusual book was to be expected, and these expectations are fulfilled. Beckett belongs to the dwindling phalanx of the European avant- garde, and his reputation is very high along the Boulevard Saint- Germain. Yet he is by no means a solitary or original figure, for his play and his novels follow the current Paris fashion without demur.

What he has done is to carry his despair and disgust to ultimate limits of expression— indeed beyond them. Beckett of being a selfplagiarist. It is difficult, granted his attitude to life, to see how he could be anything else. During the first part of the book he seems to be dragging himself about in a formalised Ireland, philosophising, tumbling into one ignominy after another, suffering without protest and inflicting suffering without remorse. This figure, Moran, appears to be the agent of a mysterious power straight out of Kafka, this and he is deputed by unknown authority to set out from his home in search of Molloy.

He is skilful and authoritative and we may feel quite sure that whatever he does is what he meant to do. There is not even any falsity in this novel beyond the gigantic falsity of its whole conception and existence. Above all, of its existence. For surely the whole point of the thesis that life is horrible and meaningless and nothing else must be that there is no more than this to be said about it.

It is not a theme which is capable of any development, for the act of developing it immediately provides a qualification to the thesis. For what then? By continuing to live and, still more, by continuing to write, the author refutes his own message.

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This book is a serious statement of a personal attitude or it is nothing. I am inclined to think that it is nothing. As for the excrement, the blasphemy, the cruelty, the reiterated indifferentism, it seems to me that this is an attitude to life which cries out for at least some hint of an opposing one. The danger of this kind of easy extremism is the danger of sentimentality; and this is avoided in this book only by the admirable dexterity of Mr. When Shakespeare wrote of life that it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing he was saying the same thing as Mr.

But he was saying it in a context which showed that this was only a single and contradicted aspect of the truth. Beckett fails as a serious novelist because he has involved himself in a false emotional simplification. He lies motionless on a miserable bed, in a cell bathed day and night in the same grey light, not really knowing where he is nor who he is. His memories are evanescent, perhaps imaginary. Is he talking about himself, or are they just creations of his mind? He dies without having managed to elucidate anything: his past life, his present illness, the places where he lived, the people he met.

He was searching for something, but what? Everything, including himself, disappears in an indistinct mist beyond time and space. Even the reality of his approaching death is not certain. It proclaims the nothingness of life, the nothingness of man; it moves in an absolute nihilism. After which, it is difficult to imagine that there could be anything left for Beckett but silence. The position of Mr. Beckett is quite unique. He has, since his association with James Joyce in the late twenties and early thirties been recognized as an astute critic.

In he contributed an excellent critical article to Shakespeare and Co. That translation presaged one of the directions Mr. For it is a noteworthy fact that he undertook the translation from English, his first language, into French, his second. Some twenty years later, Mr. Beckett was to publish a startling novel, written not in English, but directly in his adapted language. The example of a language-switch leads one inevitably to think of Joseph Conrad.

Both writers chose finally to write in tongues not theirs by birth. Beckett has, in a numerical sense at least, lost in choosing to write in French. No one is questioning the unquestionable merits of French as a language, nor trying to hold a brief for English as in any way the superior of the two languages. It is nevertheless a fait accompli that Mr.

Eliot have become English writers, and his work will ultimately be judged as a part of twentieth century French literature. One could speculate further on the reasons for Mr. It is sufficient to notice that he is undoubtedly a more adaptable, and perhaps a more honest person than most of his colleagues-in-exile; he is a prime example of that literary phenomenon which began some time during the last century and continues today, the writer in exile.

A writer divorced from his society places himself in a precarious position. An artist, a musician, can work under whatever sky, but a novelist, one of whose sources of material is the society into which he was born, risks, in turning his back on that society, cutting himself off both from that source of material and from his rightful literary heritage.

Moreover, by prolonged contact with a foreign environment, he risks losing his mastery of idiom, unless, as is the instance of James Joyce, he is strong enough to take his country with him, or, as in the instance of Beckett, he is adaptable enough to assume the obligations of his new environment. Whether Mr. Beckett consciously felt all this is a moot point. As late as he was still an Irish writer working in English.

The only commentary I have ever found which makes mention of them is Mr. The novel is set in the everyday surroundings of London and Dublin, with only minor deformations. Murphy is a comparatively young man-as in all Mr. Influenced by the environment of the asylum, he commits suicide.

Those of his acquaintances who throughout the book have been hunting for him— Miss Counihan, who thinks she loves Murphy, Neary, who thinks he loves Miss Counihan, etc. It is obvious that he must find another room. He rents a horse-drawn cab, whose obliging chauffeur, after fruitless efforts to find his homeless client a room, offers him the hospitality of his own apartment.

At dawn he abandons the stable for the street.


Ames vives, vous verrez que cela se ressemble. Molloy, an old man with one stiff leg and the other stiffening, sets out to find his dying mother, who lives somewhere in a city called X. Jacques Moran, who leads a tidy life tending his bees and his chickens, receives an order from the messenger Gaber, sent by the invisible Youdi, to go to find Molloy.

In company with his son, Moran sets out, knowing that the mission is futile, and that it will lead to the ruin of both himself and his son. Later, having failed to find Molloy, having lost his son somewhere along the way, Moran receives the order from Youdi to return home.

He obeys and arrives to find his hives dry, his chickens dead, his house abandoned. La pluie fouette les vitres. Je suis calme. Tout dort…Mon rapport sera long. Il est minuit. Il ne pleuvait pas. It has become almost gratuitous. Sapo, the sixteen year old boy, is subsequently transformed into MacMann, who crosses endless plains, beneath a driving rain, and finally lies down, Molloy-like, until he almost dissolves into the mud itself.

He finishes in an insane asylum, grows older, weaker, until his condition approaches that of Malone, his creator. While waiting for their friend, Godot, whom they only vaguely remember, they pass the time conversing endlessly and pointlessly. They are interrupted by the nobleman of the neighborhood, in front of whose tree they have chanced to wander. The nobleman is leading a man, Lucky, on a leash. To perform, Lucky stands upright, doffs his hat and recites, at an incredible pace, a tirade in which the worst blasphemies and the purest poetry intermingle at random.

In the end, a little boy arrives to announce that Mr. Godot will not come tonight, but that he will in all probability come tomorrow. The two tramps decide that, since the reason for their vigil no longer exists, or is at least postponed, they may as well lie down and go to sleep. The movement is away from the world of the body towards the world of the mind. He is aware of his own body, if only of its infirmities.

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As space has dissolved, so has time. Murphy, despite lapses, lends an ear to the tower chimes in order to reach Celia and home in time for supper. Molloy, if beyond hours, still moves through sunlight into shadow and back to sunlight again. The movement, then, is away from external precision towards the increasing autonomy of consciousness. Joyce undoubtedly had a profound influence on his younger compatriot, but Mr. They likewise have an affinity with M. Beckett was influenced by any or all of these writers, whether he borrowed from them, seems quite secondary. For as Mr. Eliot once remarked, the mature artist steals, the immature artist imitates.

And Mr. The inevitable question remains to be asked, What does Mr. The meaning, if there must be one, is perhaps latent in the lack of meaning. What is significant is insignificant; what is insigificant, significant, and therefore insignificant, and so on around the circle. Beckett builds, because building is a part of living, as destruction is a part of living. Inevitable and stinking.

Beckett destroys. His characters are never certain of their facts. So Mr. Beckett Samuel-Lemuel? Is it possible for Mr. Beckett to progress further without succumbing to the complete incoherence of inarticulate sound, to the silence of nothingness where mud and Molloy, where object and being are not only contiguous, but one? Perhaps the name is significant. Perhaps another time I shall tell another. Lively souls, you will see how much they resemble one another.

And when I was no longer there, I was again on my way towards her, hoping to do better the next time. Rain lashes the windows. I am calm. Everything is asleep… My report will be long. Perhaps I shall never finish it. It is midnight. Perhaps next month. That would make it the month of April or May…I could die today this very day, if I wished, merely by pushing a little, if I could wish, if I could push. One about a man, one about a woman, one about any old thing, and one about an animal, perhaps a bird.

Theater-lovers rarely have the pleasure of discovering a new author worthy of the name; an author who can give his dialogue true poetic force, who can animate his characters so vividly that the audience identifies with them, suffering and laughing with them; who, having meditated, does not amuse himself with mere word-juggling; who deserves comparison with the greatest. When this occurs, it is an event which will be spoken of for a long time, and will be remembered years later.

They heard people using everyday words, and they did not feel that by an inexplicable miracle—which is called art—the words suddenly acquired a new value. They saw people being happy and suffering, and they did not understand that they were watching their own lives. Each word acts as the author wishes, touching us or making us laugh.

These two tramps, who represent all humanity, utter remarks that any one of us might utter. These two men are feeble and energetic, cowardly and courageous; they bicker, amuse themselves, are bored, speak to each other without understanding. They do all this to keep busy. She and her husband, novelist James Braziel, live and write in a glass cabin that they are building by hand on Hydrangea Ridge.

For more information visit tinamozellebraziel. Panel: 2 p.. Jim is very proud to have been named the official writer of the Mellow Mushroom. Greg's passion for history is only matched by his fire to inspire children to reach higher heights. By day, Greg works in finance, coaches basketball and raises his two children. By night, he, along with Marcus Williams form the duo that has brought Tuskegee Heirs to life.

Through the years, he earned his living as a farm laborer, a grocery clerk, a military intelligence analyst, a supervisor for the Alabama Department of Revenue and a lawyer. After earning an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte, he found his way back to Elvis with The Land of Grace, a satirical novel involving an Elvis impersonator who is lured into a zealous religious cult founded on the worship of The King read a review!

Cheaha: Emerging Alabama Writers. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, Debra. Panel: 3 p. Olivia Cole is an author and blogger from Louisville, Kentucky. Her first picture book will be published by Bloomsbury in Olivia is the creator and curator of the all-women science-fiction themed art show Kindred. Road manager, writer, music producer, museum curator, motorcycle enthusiast, photographer The list goes on and on for Birmingham native Dick Cooper.

Good-natured and enthusiastic, Dick's photographs capture both the seriousness and the camaraderie of those unique studio sessions helmed by legendry producer Jerry Wexler. He also maintains a vast collection that includes tens of thousands of photographs that document the legendary Muscle Shoals music scene from the s through present day. Dick is the immediate past Curator of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and is responsible for the creation and design of many of the exhibits on display there. Joe Cuhaj is the author of six books that focus on the Alabama outdoors, including his latest, Best Dog Hikes: Alabama.

His first book, Hiking Alabama , was published in and is now in its fourth edition. William G. Bill co-founded Alabama Water Watch and directed this community-based water-monitoring program for 20 years. Panel: 10 a. Foster Dickson is a writer, editor, and award-winning teacher in Montgomery, Alabama. Dickson began teaching creative writing at Booker T. David Bronner's leadership on the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Since he has assisted the RSA with The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, negotiating for three sites, projecting economic impact studies for five sites and access roads for four sites, and producing booklets, articles, and news stories on various RSA initiatives.

Panel: 9 a. Marlena Frank has always been fascinated with monsters, and now gets to write about them. Frye Gaillard, writer in residence at the University of South Alabama, is the author of more than 25 works of non-fiction on Southern history, politics and culture. Steven Gish is a professor of history at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he has taught since He is a specialist in modern South African history. His previous books include Alfred B. He has traveled widely in South Africa since the s and has interviewed key figures in the anti-apartheid movement, including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Desmond Tutu.

Judge Debra H. Find out more about Debra at www. Jeremy has covered the news in Alabama since After years of chasing police through the Magic City as night reporter for the Birmingham News , he is currently a managing producer for Alabama Media Group, helping share breaking news on AL.

He lives in Moody, Alabama. It will haunt us. His stories and poems have been published in Callaloo , African American Review , Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement , and many other literary journals and anthologies. Since , he has taught creative writing and literature at Kennesaw State University, directing its M. Tony is currently finishing novels about Black Americans in Sweden and about school desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Panels: 1 p.

With novelist and artist Nicole Seitz, he is co-editor of the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy , published by the University of Georgia Press and featuring the remembrances of 67 writers befriended, mentored, and championed by the late Pat Conroy. A former educator, Bethany speaks and teaches across the country.

Panel: 2 p. In Beckett's case the process of revision, and hence creation, continued--consciously and deliberately--well beyond publication, which was, therefore, not always the statement of a work's "completion," a concept which seems alien to Beckett's oeuvre as a whole. Once Beckett intervened in the process of performance, had become his own Other in a series of theatrical self-collaborations, and began directing his own work in , he took those directorial opportunities to reread and so rewrite apparently completed texts yet again.

FN12 Conceptually for Beckett, the process of creation, of literary composition, did not end with publication. Initial publication might then be only an intermediary step in the work's evolution. But should such self-collaboration, Beckett's reading Beckett, particularly in the theater, be treated differently from that of any other reader's or director's readings?

Should it be given author-ity and hence priority? As a director then is Beckett only another reader of his work, coming to his text as an Other and so acting as a reader whose insights might have no more validity than any other reader's? They may or may not, but they are at least worth reading and knowing, even if they are allotted no more weight, no more author-ity than any other reasonably intelligent critic's readings.

Even the most ardent post-structuralist must concede that not all readings are equally insightful. This is why we read Derrida and other critics and theorists at all. What is clear from Beckett's post-publication revisions of his texts, his Theatrical Notebooks, and finally his stagings of his own plays, is that Beckett is an extraordinarily adept reader of Beckett. His Theatrical Notebooks, for instance, contain a remarkable wealth of information, speculation, and structural outlines of his work, all of which open the text rather than close it.

Despite Beckett's disclaimers to be incapable of writing a critical introduction to his own work, as a director he has come close to doing precisely that. Beckett's Theatrical Notebooks disclosed details of his work heretofore unseen by other critics. His direction is marked by a surprising amount of realistic subtext, for instance.

As usual Beckett insisted in his direction of Endspiel on not intellectualizing his text in rehearsals. He noted early on, "I don't want to talk about my play, it has to be taken purely dramatically, to take shape on the stage Here the only interest of the play is as dramatic material.

It is one that many a director has delivered to his actors early in rehearsals. In the theater, one plays action not ideas. What is surprising, however, is that Beckett also suggested a realistic presentation: "The play is to be acted as though there were a fourth wall where the footlights are. For "Have you bled," he told Clov, "you see something in his face, that's why you're asking. In the Riverside notebook Beckett writes: "C perplexed. All seemingly in order, yet a change. Pattern is crucial to Beckett's art, and patterning dominates his theatrical notes and productions: motion is repeated to echo other motion, posture to echo other posture, gestures to echo other gestures, sounds to echo other sounds.

The principal of analogy is fundamental, and much of that analogy is detailed in the theatrical notebooks. In the Riverside notebook for Endgame Beckett says, for instance, "analogy N's knocks on lid, H's on wall"; "Analogy Clov-dog when trying to make it stand"; "Analogy voice and attitude of Hamm during his narration with N's tailor story" Theatrical II The action is filled with circles, arcs, and crosses, from Hamm's rounds to Clov's thinking walk.

The linguistic analogue to such patterning is the revision of phrases to echo each other. Even when the phrasing is not parallel, Beckett established an echo, as in the Schiller Theater notebook, where he suggests that "Why this farce" should have the "same quality as 'Let's stop playing " II Beckett's own direction of Endgame seems a fulfillment of the structure he originally outlined for Roger Blin's Fin de partie in At first, he looked on his play as a kind of musical score.

When a word occurred or was repeated, when Hamm called Clov, Clov should always come in the same way every time, like a musical phrase coming from the same instrument with the same volume.

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Ten years later Beckett realized this musical conception of the play. Even though they are written in German, the two notebooks that Beckett prepared for his Schiller Theater production of Spiel Play are equally revealing. They demonstrate Beckett's near obsession with language German in this case , structure, and formal detail--all three of which are, of course, inextricably entwined. Beckett's notebooks not only comprise a motif index to his plays, they constitute as well a remarkably detailed external record of the artist's internal processes and struggles.

They document Beckett's continued aesthetic and stylistic development. At the head of a series of notes he prepared for Donald McWhinnie's Royal Court production of That Time Beckett wrote what amounts to a one-sentence theatrical manifesto, the most succinct and explicit statement of his late aesthetics that we have: "To the objection that visual component too small, out of all proportion with aural, answer: make it smaller, on the principle that less is more.

The Eh, Joe notebook which Beckett prepared for the second of his German productions outlines succinctly the central thematic and theatrical conflicts of this his first teleplay. While Joe may be "Out of sight, and so consequently out of reach," for example, he would not feel safe even without the assailing voice because of his "Fear of Dark. In the notebook for Tritte Footfalls Beckett makes explicit the relationships among the embedded characters of that play in his discussion of voices. The Kommen und Gehen Come and Go notebook details Beckett's preoccupation with pattern in theater space.

While Beckett rethought the da capo ending of Spiel, he considered adding a similar repetition to Kommen und Gehen. Although he outlined the pattern of what would amount to a second act to the play in his directorial notebook, he finally dismissed the possibility as "Mathematically desirable but logically impossible" IV Not all aesthetic and theatrical and finally textual issues, however, were resolved during productions. Having worked closely with Anthony Page on the Royal Court Theatre production of Not I and having directed it himself in at the Theatre d'Orsay, Beckett still remained ambivalent about the final visual image of the play.

The best advice that he could finally offer directors of Not I was to omit the Auditor. As he wrote to a pair of directors on 16 November , "I should have written He is very difficult to stage light--position and may well be of more harm than good. For me the play needs him but I can do without him. I have never seen him function effectively.

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  • For the French productions with Madeleine Renaud, which he directed himself, Beckett omitted the Auditor altogether, as did the B. To date no script for the play suggests that the elimination of the Auditor is a directorial option. One solution then to the problems of postmodern textual multiplicity is that offered by Beckett's English-language publishers Faber and Faber and Grove Press in the current series entitled The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. That series contains the theatrical notebooks Beckett kept for a particular work, published in facsimile, transcription, translation where necessary , and annotations along with the revised texts.

    The revised texts which accompany the theatrical notebooks and are often justified by them are also fully annotated so that each of Beckett's changes will be at least noted and often discussed. The result is something like a postmodern performance text, with an emphasis on process and transformation, which traces and documents Beckett's post-publication creative process.

    The Theatrical Notebooks series offers, then, not a definitive or uncorrupted or static text, the telos of the creative process, but rather a processive text, a multiplicity or plurality of texts whose endpoint is only Beckett's latest rereading of Beckett. The revised text may place the original published text under erasure by superimposing a later stage of creative development over it but without necessarily obliterating it. By presenting the textual and production possibilities of Beckett's texts, then, a postmodern dramatic text emerges, one which features Beckett's post-publication creative process and one which opens up reading and performance possibilities.

    It is admittedly an unstable text, but the instability exists within set textual limits. As a generic text the revised texts of Beckett's plays bear similarities not to Hans Gabler's "reading text," the one finally published as the Vintage "corrected" Ulysses, but to his "synoptic" text with all its variants, although in Beckett's case the generic text features post-publication changes exclusively.

    For his "ideal" text, Gabler abandoned the traditional textual goal of retrieving the author's final intentions and focused on the process of composition, the authorial function.

    As Jerome McGann notes, "In fact, all texts are unstable to the extent that they are all processive and in Gabler's terms 'continuous. At the same time, all are fixed within certain real, determinable limits as they assume certain specific form" Traditional critics tend to overlook the former, post-structuralists the latter. Faber and Faber will indeed publish Beckett's revised and corrected texts separately and without the theatrical apparatus I have been describing, but that's a business decision, not a theoretical one.

    The critically and theoretically significant texts are the "synoptic" versions published in the Theatrical Notebooks series. Home Editing Beckett. Copyright: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Editing Beckett It is no small irony that for a writer so punctilious about his texts--especially their performance--Samuel Beckett's work has been subject to so much inept editing and so many publication blunders that he could lament to his "official" biographer, James Knowlson, "My texts are in a terrible mess.

    Out of sight, reach. Fear of dark. Rupture formula--"Best to come" 1. Voices in head--behind the eyes. Mental thugee. Present voice last, then his own to still, then silence till God's, unstillable. Clues for voice and hearer. Worse when nearly home. What if final whisper unstillable? God to him 1. Deficient in kindness, strength, intelligence, looks, cleanliness, normality. Green one. Duly laid. Same as 4. Voice falling to whisper. Theatrical IV See, for example, Mel Gussow "Plan" and the follow-up story "Early.

    For a full accounting of these variants see Hersh Zeifman. For a fuller account of this story see Enoch Brater Conversations with the author. Alec Reid makes something of the same point in the posthumously published "Impact and Parable in Beckett. Copy of letter in possession of S. See the text established by Breon Mitchell and discussion of his textual corrections. The relationship between contemporary critical theory and traditional textual studies has been receiving increasing scholarly attention of late.

    See particularly D.