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‘Saying’ as ‘Inventing’

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:14 AM
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From ‘ON’ to ‘NO’ in Samuel Beckett’s (N)-O-(N)- Narrative



v “What I need now is stories, it took me a long time to know that , and I’m not sure of it.” ----------------- Molloy in                           Molloy1



v “Stories, stories. I have not been able to tell them. I shall not be able to tell this one.” ----------------- Moran in   Molloy2

First compulsion. Last extinction. Somewhere in the middle, caught in a narrative Bermuda triangle, is Samuel Beckett’s being or may be a non-being of sorts---a self, an other, moving towards unnamability. It is the imposed authority of a narrative performance & its pre-fabricated futility as the Beckett of Worstward Ho (1983) prescribes--- “Ever tried. Ever failed. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”3 So is Molloy (1950), a prior & better failure! “better-worse”4 so!

As it is said, Joyce expands while Beckett contracts. Joyce operates with omniscience while Beckett, in his own words, with ‘impotence’. As J.M. Coetzee remarks, Beckett truly represents writing at a zero-frame or the impossibility of it. But, what about reality? Its representation? What about Beckett then? Anthony Cronin’s ‘the last modernist’ or David Lodge’s ‘the first postmodernist’?   No monolithic positions can ever be found in Beckett, especially when they are ideological; there survives only a toppling over to an elsewhere that flourishes as a narrative impossibility in Beckett. A perceptive reader? Right you are. I echoed Julia Kristeva on Beckett5. It is just like Beckett’s own narratives which only echo external narratives instead of external realities ,the extreme culmination of a technique we encounter in Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A traveler6 (1981) where all reality can ever be is narrative. Anthony Cronin comments on Molloy , Malone dies (1955) , The Unnamable (1955) --- “…in these books there are fictions, within fictions, & fictions within them again.”7

Molloy has a two-fold...

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