The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett

The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett

The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett

The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett

Excerpt

A man alone in a room covers paper with words.As he does so, time passes. It is the most elementary description of an activity, the writer's. Concerned, as always, with the fundamentals of the form he is using Beckett makes this situation the basis of his central work, the trilogy of novels Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. Unlike Beckett's earlier English fiction where the author enjoys the relatively omniscient position of the third person narrative the hero now tells his own story in the first person, writing his monologue in a notebook which, supposedly, is identical in content to the volume we are reading.Even when, in the struggle to remove everything extraneous to the Self for which he is searching, pencil and paper are discarded or lost, the hero still continues with his story, speaking it aloud for, he suggests, an unknown and probably non-existent scribe to copy down.

In the ambiguous relationship which he has with his characters it is Beckett who undertakes this role.Like his characters his life has been spent, with a remarkable purity and tenacity of purpose, creating what he regards as an arduous pensum. In the attempt to discover the fixed nature of the Self, the constant search within all his work, he has made use of these seemingly autonomous characters, Malone and the Unnamable, as they in their turn claim to have invented others, Macmann, Mahood or Worm, in the endeavour they share with him to escape from the prison of time and words into the timeless and . . .

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