Samuel Beckett: Quotations (1)


Quotations from the works

Quotations from the works

Dream of Fair to Middling Women (1931)
More Pricks Than Kicks (1934)
Murphy (1938)
Mercier and Camier [1946]
Watt (1959)
Molloy (1953)
Malone Dies (1956)
The Unnamable (1958)
Waiting For Godot (1956)
Endgame (1957)
All That Fall (1957)
Krapp’s Last Tape (1959)
Happy Days (1962)
Imagine Dead Imagine (1966)
First Love (1946; 1970)
The Calmative (1970)
Not I(1972)
Company (1980)
Ill Seen Ill Said (1981)
The Expelled (1984)
Stirrings Still (1988)

Beckett in his own words

“Dante… Bruno. Vico.. Joyce” (1929)
Proust (1931)
“Recent Irish Poetry” (1934)
Three Dialogues of G. Duhuit [1949]
In Conversation with C. Juliet (1995)
Letter to Axel Kaun (1937)
Letter to Thomas MacGreevy (1938)
Letter to Alan Schneider [q.d.]
Letter to Donald McWhinnie (1960)
“German Notebooks, 1936-37”
Bad old times (Letter of 1937)
‘All I can manage …’
‘Nothing to express …’
Where Irish writers come from […]
Homo historicus?
On Waiting for Godot
On Endgame
On James Joyce
God’s gift to Man?
Childhood
Mother’s love
Father’s death
Unhappy Days
The value of the theatre […]
The value of religion […]
Beckett at St. Lô
Writing in French
Beckett’s Last Poem
[ See also remarks on ‘art’ and ‘clarity’ in a review of Denis Devlin’s Intercessions - under Devlin, supra. ]

Casket of Pralinen for a Daughter of a Dissipated Mandarin
‘[...] Now me boy / take a hitch in your lyrical loinstring, / What is this that is more / than the anguish of Beauty, / this gale of pain that was not prepared / in the cave of her eyes? // Is it enough to stitch in the hem of the garmet of God? / Tonight her gaze would be less than a lark’s barred sunlight. Fool! do you hope to untangle / the knot of God’s pain? // Melancholy Christ that was a soft one! / Oh yes I think that was perhaps just a very little inclined to be rather too self-conscious.’ [... &c.]

—In Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett: A Critical Edition, ed. Seán Lawlor & John Pilling (London: Faber & Faber 2012), [Appendix,] pp.235-37, p.236.


Beckett on Jack Yeats: ‘He [Jack Yeats] brings light, as only the great dare to bring light, to the issueless predicament of existence.’ (From ‘MacGreevy on Yeats’, [review] in The Irish Times, 4 Aug. 1945.) Note: He also remarks, ‘There is at least this to be said for mind, that it can dispel mind.’ (Quoted on Beckett Facebook page - online; accessed 29.01.2015.)

Beckett in response to a letter of enquiry from Sighle Kennedy (NGA): ‘I don’t have thoughts about my work. So don’t be upset if my answer to your question is a no. It is not a reasoned one. I simply do not feel the presence in my writings as a whole of the Joyce & Proust situations you evoke. [...] Bon courage quand même.’ (Disjecta, 1983; p.113; quoted in Kingsley Hepburn, “The Early Samuel Beckett: An Un-philosophical Approach” [MA Diss.] QUB 2010.)

[See also Kennedy's Murphy’s Bed: A Study of Real Sources and Sur-real Associations in Samuel Beckett’s First Novel (Bucknell UP 1971).]


Full-text versions in RICORSO Library
Prose
First Love (1946; pub 1970)
[...]
Drama
Endgame (1958) Krapp’s Last Tape (1959)
Criticism
”Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce” (1929)*  
*See also extracts under Joyce, supra.

‘No symbols where none intended’ — Watt [closing passage].

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‘It was not under that the rare birds of Murphy’s feather desired to stand, but by, by themselves with the best of their attention and by the others of their species with any that might be left over.’ (Quoted in Vicki Mahaffey, Reauthorizing Joyce, Cambridge 1988, p.xi; see also longer quotation and commentary in Anthony Ulhmann, Samuel Beckett and the Philosophical Image, Cambridge UP 2006, p.76 - as attached.)
 
‘For the only way one can speak of nothing is to speak of it as though it were something, just as the only way one can speak of God is to speak of him as though he was a man, which to be sure he was, in a sense, for a time; and as the only way one can speak of man, even our anthropologists have realised that, is to speak of him as though he were a termite.’ (Watt; quoted in Daniel Murphy, Imagination and Religion in Anglo-Irish Literature 1930-1980, Dublin: IAP 1987, Introduction.)
 
[H]ere is no night so deep, so I have heard tell, that it may not be pierced at the end, with the help of no other light than that of the blackened sky or of the earth itself.’ (Unnameable, 1975, p.15; quoted in Daniel Murphy, op. cit. 1987, p.12.)

‘Ever tried. Every failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ — Worstward Ho! (p.7; See full-text version in RICORSO Library “Irish Classics”- infra.]

Dream of Fair to Middling Women (1931; publ. 1992): ‘The fact of the matter is we do not quite know where we are in this story. It is possible that some of our creatures will do their dope all right and give no trouble. And it is certain that others will not. Let us suppose that Nemo John, most of the parents, the smeraldina-rima, the Syra-Cusa, the [A]lba, the Mandarin, the Polar Bear, Lucien, Chas, are a few of those that will, that stand, that is, for something or can be made to stand for something. It is to be hoped that we can make them stand for something. Whereas it is almost certain that Nemo cannot be made, at least not by us, [to] stand for something. He is simply not that kind of person.’ (1992 Edn., p.9; quoted in Pattie, op. cit., 2000, pp.53-54.)

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More Pricks Than Kicks (1934; Picador eds.): “DANTE AND THE LOBSTER”, It was morning and Belacqua was stuck in the first canti of the moon. He was so bogged that he could move neither backward nor forward. Blissful Beatrice was there, Dante also, and she explained the spots on the moon to him [… 9]. He leaned back in his chair to feel his mind subside and the itch of his mean quodlibet die down. Nothing could be done until his mind got better and was still, which it gradually did. [10]. For the tiller of the field the thing was simple, he had it from his mother. The spots were Cain with his truss of thorns, dispossessed, cursed from the earth, fugitive and vagabond. The moon was that countenance fallen and branded, seared with the first stigma of God’s pity, that an outcast might not die quickly. It was a mix-up in the mind of the tiller, but that did not matter. It had been good enough for his mother, it was good enough for him. [11]. The rather handsome face of McCabe stared up at him […] Now the barrel-loaf came out of its biscuit-tin and had its end evened off on the face of McCabe [10; […/…] the Malahide murderer’s petition for mercy, signed by half the land, having been rejected, the man must swing at dawn in Mountjoy and nothing could save him. Ellis the hangman was even now on his way. Belacqua, tearing at the sandwich and swilling his precious stout, pondered on McCabe in his cell. [15 …] Why not mercy and piety both, even down below? Why not mercy and Godliness together? A little mercy in the stress of sacrifice, a little mercy to rejoice against judgement. He thought of Jonah and the gourd and the pity of a jealous God on Nineveh. And poor McCabe, he would get it in the neck at dawn. What was he doing now, how was he feeling? He would relish one more meal, one more night. [18]. ‘in the depths of the sea it had crept into the cruel pot. For hours, in the midst of its enemies, it had breathed secretly. It had survived the Frenchwoman’s cat and his witless clutch. Now it was going alive into scalding water. it had to. Take into the air my quiet breath. / Belaqua looked at the old parchment of her face, grey in the dim kitchen. / “You make a fuss”, she said angrily, “and upset me and then lash into it for your dinner”/ / She lifted the lobster clear of the table. It had about thirty seconds to live. / Well, thought Belaqua, it’s a quick death, God help us all. / It is not.’ [21] (For longer extracts, see attached.)

[Note: Belaqua of More Pricks and Kicks is first encountered in Ante-Purgatory of the Purgatorio, Canto IV - a friend of Dante’s who must remain in Purgatory for 75 years having been too lazy to recant his sins until the last moments of his life. The phrase ‘Che sciagura’ is attributed to a eunuch in Voltaire’s Candide, not Dante’s Inferno.]

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Murphy (1938) - Selected Passages [Picador Edn. 1973]: At this moment Murphy would willingly have waived his expectation of Antepurgatory for five minutes in his chair, renounced the lee of Belacqua’s rock and his embryonal repose, looking down at dawn across the reeds to the trembling of the austral sea and the sun obliquing to the north as it rose, immune from expiation until dreaming of an infant, from the spermarium to the crematorium. He thought so highly of this post-mortem situation, its advantages were present in such detail to his mind, that he actually hoped he might live to be old. The he would have a long time lying there dreaming, watching the dayspring run through its zodiac, before the toil up hill to Paradise. The gradient was outrageous, one in less than one. God grant no godly chandler would shorten his time with a good prayer. [/…/] This was his Belacqua fantasy… It belong to those that lay just beyond the frontiers of suffering, it was the first landscape of freedom [48].

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Murphy’s law: the freedom of indifference, the indifference of freedom… He therefore… disconnected his mind from the gross importunities of sensation and reflection and composed himself on the hollow of his back for the torpor he had been craving to enter for the past five hours. [61 […] nothing can stop me now, was his last thought before he lapsed into consciousness […] he slipped away, from the pensums and prizes […] to where there were no pensums and prizes, but only Murphy, improved out of all knowledge [62].

The Kick: ‘Perhaps there was, outside space and time, a non-mental non-physical Kick from all eternity, dimly revealed to Murphy in its correlated modes of consciousness and extension. The kick in intellectu and kick in re. But where then was the supreme Caress?’ (p.70; quoted in Kingsley Hepburn, “The Early Samuel Beckett: An Un-philosophical Approach” [MA Diss.] QUB 2010.)

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Murphy’s demise: He drew up the ladder, lit the dip sconced in its own grease on the floor and tied himself up in the chair, dimly intending to have a short rock and then, if he felt any beter, to dress and go, before the day staff were about, leaving Ticklepenny to face the music, music, MISUC, back to Brewery Road, to Celia, serenade, nocturne, albada. […] At one of the rock’s dead points he saw, for a second, far beneath, the dip and radiator, gleam and frin; at the other the skylight, open to no starts […] The rock got faster and faster, shorter and shorter, the gleam was gone, the grin was gone, the starlessness was gone, soon his body would be quiet. Most things under the moon got slower and slower and then stopped, a rock got faster and faster and then stopped. Soon his body would be quiet, soon he would be free. / The gas went on in the wc, excellent gas, superfine chaos. / Soon his body was quiet. [142]; modus morendi, a classic case of misadventure [147]; With regard to the disposal of these my body, mind and soul, I desire that they be burnt and placed in a paper bag and brought to the Abbey theatre, Lr. Abbey Street, Dublin, and without pause in what the great and good Lord Chesterfield calls the necessary house, where their happiest hours have been spent, on the right as one goes down into the pit, and I desire that the chain be there pulled upon them, if possible during the performance of a piece, the whole to be executed without ceremony or show of grief. [151] [Cooper takes the ashes to a pub:] By closing time the body, mind and soul of Murphy were freely distributed over the floor of the saloon… [and] swept away with the sand, the beer, the butts, the glass, the matches, the spits, the vomit. [154]; There was no shorter way home […] the levers were the tired heart. lakes, the rivers, the streams, the brooks, the mists, the - er - fens, the -er - glens, by tonight’s train. [152] (For more extensive extract, see attached.)

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Mercier and Camier [1946] (first pub. 1970; English trans. 1974): ‘It cuts across vast turfbogs, a thousand feet above sea-level, two thousand if you prefer. It leads to nothing any more. A few ruined forts, a few ruined dwellings. The sea is not far, just visible beyond the valleys dipping eastward, pale plinth as pale as the pale wall of sky. Tarns lie hidden in the folds of the moor, invisible from the road, reached by faint paths, under high over-hanging crags […]. Under its heather mask the quag allures, with an allurement not all mortals can resist. Then it swallows them up or the mist comes down. The city is not far either, from certain points its lights can be seen by night, its light rather, and by day its haze. Even the piers of the harbour can be distinguished, on very clear days, of the two harbours, tiny arms in the glassy sea outflung, known flat, seen raised. And the islands and promontories, one has only to stop and turn at the right place, and of course by night the beacon lights, both flashing and revolving […]. End of descriptive passage.’

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First Love [in First Love and Other Shorts, London: Calder 1973, pp.1-30: ‘What constitutes the charm of this country, apart of course from its scant population, and this without the help of the meanest contraception, is that all is derelict, with the sole exception of history’s ancient faeces. These are ardently sought after, stuffed and carried in procession. Wherever nauseated time has dropped a nice fat turd you will find our patriots, sniffing it up on all fours, their faces on fire. Elysium of the roofless.’ (p.21; quoted in Colm Tóibín, ‘New Ways to Kill Your Father: Historical Revisionism’, in Karl-Heinz Westarp & Michael Böss, eds., Ireland: Towards new Identities?, Aarhus UP 1998, pp.28-36; p.34.) [Cont.]

More: ‘You have only to put your feet on my knees, she said. I didn’t wait to be asked twice, under my miserable calves. I felt her fat thighs. She began stroking my ankles. I considered kicking her in the cunt. You speak to people about stretching out and they immediately see a body at full length. What mattered to me in my dispeopled kingdom, that in regard to which the disposition of my carcass was the merest and most futile of accidents, was supineness in the mind, the dulling of the self and of that residue of execrable frippery known as the non-self and even the world, for short. But man is still today, at the age of twenty-five, at the mercy of an erection, physically too, from time to time, it’s the common lot, even I was not immune, if that may be called an erection. It did not escape her naturally, women smell the rigid phallus ten miles away and wonder, How on earth did he spot me from there? One is no longer oneself, on such occasions, and it is painful to be no longer oneself, even more painful if possible than when one is.’ (Ibid., p.13.)

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First Love (written in French [Premier Amour], 1946; pub. 1970; in English, 1974): ‘I told her to come just the odd time. I didn’t understand women at that period. […] what I understand best […] are my pains […] those of the mind, those of the heart […] those of the soul […] those of the frame proper.’ (The Expelled and Other Novellas, Penguin, 1980, p.16.)

More: ‘But I have always spoken […] of things that never existed, or that existed […] no doubt always will, but not with the existence I ascribed to them.’ (Idem.) ‘That must come from my not being all pain and nothing else. There’s the rub.’ (idem.) [Cont.]

First Love (1974): ‘For had my love been of his kind would I have stooped to inscribe the letters of Anna in time’s forgotten cowplats? (p.19.) ‘I admired in spite of the dark, in spite of my fluster, the way still or scarcely flowing water reaches up, as though athirst, to that falling from the sky.’ (p.23.) ‘It took me a long time, my lifetime so to speak, to realise that the colour of an eye half seen, or the source of some distant sound, are closer to […] the origin of protoplasm, or the existence of self, and even less worthy than these to occupy the wise.’ (p.27.) ‘So you live by prostitution, I said. We live by prostitution, she said.’ (p.28.) ‘As long as I kept walking I didn’t hear them, because of the footsteps […] all that matters is that it should cease.’ (p.30; for further extracts, see attached.)

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Watt (English trans. 1959): ‘headlong tardigrade’; ‘Watt began to invert, no longer the order of the letters in the word together with that of the sentences in the period, but that of the letters in the word together with that of the words in the sentence together with that of the sentences in the period. For example, Dis yb, nem owt [… &c.] It took me a long time to get used to this’ [167-68] I edit Crux, said Mr Spiro, the popular Catholic monthly. We do not pay our contributors, but they benefit in other ways. Our advertisements are extraordinary. We keep our tonsure above water. Our prize competitions are very nice. Times are hard, water in every wine. Of a devout twist, they do more good than harm. For example, Rearrange the fifteen letters of the Holy Family to form a questions and answer. Winning Entry, has J. Jurns a po? Yes. [27]; ‘[H]aving oscillated all his life between the torments of a superficial loitering and the horrors of disinterested endeavour, he finds himself at last in a situation where to do nothing exclusively would be an act of the highest value, and significance’ [41]; Watt had instructions to empty these slops, not in the way that slops are usually emptied, no, but in the garden, before sunrise, or after sunrise, on the violet bed in violet time, and on the pansy bed in pansy time, and on the rose bed in rose time, and on the celery banks in celery time, and on the seakale beds in seakale time, and in the tomato house in tomato time, and so on, always in the garden, in the flower garden, and in the vegetable garden, in the fruit garden, on some growing thirsty thing at the moment of its most need’ [67-68]; ‘As for himself, though he could no longer call it a man, as he had used to do, with the intuition that he was perhaps not talking nonsense, yet he could not imagine what else to call it, if not a man. But Watt’s imagination had never been a lively one. So he continued to think of himself as a man, as his mother had taught him, when she said There’s a good little man, or There’s a bonny little man, or There’s a clever little man. But for all the relief that this afforded him he might just as well have thought of himself as a box, or an urn.’ [p.80.]

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Watt (Addendum to text.; Calder Edn.): ‘For all the good that frequent departures out of Ireland had done him, he might as well have just stayed there.’ [q.p.]; ‘No symbols where none intended’; ‘never been properly born’; ‘for all the good that frequent deparutres out of Ireland had done him, he might just as well have stayed at home,’ [On Watt & Sam]: ‘For since when were Watt’s concerns with what things were, in reality? [227] Of Sam: ‘desirous above all of information’ [165] Sam regards Watt’s aestheticism as ‘a very interesting exercise’ [126] and ‘fascinating study’ [136]; Watt is sensitive to ‘what was acceptable to the ear, and the aesthetic judgement’ and hopes to make ‘a pillow of old words’; Sam acknowledges failure to record accurately Watt’s permutations of letters, sentences, periods, etc., ‘I recall no example of this manner [because] these were sounds that at first, though we walked clued together, were so much Irish to me. Thus I misses I suppose much I presume of great interest touching I suspect the eight and final stage of the second and closing period of Watt’s stay in Mr Knott’s house.’ [169] (All the foregoing quoted in Harrington, The Irish Beckett, 1991.)

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Molloy (1951; English trans. 1953): ‘[…] This time, then once more I think, then perhaps a last time, then I think it’ll he over, with that world too. Premonition of the last but one but one. All grows dim. A little more and you’ll go blind. It’s in the head. It doesn’t work any more, it says, I don’t work any more. You go dumb as well and sounds fade. The threshold scarcely crossed that’s how it is. It’s the head. It must have had enough. So that you say, I’ll manage this time, then perhaps once more, then perhaps a last time, then nothing more. You are hard set to formulate this thought, for it is one, in a sense. Then you try to pay atten.tion, to consider with attention all those dim things, saying to yourself, laboriously, It’s my fault. Fault? That was the word. But what fault? It’s not good-bye, and what magic in those dim things to which it will be time enough, when next they pass, to say good-bye. For you must say good-bye, it would be madness not to say good-bye, when the time comes. If you think of the forms and light of other days it is without regret. But you seldom think of them, with what would you think of them? I don’t know. People pass too, hard to distinguish from yourself. That is discouraging. So I saw A and C going slowly towards each other, unconscious of what they were doing. It was on a road remarkably bare, I mean without hedges or ditches or any kind of edge, in the country, for cows were chewing in enormous fields, lying and standing, in the evening silence. Perhaps I’m inventing a little, perhaps embellishing, but on the whole that’s the way it was, They chew, swallow, then after a short pause effortlessly bring up the next mouthful. A neck muscle stirs and the jaws begin to grind again….’ (1951 Edn., p.8.)

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Molloy (1951; English trans. 1953): ‘I had been living so far from words so long, you understand, that it was enough for me to see my town, since we’re talking of my town, to he unable, you understand. It’s too difficult to say, for me. And even my sense of identity was wrapped in a namelessness often hard to penetrate, as we have just seen I think. And so on for all the other things which made merry with my senses. Yes, even then, when already all was fading, waves and particles, there could be no things but nameless things, no names but thingless names. I say that now, but after all what do I know now about then, now when the icy words hail down upon me, the icy meanings, and the world dies too, foully named. All I know is what the words know, and the dead things, and that makes a handsome little sum, with a beginning, a middle and an end as in the well-built phrase and the long sonata of the dead. And truly it little matters what I say, this or that or any other thing. Saying is inventing. Wrong, very rightly wrong. You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson, the remnants of a pensum one day got by heart and long forgotten, life without tears, as it is wept. To, hell with it anyway. Where was I. Unable to remember the name of my town I resolved to stop by the kerb, to wait for a passer-by with a friendly and intelligent air and then to whip off my hat and say, with my smile, I beg your pardon Sir, excuse me Sir, what is the name of this town, if you please? For the word once let fall I would know if it was the right word, the one I was seeking, in my memory, or another, and so where I stood. This resolution, actually formed as I rode along, was never to be carried out, an absurd mishap prevented it. Yes, my resolutions were remarkable in this, that they were no sooner formed than something always happened to prevent their execution. That must be why I am even less, resolute now than then, just as then I was even less so than I once had been. But to tell the truth (to tell the truth!) I have never been particularly resolute, I mean given to resolutions, but rather inclined to plunge headlong into the shit, without [33] knowing who was shitting against whom or on which side I had the better chance of skulking with success. But from this leaning too I derived scant satisfaction and if I have never quite got rid of it it is not for want of trying. The fact is, it seems, that the most you can hope is to be a little less, in the end, the creature you were in the beginning, and in the middle.’ (Ibid., pp.32-33)

Molloy (1951; English trans. 1953): ‘For to know nothing is nothing, not to want to know anything likewise, but to be beyond knowing anything, to know you are beyond knowing anything, that is when peace enters in, to the soul of the incurious seeker.’ (Trilogy, Picador 1976, p.59; quoted in Paula McDonald, PG Dip., UU 2011.) [For longer extracts see Molloy, Trilogy Edn. - attached.]

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Malone Dies (1956; Trilogy Edn. 1959 &c.): ‘Live and invent. I have tried. I must have tried. Invent. It is not the word. Neither is live. No matter. I have tried. While within me the wild beast of earnestness padded up and down, rearing, ravening, rending. I have done that. And all alone, well hidden, played the clown, all alone, hour after hour, motionless, often standing, spellbound, groaning. That’s right, groan. I couldn’t play. I turned till I was dizzy, clapped my hands, ran, shouted, saw myself winning, saw myself losing, rejoicing, lamenting. Then suddenly I threw myself on the playthings, if there were any, or on a child, to change his joy to howling, or I fled, to hiding. The grownups pursued me, the just, caught me, beat me hounded me back into the ground, the game, the jollity. For I was already in the toils of earnestness. That has been my disease. I was born grave as others syphilitic. And gravely I struggled to be grave no more, to live, to invent, I know what I mean. But at each fresh attempt I lost my head, fled to my shadows as to sanctuary, to his lap who can neither live nor suffer the sight of others living. I say living without knowing what it is. I tried to live without knowing what I was trying. Perhaps I have lived after all, without knowing. I wonder why I speak of all this. Ah yes, to relieve the tedium. Live and cause to live. There is no use indicating words, they are no shoddier than what they peddle. After the fiasco, the solace, the repose, I began again, to try and live, cause to live, be another, in myself, in another. How false all this is. No time now to explain. I began again. But little by little with a different aim, no longer in order to succeed, but in order to fail. Nuance. What I sought, when I struggled out of my hole, then aloft through the stinging air towards an inaccessible boon, was the rapture of vertigo, the letting go, the fall, the gulf, the relapse to darkness, to nothingness, to earnestness, to home, to him waiting for me always, who needed me, and whom I needed, who took me in his arms and told me to stay with him always, who gave me his place and watched over me, who suffered every time I left him, whom I have often made suffer and seldom contented, whom I have never seen. There I am forgetting myself again. My concern is not with me but with another, [179] far beneath me and whom I try to envy, of whose crass adventures I can now tell at last, I don’t know how. Of myself I could never tell, any more than live or tell of others. How could I have, who never tried? To show myself now, on the point of vanishing, at the same time as the stranger, and by the same grace, that would be no ordinary last straw. Then live, long enough to feel, behind my closed eyes, other eyes close. What an end.’ (pp.179-80.)

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The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Calder Edn. 1959): ‘What puzzles me is the thought of being indebted for this information to persons with whom I have never been in contact (p.300.) ‘I was given a pensum at birth perhaps, as a punishment for having been born’ (p.310.) ‘Strange notion in any case, and eminently open to suspicion, that of a task to be performed, before one can be at rest. Strange task, which consists in speaking of oneself. Strange hope, turned towards silence and peace.’ (p.313.)

The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Calder Edn. 1959): ‘What I speak of, what I speak with, all comes from them. It’s all the same to me, but it’s no good, there’s no end to it. It’s of me now I must speak, even if I have to do it with [this] language, it will be a start, a step towards silence and the end of madness, the madness of having to speak and not being able to, except of things that don’t concern me, that don’t count, that I don’t believe, that they have crammed me full of to prevent me from saying who I am, where I am, and from doing what I have to do in the only way that can put an end to it, from doing what I have to do’ (Trilogy, Calder Edn., p.327.)

The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Calder Edn. 1959): ‘But the other voice, of him who does not share this passion for the animal kingdom, who is waiting to hear from me, what is its burden? Nice point, too nice for me […] Faint calls, at long intervals. Hear me! Be yourself again! Someone has therefore something to say to me. […] I. Who might that be? The galley-man, bound for the Pillars of Hercules, who drops his sweep under cover of night and crawls between the thwarts, towards the rising sun, unseen by the guard, praying for storm. Except that I’ve stopped praying for anything. No no, I, still a suppliant. I’ll get over it, between now and the last voyage, on this leaden sea. It’s like the other madness, the mad wish to know, to remember, one’s transgressions. (Trilogy, Calder Edn., pp.338-39.)

The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Calder Edn. 1959): ‘Is there a single word of mine in what I say? No, I have no voice, in this matter I have none. That’s one of the reasons why I confused myself with Worm. But I have no reason either, no reason, I’m like Worm, without voice or reason, I’m Worm, no, if I were Worm I wouldn’t know it, I wouldn’t say it, I wouldn’t say anything I’d be Worm. But I don’t say anything, I don’t know anything, these voices are not mine, nor these thoughts, but the voices and the thoughts of the devils who beset me. Who makes me say that I can’t be Worm, the unexpungable […] That since I couldn’t be Mahood, as I might have been, I must be Worm, as I cannot be […] (Trilogy, Calder Edn., p.350.) ‘No, one can spend one’s life thus, unable to live, unable to bring to life, and die in vain, having done nothing, been nothing’ (Ibid., p.358.)

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The Unnamable (1958; Picador Edn., 1976): ‘That I am not stone deaf is shown by the sounds that reach me. For though the silence here is almost unbroken, it is not completely so. I remember the first sound heard in this place, I have often, heard it since. For I am obliged to assign a beginning to my residence here, if only for the sake of clarity. Hell itself, although eternal, dates from the revolt of Lucifer. It is therefore permissible, in the light of this distant analogy, to think of myself as being here forever, but not as having been here forever. This will greatly help me in my relation. Memory notably, which I did not think myself entitled to draw upon, will have its word to say, if necessary. This represents at least a thousand words I was not counting on. I may well be glad of them. So, after a long period of immaculate silence a feeble cry was heard, by me. I do not know if Malone heard it too. I was surprised, the word is not too strong. After so long a silence a little cry, stffied outright What kind-of creature uttered it and, if it is the same, still does, from time to time? Impossible to say. Not a human one in any case, there are no human creatures here, or if there are they have done with crying. Is Malone the culprit? Am I? Is it not perhaps a simple little fart, they can be rending? Deplorable mania, when something happens, to inquire what. If only I were not obliged to manifest. And why speak of a cry? Perhaps it is something breaking, some two things colliding. There are sounds here, from time to, time, let that suffice. This cry to begin with, since it was the first. And others, rather different. I am getting to know them. I do not know them all. A man may die at the age of seventy without ever having had the possibility of seeing Halley’s comet. / It would help me, since to me too I must attribute a beginning, if I could relate it to that of my abode. Did I wait somewhere for this place to be ready to receive me? Or did it wait for me to come and people it? By far the better of these hypotheses, from the point of view of usefulness, is the former, and I shall often have occasion [271] to fall back on it. But both are distasteful. I shall say therefore that our beginnings coincide, that this place was made for me, and I for it, at the same instant. And the sounds I do not et know have not yet mde themselves heard. But they will change nothing. The cry changed nothing, even the first time. and my surprise. I must have been expecting it.’ (pp.271-72.)

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The Unnamable (1958, Trilogy, Picador Edn., 1976): ‘[…] I’m doing my best, I repeat, I and this noise, on the subject of which, inverting the natural order, we would seem to know for certain, among other things, what follows, namely, on the one hand, with regard to the noise, that it has not been possible up to date to determine with certainty, or even approximately, what it is, in the way of noise, or how it comes to me, or by what organ its is emitted, or by what perceived, or by what intelligence apprehended, in its main drift, and on the other, that is to say with regard to me, this is going to take a little longer, with regard to me, nice time we’re going to have [357; Calder edn. p.392] now, with regard to me, that it has not yet been our good fortune to establish with any degree of accuracy what I am, where I am, whether I am words among words, or silence in the midst of silence, to recall only two of the hypotheses launched in this connection, though silence to tell the truth does not appear to have been very conspicuous up to now, but appearances may sometimes be deceptive. ( pp.357-58.)

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The Unnamable (1958, Trilogy, Picador Edn., 1976): ‘[…] it’s not I speaking, it’s [370] not I hearing, let us not go into that, let us go on as if I were the only one in the world, whereas I’m the only one absent from it, or with others, what difference does it make, others present, others absent, they are not obliged to make themselves manifest, all that is needed is to wander and let wander, be this slow boundless whirlwind and every particle of its dust, it’s impossible. Someone speaks, someone hears, no need to go any further, it is not he, it’s I, or another, or others, what does it matter, the case is clear, it is not he, he who I know I am, that’s all I know, who I cannot say I am, I can’t say anything, I’ve tried, I’m trying, he knows nothing, knows of nothing, neither what it is to speak, nor what it is to hear, to know nothing, to be capable of nothing, and to have to try, you don’t try any more, no need to try, it goes on by itself, it drags on by itself, from word to word, a labouring whirl, you are in it somewhere, everywhere, not he, if only I could forget him, have one second of this noise that carries me away, without having to say, I don’t, I haven’t time, It’s not I, I am he, after all, why not, why not say it, I must have said it, as well that as any thing else, it’s not I, not I, I can’t say it, it came like that, it comes like that, it’s not I, if only it could be about him, if only it could come about him, I’d deny him, with pleasure, if that could help, it’s I, here it’s I, speak to me of him, let me speak of him, that’s all I ask, I never asked for anything, make me speak of him, what a mess, now there is no one left, long may it last. In the end it comes to that, to the survival of that alone, then the words come back, someone says I, unbelieving. If only I could make an effort, an effort of attention, to try and discover what’s happening, what’s happening to me, what then, I don’t know, I’ve forgotten my apodosis, but I can’t I don’t hear any more, Im sleeping, they call that sleeping, there they are again, we’ll have to start killing them again, I hear this horrible noise, coming back takes time, I don’t know where from, I was nearly there, I was nearly sleeping, I call that sleeping, there is no one but me, there was never anyone but me, here I mean, elsewhere is another matter, I was never elsewhere, here is my only elsewhere, it’s I who do this thing and I who suffer it, it’s not possible otherwise, it’s not possible so, it’s not my fault, all I can say is that it’s not my fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, since there isn’t anyone it can’t be anyone’s fault, since there isn’t me but me it can’t be mine, sometimes you’d think I was was reasoning, I’ve no objection, they must have taught me reasoning too, they [370] must have begun teaching me, before they deserted me, I don’t remember that period, but it must have marked me, I don’t remember having been deserted, perhaps I received a shock. Strange, these phrases that die for no reason, strange, what’s strange about it, here all is strange, all is strange when you come to think about it, no, it’s coming to think of it that is strange, am I to suppose I am inhabited, I can’t suppose anything, I have to go on […]’ (pp.369-71.)

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The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Picador Edn. 1976): ‘[…] I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again, it will be I, or dream, dream again, dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs, I don’t know, that’s all words, never wake, all words, there’s nothing else, you must go on, that’s all I know, they’re going to stop, I know that well, I can feel it, they’re going to abandon me, it will be the silence, for a moment, a good few moments, or it will be mine, the lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts, it will be I, you must go on, I can’t go on, you must go on, I’ll go on, you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my own story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ (p.382; Calder Edn., p.418.)

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Waiting For Godot (1956; Faber Edns.), ESTRAGON: ‘Nothing to be done.’ (p.9.) Vladimir: ‘You’d be nothing more than a little heap of bones …’ (p.9.) ESTRAGON: ‘Nothing […] there’s nothing to show.’ (p.11.) VLADIMIR: ‘Nothing to be done.’ (p.11.) VLADIMIR: ‘Nothing is certain when you’re about.’ (p.14.) ESTRAGON: ‘Nothing to be done. Like to finish it [the carrot]?’ (p.21.) ESTRAGON: ‘Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!’ (p.41.) ACT II: ESTRAGON: ‘Yes, I remember, yesterday evening we spent blathering about nothing in particular. That’s been going on now for half a century.’ (p.66.) VLADIMIR: ‘All I know is that the hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them with proceedings which - how shal I say - which may at first sight seem reasonable, until they become a habit. You may say it is to prevent our reason from foundering. No doubt. But has it not long been straying in the night without end of the abyssal depths? That’s what I sometimes wonder. You follow my reasoning?’ (p.80.) VLADIMIR: ‘We wait. We are bored. No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste. Come, let’s get to work! In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness!’ (p.81.) POZZO: ‘Have you not done tormenting me with our accursed time? It’s abominable. When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day like any other day, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we’ll die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.’ (p.89.) VLADIMIR: ‘Was I sleeping, which the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He’ll know nothing [viz., Estragon] He’ll tell me about the blows he received and I’ll give him a carrot. Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave-digger puts [90] on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener. At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, he is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. I can’t go on! What have I said?’ (pp.90-91; Collected Dramatic Works, pp.84-85.)

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Waiting for Godot - LUCKY [soliloquy]: ‘Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell an suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but no so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labours left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry in Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labours of men that as a result of the labours unfinished of Testew and Cunard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labours of Fartov and Cunard left unfinished it is establied what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation is seen to waste and pine waste and pine and concurrently simultaneoulsy what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating skating tennis of all kinds of dying flying sports of all sorts of autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds of hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume and concurrently simultaneously for reasons unknown to shrink and dwindle in spite of the tennis I resume flying gliding golfing golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell to shrink and dwindle I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per caput since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per caput approximately and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labours lost Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold on sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull to shrink and waste and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labours abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard [final vociferations] tennis … the stones … so calm … Cunard … unfinished … . POZZO: His hat! […] Give me that! […] There’s an end to his thinking!’ (Faber, Complete Plays, pp.42-43.)

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Endgame (1957; Faber Edn. 1964 &c.): CLOV: ‘Finished, it must be finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished. (Pause). Grain upon gtrain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossibile heap. (Pause). I can’t be punished anymore. (Pause.) I’ll go now to my kitchen […] and wait for him to whistle me. (12.) HAMM: ‘Haven’t you had enough?’ CLOV: ‘Yes! (Pause.) Of what?’ HAMM: ‘Of this … this … thing.’ (p.13.) CLOV: ‘There are no more bicycle-wheels’ (p.15.) HAMM: ‘Outside of here it’s death.’ (p.15.) HAMM: ‘Accursed progenitor!’ (p.15.) HAMM: ‘Nature has forgotten us.’ CLOV: ‘No more nature!’ (p.16.) CLOV: ‘Something is taking its course’ (p.17, 26, 31.) HAMM: ‘There’s something dripping in my head’ (p.19.) NELL: ‘Nothing is funnier than unhappiness […] Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it’s always the same thing. Yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more. (Pause.) Have you anything else to say to me?’ (p.20.) [Tailor story, pp.21-22.] HAMM: ‘This is deadly.’ CLOV: ‘why this farce, day after day?’ (p.26.) HAMM: ‘Imagine if a rational being came back to earth, wouldn’t he be liable to get the idea into his head if he observed us long enough. (Voice of rational being.) Ah, good, now I see what it is, yes, now I understand what they’re at! […] To think perhaps it won’t all have been for nothing!’ (p.27.) HAMM: ‘Laying! lying you mean’ (p.27.) HAMM: ‘time for my painkiller?’ (p.28; cf. pp.16, 34.) HAMM: ‘I love the old questions. (With fervour.) Ah, the old questions […] there’s nothing like them’ (p.29.) CLOV: ‘a rare thing not to have been bonny - once!’ (p.31.) HAMM: ‘Yesterday! What does that mean? Yesterday!’ CLOV: ‘That means that bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don’t mean anything anymore, teach me others. Or let me be silent.’ (p.32.) HAMM: ‘Do you not think this has gone on long enough?’ CLOV: ‘Yes! (Pause.) What?’ HAMM: ‘This … this … thing.’ (p.33; see p.13, supra.) HAMM [long speech]: ‘[…] Use your head, can’t you, use your head, you’re on earth, there’s no cure for that!’ (p.37; cf. 44.) ‘whining for bread for his brat’ (p.40.) HAMM: ‘Did you ever have an instant of happiness?’ CLOV: ‘Not to my knowledge’ (p.42.) HAMM: ‘Absent always. It all happened without me. I don‘ ’t know what’s happened. (Pause.) Do you know what‘’s happened?’ (p.47.) CLOV: ‘There’s one thing I’ll never understand .. why I always obey you. Can you explain that to me.’ HAMM: ‘No … Perhaps it’s compassion. (Pause.) A kind of great compassion. […]’ (p.48.) HAMM: ‘An aside, ape! Did you never hear an aside before? (Pause.) I’m warming up for my last soliloquy’ (p.49.) HAMM: ‘It’s the end, Clov, we’ve come to the end’ (p.50.) CLOV: ‘I say to myself - sometimes, Clov, you must suffer better than that if you want them to weary of punishing you - one day. I say to myself - sometimes, Clov, you must be there better than that if you want them to let you go - one day. But I feel too old, and too far, to form new habits. Good, it’ll never end, I’ll never go. (Pause.) Then one day, suddenly, it ends, it changes, I don’t understand, it dies, or it’s me. […]’ (p.51.) HAMM: ‘I am obliged to you, Clov, for your services.’ Clov (turning sharply): ‘Ah, pardon, it’s I am obliged to you.’ HAMM: ‘Its we who are obliged to each other.’ (p.51.) HAMM: ‘[…] Old endgame lost of old, play and loose and have done with losing. […]’ (p.51) . [See full text in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, attached.]

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All That Fall: A Text for Radio (1957) [set at Boghill station, with Mrs Maddy Rooney and Dan Rooney. Jerry, others]: MRS ROONEY, ‘Heavens, there is that up mail again, what wil become of me. (The dragging steps resume […] ) Oh I am just a hysterical old hag I know, destroyed with sorrow and pining and gentility and church-going and fat and rheumatism and childlessness. (Pause. Brokenly …) Minnie! Little Minnie! (Pause.) Love, that is all I asked, a little love, daily, twice daily, fifty years of twice daily love like a Paris horse-butcher’s regular, what normal woman wants affection? A peck on the jaw at morning, near the ear, and another at evening, peck, peck, till you grown whiskers on you. There is that lovely laburnum again.’ (p.9.) [Cont.]

All That Fall (1957) cont.: MRS ROONEY, ‘No, no, I am agog, tell me all, then we shall press on, and never pause, never pause, till we come safe to haven’. MR. ROONEY, ‘Never pause […] safe to haven […] Do you know, Maddy, sometimes one would think you were struggling with a dead language’. MRS ROONEY, ‘Yes, indeed, Dan, I know full well what you mean, I often have the feeling, it is unspeakably excruciating.’ MR ROONEY, ‘I confess I have it sometimes myself, when I happen to overhear what I am saying.’ Mrs Rooney’, ‘Well you know, it will be dead in time, just like our own poor dead Gaelic, there is that to be said.’ (Urgent baa.) MR ROONEY (startled), ‘Good God!’ MRS ROONEY, ‘Oh, the pretty little woolly lamb, crying to suck its mother! Theirs has not changed, since Arcady.’ (p.35.) [Cont.]

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All That Fall (1957) - cont.: MRS. ROONEY [recounting the psychiatrist’s lecture] recalls ‘one of those mind doctors, I forget what you call them [whom she visited in the hope he would shed light on her] ‘lifelong preoccupations with horses’s buttocks’ [and remembers] his telling us the story of a little girl, very strange and unhappy in her ways, and how he treated her unsuccessfully over a period of years and was finally obliged to give up the case. He could find nothing wrong with her, he said. The only thing wrong with her as far as he could see was that she was dying. And she did in fact die shortly after he had washed his hands of her.’ […] it was just something he said, and the way he said it, that have haunted me ever since […]When he had done with the little girl he stood there motionless for some time, quite, quite two minutes, I should say, looking down at his table. Then he suddenly raised his head and explained, as if he had had a revelation, ‘The trouble with her was that she had never been really born!’ [q.p.; quoted in Anthony Cronin, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist, 1996, p.221.)

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Krapp’s Last Tape (1959): ‘I asked her to look at me and after a few moments […] after a few moments she did. […] We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down, sighing, before the stem! […] I lay down across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, genlty, up and down, and from side to side.’ (Krapp’s Last Tape, Faber edn., p.18.) [Cont.]

Krapp’s Last Tape (1959) - cont.: ‘Spiritually a year of profound gloom and indigence until that memorable night in March, at the end of the jetty, when suddenly I saw the whole thing. The vision at last. This I fancy is what I have chiefly to record this evening, against the day when my work will be done and perhaps no place left in my memory, warm or cold, for that miracle [hesitates] for the fire that set it alight. […] What I suddenly saw then was this, that the belief I had been going on all my life, namely [Krapp switches off impatiently, winds tape forward, switches on again] - great granite rocks the foam flying up in the light of the lighthouse and the windgauge spinning like a propeller, clear to me that the dark I have always struggled to keep under is in reality my most [Krapp curses, switches off …] (Faber [sep. edn], p.15; Complete Dramatic Works, p.220; quoted in part in Pattie, op. cit., 2000, p.29.) [Cont.]

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Krapp’s Last Tape (1959) - cont.: ‘[…] I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going on and she agreed, without opening her eyes. [Pause.] I asked her to look at me and after a few moments - [Pause.] After a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent over to get them in the shadow and they opened. [Pause. Low.] Let me in. [Pause.] We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down, sighing, before the stem! [Pause. ] I lay down across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.’ [Pause. Krapp’s lips move. No sound.] (Ibid ., p.223; quoted in David Pattie, op. cit., 2000, p.79.)

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Happy Days (1962): Winnie, ‘Ah yes, so little to say, so little to do, and the fear so great, certain days, of finding oneself […] left, with hours still to run, before the bell for sleep, and nothing more to say, nothing more to do, that the days go by, certain days go by, quite by, the bell goes, and little or nothing said, little or nothing done.’ (Happy Days, p.27); ‘Yes, something seems to have occurred, something has seemed to occur, and nothing has occurred, nothing at all, you are quite right, Willie.’ (Happy Days, in Collected Plays, 154; all supplied by Alicia Guinn, EN310, UUC 1998.)

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Imagine Dead Imagine (1966) [Opening]: ‘No trace anywhere of life, you say, pah no difficulty there, imagination not dead yet, yes, dead, imagination dead imagine. Islands, waters, azure, verdure, one glimpse and vanished, endlessly, omit. Till all white in the whiteness the rotunda. No way in, go in, measure. Diameter, three feet, three feet from ground to summit of the vault. Two diameters at right angles AB CD divide the white ground into two semicircles ACB BDA. Lying on the ground two white bodies, each in its semi-circle. White too the vault and the round wall eighteen inches high from which it springs. Go back out, a plain rotunda, all white in the whiteness, go back in, rap, solid throughout, a ring as in the imagination the ring of bone. (Collected Shorter Prose, NY: Grove Press, p.182; quoted in Pattie, op. cit., 2000, p.85.)

Imagine Dead Imagine (1966) [Ending]: ‘[…] Leave them there, sweating and icy, there is better elsewhere. No, life ends, and no, there is nthing elsewhere, and no question now o ever finding again that white speck lost in whiteness, to see if they still lie still in the stress of that storm, or of a worse storm, or in the black dark for good, or the great whiteness unchanging, or if not what they are doing.’ (Ibid., p.185; Pattie, op. cit., p.86.)

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The Calmative” (1970): ‘But it’s to me this evening that something has to happen, to my old body as in myth and metamorphosis, this old body to which nothing ever happened, or so little, which never met with anything, loved anything, wished for anything, in its tarnished universe, except for the mirrors to shatter, the plan, the curved, the magnifying, the minifying, and to vanish in the havoc of its images.’ (Collected Shorter Prose, NY: Grove Press 1984 p.63; quoted in Pattie, op. cit., 2000, p.65.)

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Not I (1972) - MOUTH: ... out ... into this world ... this world ... tiny little thing ... before its time ... in a godfor ... what? ... girl? ... yes ... tiny little girl ... into this ... out into this ... before her time ... godforsaken hole called ... called ... no matter ... parents unknown ... unheard of ... he having vanished ... thin air ... no sooner buttoned up his breeches ... she similarly ... eight months later ... almost to the tick ... so no love ... spared that ... no love such as normally vented on the ... speechless infant ... in the home ... no ... nor indeed for that matter any of any kind ... no love of any kind ... at any subsequent stage ... so typical affair ... nothing of any note till coming up to sixty when ... what? ... seventy? ... good God! ... coming up to seventy ... wandering in a field ... looking aimlessly for cowslips ... to make a ball ... a few steps then stop ... stare into space ... then on ... a few more ... stop and stare again ... so on ... drifting around ... when suddenly ... gradually ... all went out ... all that early April morning light ... and she found herself in the ... what? ... who? ... no! ... she! ... (pause and movement 1) ... found herself in the dark ... and if not exactly ... insentient ... insentient ... for she could still hear the buzzing ... so-called ... in the ears ... and a ray of light came and went ... came and went ... such as the moon might cast ... drifting ... in and out of cloud ... but so dulled ... feeling ... feeling so dulled ... she did not know ... what position she was in ... imagine! ... what position she was in! ... whether standing ... or sitting ... but the brain ... what? ... kneeling? ... yes ... whether standing ... or sitting ... or kneeling but the brain ... what? ... lying? ... yes ... whether standing ... or sitting ... or kneeling ... or lying ... but the brain still ... still. . in a way ... for her first thought was ... oh long after ... sudden flash brought up as she had been to believe ... with the other waifs ... in a merciful ... (brief laugh) ... God ... (good laugh) [...]’ (Cont.)

Cf. - The Unnamable (1958; Trilogy, Picador Edn. 1976): ‘[…] it’s not I speaking, it’s [370] not I hearing, let us not go into that, let us go on as if I were the only one in the world, whereas I’m the only one absent from it, or with others, what difference does it make, [...] it is not he, it’s I, or another, or others, what does it matter, the case is clear, it is not he, he who I know I am, that’s all I know, who I cannot say I am, I can’t say anything [...] It’s not I, I am he, after all, why not, why not say it, I must have said it, as well that as any thing else, it’s not I, not I, I can’t say it, it came like that, it comes like that, it’s not I, if only it could be about him, [...]’. (pp.370-71; see longer extract, supra.)

Not I (1972) - cont.: ‘how she had lived ... lived on and on ... guilty or not ... on and on ... to be sixty ... something she what? ... seventy? ... good God! ... on and on to be seventy ... something she didn’t know herself ... wouldn’t know if she heard ... then forgiven ... God is love ... tender mercies ... new every morning ... back in the field ... April morning, ... face in the grass ... nothing but the larks ... pick it up there ... get on with it from there ... another few ... what? ... not that? ... nothing to do with that? ... nothing she could tell? ... all right ... nothing she could tell try something else ... think of something else ... oh long after . . sudden flash ... not that either ... all right ... something else again ... so on hit on it in the end ... think everything keep on long enough then forgiven ... back in the ... what? ... not that either nothing to do with that either? ... nothing she could think? all right ... nothing she could tell ... nothing she could think nothing she ... what? ... who? ... no! ... she! ... (pause and movement 4) ... tiny little thing ... out before its time ... godforsaken hole ... no love ... spared that ... speechless all her days ... practically speechless ... even to herself ... never out loud ... but not completely ... sometimes sudden urge ... once or twice a year ... always winter some strange reason ... the long evenings ... hours of darkness ... sudden urge to ... tell ... then rush out stop the first she saw ... nearest lavatory ... start pouring it out ... steady stream ... mad stuff ... half the vowels wrong ... no one could follow ... till she saw the stare she was getting ... then die of shame ... crawl back in ... once or twice a year ... always winter some strange reason ... long hours of darkness ... now this ... this ... quicker and quicker ... the words ... the brain ... flickering away like mad ... quick grab and on ... nothing there ... on somewhere else ... try somewhere else ... all the time something begging ... something in her begging ... begging it all to stop ... unanswered ... prayer unanswered ... or unheard ... too faint ... so on ... keep on ... trying ... not knowing what ... what she was trying ... what to try ... whole body like gone ... just the mouth ... like maddened ... so on ... keep ... what? ... the buzzing? ... yes ... all the time the buzzing ... dull roar like falls ... in the skull ... and the beam ... poking around ... painless ... so far ... ha! ... so far ... all that ... keep on ... not knowing what ... what she was ... what? ... who? ... no! ... she! ... SHE! ... (pause) ... what she was trying ... what to try ... no matter ... keep on ... (curtain starts down) ... hit on it in the end ... then back ... God is love ... tender mercies ... new every morning ... back in the field ... April morning ... face in the grass ... nothing but the larks ... pick it up ... ’ [End.]

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Company (1980): ‘You are an old man plodding along a narrow country road. You have been out since break of day and now it is evening. Sole sound in the silence your footfalls. Rather sole sounds for they vary from one to the next. You listen to each one and add it in your mind to the growing sum of those that went before. You halt with bowed head on the verge of the ditch and convert into yards. On the basis now of two steps per yard. So many since dawn to add to yesterday’s. To yesteryear’s. To yesteryears’. Days other than today and so akin. The giant tot in miles. In leagues. How often round the earth already. Halted too at your elbow during these computations your father’s shade. In his old tramping rags. Finally on side by side from nought anew.’ (Q.p.; quoted in Tim Parks, ‘Still stirring’, review of Samuel Beckett: The Grove Centenary Edition, ed. Paul Auster, and other works, in The New York Review of Books, 13 July 2006; (For Park’s comments, see full-text version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Major Authors > Samuel Beckett”, via index, or direct.)

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Ill Seen Ill Said (1981): ‘Imagination at its wits end spreading its sad wings.’ (p.65.) ‘She is there. Again […] AT break or close of day. Without the curtain’s being opened. Suddenly open. A flash. The suddenness of it all! (ibid., p.66.) ‘confusion amounting to nothing. If only she could be pure figment. Unalloyed. This old so dying woman. So dead. In the madhouse of the skull and nowhere else.’ (ibid., p.67.) ‘How simple all then. If only all could be pure figment. Neither be nor been nor by any shift to be.’ (idem.) ‘The eye […] slowly […] emerges […] up to lose itself in the gloom. The semigloom. It is evening. The buttonhook glimmers in the last rays. The pallet scarce to be seen.’ (p.68.) ‘Wooed from below the face consents at last. In the dim light reflected by the flag. Calm slab worn and polished by agelong comings and goings. Livid pallor. Not a wrinkle. How serene it seems this ancient mask. Worthy [?of] those worn by certainly newly dead. The lids occult the long-for eyes. Time will tell them washen blue. When tears perhaps not for nothing. Unimaginable tears of old.’ (p.72.) ‘Skipping the nose at the call of the lips these no sooner broacher are withdrawn. […] At dawn an empty place. With no means of knowing whether she has gone in or under cover of darkness her ways again.’ (ibid., p.73.) ‘heaping […] which if it persists will gain the skies. The moon. Venus. [The Soul] seems turned to stone [the inner eye flares with] radiant haze [and melts the consciousness] into paradise.’ (ibid., 73.) ‘Nothing for it but to close the eye for good and see her […] Close it for good this filthy eye of flesh […] (ibid., p.74.) ‘Such bits and scraps. Seen no matter how and said as seen. Dread of black. Of white. Of void. Let her vanish […] For good […] And the moon. And Venus […] (ibid., p.75.) ‘Nothing but black and white […] Void. Nothing else. Contemplate that. Not another word. Home at last. Gently, gently.’ (idem.) ‘Nothing now for the staring eye but the chair in its solitude.’ (p.79.) ‘The silence merges into music infinitely far and as unbroken as silence.’ (p.83.) ‘scrawled by the ages for the eye to solicit in vain (p.85.) ‘better inside in for the pathos of the dangling arms (p.87.) ‘This same smile established with eyes open is with them closed no longer the same (p.89.) ‘Well on the way to inexistence. As to zero the infinite.’ (p.93.) ‘In the black heart. The mock brain (p.93.) ‘Forthwith with the common uncommon noun collapsion.’ (p.93).

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The Expelled [1946] (publ. 1984): ‘They were most correct, according to their god. They could have kept this hat, but it was not theirs, it was mine, so they gave it back to me. But the spell was broken.’ (The Expelled and Other Novellas, Penguin, 1980, p.34.) ‘My father said to me. Come son, we are going to buy your hat, as though it had pre-existed from time immemorial in a pre-established place. He went straight to the hat. I personally had no say in the matter, nor had the hatter.’ (p.34.) ‘I had done them no harm (p.35.) ‘The very idea of changing my trousers, or of confiding in mother, who goodness knows asked nothing better than to help me, was unbearable […] (p.38.) ‘Whence this wary way of walking, with legs stiff and wide apart, and this desperate rolling of the bust, no doubt intended to put people off the scent, to make them think I was full of gaiety and high spirits […] (p.38.) ‘I became sour and mistrustful, a little before my time, in love with hiding and the prone position.’ (p.38.) ‘No need for caution. We may reason on to our heart’s content, the fog won’t lift.’ (p.38.) ‘I you can’t bloody well get about like everyone else […] you’d do better to stay at home.’ (p.38.) ‘There was a great flurry of hats and at the same time a flutter of countless fingers […] he seemed crucified all of a heap, no dignity, his knees under his chin and his hands anyhow.’ (p.39.) ‘the absolute impossibility of purchase […] compels you to bestir yourself (p.40.) ‘It was not so dark now in the stable, I could make out the manger, the rack, the harness hanging […] (p.46.) ‘I don’t know why I told this story […] Perhaps some other time I’ll be able to tell another. Living souls, you will see how alike they are.’ (p.47).

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Stirrings Still (1988) [First para.]: ‘One night as he sat at his table he saw himself rise and go. One night or day. For when his own light went out he was not left in the dark. Light of a kind came then from the one high window. Under it the stool on which till he could or would no more he used to mount to see the sky. Why he did not crane out to see what lay beneath was perhaps because the window was not made to open or because he could or would not open it. Perhaps he know only too well what lay beneath and did not wish to see it again. So he would simply stand there high above the earth and see through the clouded pane the cloudless sky. It [was] faint and unchanging light unlike any light be could remember from the days and nights when day followed hard on night and night on day. This outer light then when his own went out became his only light till in its turn went out and left him in the dark. Till it in its turn went out.’ (rep. in As the Story was Told, London: John Calder, 1990, pp.113-28; featured in Manchester Guardian at the death of Beckett.)
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