Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reading Beckett

In the Review section of Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Ian Brown ruminates on reading the collected works of Samuel Beckett:

This is why reading Beckett, as funny and brilliant and insightful as he often is, is always exhausting: he fundamentally disagrees with what you’re doing, and wants to make you stop. Again and again he lures us into a game he then reveals to be pointless and stupid. After a while, it gets on your nerves. Enough Sam, you want to say: if you despise words that much, you could have gone into human resources.


And yet, and yet, as Rushdie says: All you have to do is submit, and the words take you away. It’s the paradox of Beckett, maybe even his flaw, that the writing of the man who said writing is meaningless (and then set out to make it so) should be so compelling and so often beautiful. “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” are the last words of The Unnamable, but it might as well be the motto of everyone who tries to read it.

To read the rest of Brown’s article on his Beckett immersion, click here.

1 comment:

Booklad said...

Beckett's saving grace is his sense of humor. Some people miss this part of his work and this makes it hard for this kind of reader to enjoy Beckett's writing. I don't think Beckett would have cared since he wrote mostly for himself. Also, many readers come to Beckett with pre-concieved notions of what he is trying to do and say with his writing. If you read his works closely, he is really an inspiring author because he says that in spite of a meaningless world, we still go on.

I've been listening to the great recording of E.G. Marshall and Bert Lahr doing "Waiting for Godot" recently and I'm struck by how hard they try to take care of each other. How tender they are, at times, to one another. I don't think this play was written by a cynic.

Remember at the end of the novel "Watt"? "I can't go on. I'll go on".