Sunday, March 24, 2013

"One must shout, murmur, exult, madly, until one can find the no doubt calm language of the no..."

This is the end of a letter Samuel Beckett wrote to Georges Duthuit on August 2, 1948, collected in The Letters of Samuel Beckett, 1941-1956 (translated from the French by George Craig):
The mistake, the weakness at any rate, is perhaps to want to know what one is talking about. In defining literature, to one's satisfaction, even brief, where is the gain, even brief? Armour, all that stuff, for a loathsome combat. I think I know what you are going through, forced back into judgements, even if merely suggested, every month, at any rate regularly, pulled out with greater and greater difficulty according to hateful criteria. It is impossible. One must shout, murmur, exult, madly, until one can find the no doubt calm language of the no, unqualified, or as little qualified as possible. One must, no that is all there is, apparently, for some of us, this mad little tally-ho sound, and then perhaps the shedding of at least a good part of what we thought we had that was best, or most real, at the cost of what efforts. And perhaps the immense simplicity of part at least of the little feared that we are and have. But I'm starting to write. It has just struck midnight. Until tomorrow.

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