Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Where now? Who now? When now?": A correction

In the first of my three Beckett-themed posts from yesterday, I wrote something that should be corrected. Of the great prose trilogy—Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable—I wrote that they "read much like what they pretend to be—first-person accounts, as if a diary or journal". This description is misleading at best. Though they are indeed in the first-person, I don't know that it's acceptable to refer to them even as accounts, and they certainly are not anything like diaries or journals. In the first half of Molloy, our man is in a room, doesn't seem to know how he got there, what's happened to him, but he unfolds a narrative which may or may not have something to do with his current predicament. We are told that a strange man ("He's a queer one the one who comes to see me.") comes and takes what he has written. The second half, we are told, is the report of a man who was assigned the task of locating Molloy. In Malone Dies, again there is a voice in a room, relating various things, facts, narratives, impressions, and so on ("I shall soon be quite dead at last in spite of it all."), but to whom? And finally, The Unnamable, we're never even sure who is writing or speaking. Is he the writer of the other narratives? Has he created Molloy and Malone and the others? ("All these Murphys, Molloys and Malones do not fool me. They have made me waste my time, suffer for nothing, speak of them when, in order to stop speaking, I should have spoken of me.") Is he a voice in the void? Speaking to whom? For what reason?

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