Samuel Beckett does not need any introduction! He is a very popular figure among those who know the literature in a little depth. Reaching to Beckett will surely take a journey through the absurd streets of writing where words make no meaning at all or their meaning is simply beyond the general comprehension. While Beckett’s drama is before us all, not many people are interested in his novels. How many of us actually have read his works in the novel genre? Well, I did not, to be honest! Do his novels, the question arises, make any sense at all, to the common readers?
There were many novels written by Samuel Beckett and many of them are rather popular otherwise. I will be writing brief commentaries on his novels that I have finished reading recently and then you can decide whether to read him or indulge your time something rather straightforward and simple to be understood.
How It Is – 1964 (English)
This novel by Samuel Beckett is a clumsy tale of the narrator who is taking a journey (compelled?) in the mud amidst the darkness and alone. We are not even sure what this character is but as this creature finds some other creature whose name is Pim, we can be sure there must be human beings in the form of these two creatures. The novel is divided into three parts – Before Pim, With Pim and After Pim. There are no punctuation marks used in the novel throughout and it adds a question mark before the readers. Some important extracts from the novel are following:
“one perhaps there is one perhaps somewhere merciful enough to shelter such frolics where no one ever abandons
anyone and no one ever waits for anyone and never two bodies touch” after Pim, page 143, Grove Press Edition
“no the wish to be less wretched a little less the wish for a little beauty no when the panting stops I hear nothing of
the kind that’s not how I’m told this time” before Pim, page 12, same edition
“my head same movement it encounters his it’s as I thought but I may be mistaken with the result it draws back again and launches right the expected shock ensues that clinches it I’m the taller” with Pim, page 37, same edition
Can you make something out of these lines without any brakes or beginning? Well, if you wish to boggle your head a little, you can always buy the novel by Beckett and give it a try! Here is the link to it:
Beckett’s How It Is on Amazon – Buy Now
The Unnamable – 1958
This is also a novel by Beckett which does not let the readers move; nor the characters (are there really some characters in this novel?). The protagonist or the narrator – whatever you may say – is a person who does not move. There are monologues, unnecessary to add that these are monotonous and meaningless for the reading which is just ordinary and to extract pleasure from the perusal. You will need a strict attention to be paid to your reading or you are just getting to get your head blown away into myriad pieces!
“But, as I have said, the place may well be vast, as it may well measure twelve feet in diameter. It comes to the same thing, as far as discerning its limits is concerned. I like to think I occupy the centre, but nothing is less certain. In a sense I would be better off at the circumference, since my eyes are always fixed in the same direction. But I am certainly not at the circumference. For if I were it would follow that Malone, wheeling about me as he does, would issue from the enceinte at every revolution, which is manifestly impossible.”
Just to the relief of the readers, there are punctuation marks in the novel which make it a little reader-friendly. And rest, the story of reading is same – no light for the readers! Once again, if you are somehow interested in reading this work, there is the book for you on Amazon; go get it and start reading! You can get a pack of three novels by him at only Rs 586 (INR) from Amazon! The link will open in new tab:
Buy The Unnamable from Amazon now
Dream of Fair to Middling Women – 1992
Though written way before in 1932 when Beckett was young and infamous, the novel has been published only after his death in the year 1992. This is somewhat readable with a little space for the readers. There are characters in the novel who are noticeable human beings and they will appeal to the readers, for sure. You may find the text inspired so much by the real events if you know well about Beckett’s own life. And yes, you will also encounter the usual cobweb that Beckett weaves with his thought-shaking lines in this fiction:
“The fact of the matter is we do not quite know where we are in this story.”
You can read this novel by getting a copy from Amazon from the link shared below:
Dream of Fair to Middling Women on Amazon
These are some of the Beckett’s novels which are read by me recently and believe me, I was left with my hand scratching my head most of the times! Hell of a writer Beckett was!
by Alok Mishra