on 22 March 1998
Essential for anyone interested in 20th century prose. Complements the holes in language the novels & plays sought to expose. Beckett knew everything there is to know about form. These shorts move between poetry and prose. See especially the series "First Love", "The Expelled", "The Calmative", "The End"- the bridge from Watt to Molloy. The blackened page of Beckett's paragraph-less mummur is not for everyone, but once you hear his rhythm, it is not easily forgotten.
on 14 October 1997
--When my life-routine is in decay only Samuel Beckett can suffice. While the poorest of Beckett's prose offer only that sunken cold-in-the-stomach feeling of literary indigestion (this may after all be the intended effect), the better segments deliver a richer vein of orchestral inflection, a chalk-and-charcoal tone-poetry of sorts, a lush groggy cipher-state dreaming with angst. The 1946 sequence of nouvelles that are the blessing of this collection ("First Love" "The Expelled" "The Calmative" "The End") are especially vital to this reader, which is to say that they reread the best.
--As one progresses through this volume, from the Joycean exuberance of "Assumption" and "Sedendo et Quiescendo", to the ashen zero-time of "Texts for Nothing" and "All Strange Away", to the bleached naked endurance of "Lessness" and "Stirrings Still", Beckett's narration seems to sink further and further into the mud, a breaking down of readerly expectation into a prose-world as dark as what it conceals.
--I recommend this anthology to patient readers in search of their own zero-hour, and as a startling companion-piece to the major novels and plays.
on 6 December 1998
The Unnameable explains himself as aporetic [being unable to act] and ephectic [being unable to make a decision]. From 1929, in "Che Sciagura", to 1989 Beckett's prose becomes more and more aporetic. From "Lessness" in 1970 to Ill Seen Ill Said in 1981 to Worstword Ho in 1983, aporia dominates the prose style and the thematic content. All of Beckett's tiny, bizarre stories - "Imagination Dead Imagine" [one paragraph], "The Lost Ones", "Enough", "Ping", Fizzles [eight one-paragraph stories] - they all contain catatonic characters, paralyzed by mental ambivalence. See The Insanity of Samuel Beckett's Art on Amazon.com.