Watt Paperback – 1 Jun 1970
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If you like challenging, thought-provoking, surrealist/absurdist literature then give it a go.
Sam, who writes in the first person of his relationship with Watt, narrates the second half of the novel. Because Sam's subjective view isn't constrained by the obligations of the supposed all-knowing omniscient narrator, he can more effectively convey that the experience of being is unknowable and unnamable. He admits to the inefficiency of his communication with Watt because it is burdened by the hindrance of their environment and their physical inadequacy. A first person narration is limited by its partial point of view of reality, but it is this limited viewpoint that Beckett seems to be trying to convey. For all of Sam's studious attention and examination of Watt, we are left just as baffled as to who he is as the characters observing Watt at the beginning of the novel, but at least it is a view more conscious of its subjectivity than the omniscient narrator could provide. In the first half of the novel we were given descriptions of the fallibility of logic and in the second half we are given a direct account of the ways in which each solution obtained only generates multiple objections. The first person narrative¡¯s direct account thus points to a conscious subjectivity that deletes the assumptions made in omniscient narration that this view of reality is a true representation of what it actually is. However, it becomes apparent in the narrative that the fallibility of reason reveals itself to be not limited to a complication caused by the point of view in telling, but in the nature of the written language used to tell. He develops this point well in his subsequent fiction, but Watt is a fascinating look at how these different narrative perspectives work and is a rich, comic novel to read.