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Friday, 5 November 2010

Samuel Beckett: A Love Story


Ralston Crawford - Factory Roofs - 1934 - The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Factory Roofs: Ralston Crawford, c. 1934 (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.)

They love each other, marry (in order to love each other better, more conveniently). He goes to the wars, he dies at the wars. She weeps (with emotion) at having loved him, at having lost him. (Yep!) Marries again (in order to love again, more conveniently again). They love each other. (You love as many times as necessary - as necessary in order to be happy.) He come back (the other comes back) from the wars: he didn't die at the wars after all. She goes to the station, to meet him. He dies in the train (of emotion) at the thought of seeing her again, having her again. She weeps (weeps again, with emotion again) at having lost him again. (Yep!) Goes back to the house. He's dead - the other is dead. The mother-in-law takes him down: he hanged himself (with emotion) at the thought of losing her. She weeps (weeps louder) at having loved him, at having lost him.

There's a story for you! That was to teach me the nature of emotion (that's called emotion): what emotion can do (given favourable conditions), what love can do. (Well well! So that's emotion! That's love!) And trains, the nature of trains. And the meaning of your back to the engine, and guards, stations, platforms, wars, love, heart-rending cries. (That must be the mother-in-law: her cries rend the heart as she takes down her son. Or her son-in-law? I don't know. It must be her son, since she cries.) And the door? The house-door is bolted: when she got back from the station she found the house-door bolted. Who bolted it? He the better to hang himself? Or the mother-in-law the better to take him down? Or to prevent her daughter-in-law from re-entering the premises? There's a story for you! (It must be the daughter-in-law: it isn't the son-in-law and the daughter, it's the daughter-in-law and the son. How I reason to be sure this evening!) It was to teach me how to reason, it was to tempt me to go, to the place where you can come to an end.

I must have been a good pupil up to a point (I couldn't get beyond a certain point). I can understand their annoyance, this evening I begin to understand. (Oh there's no danger: it's not I, it wasn't I.)

The door, it's the door interests me (a wooden door). Who bolted the door, and for what purpose? I'll never know.

Factory Roofs: Ralston Crawford, c. 1934 (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.)

Samuel Beckett: from The Unnamable, 1959


Carmenisacat said...

Should I read Beckett?

This I have always wondered.

TC said...

The work haunts the mind, and the sharp dark humour matches the times.

The rhythms are those of a particular poetry. A great genius and source of endless pleasure, to me.

Some small bits, for now:

Samuel Beckett: Apodosis

Samuel Beckett: Aporia

Samuel Beckett: Nothing

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

While reading this I was very struck by the humor and felt guilty, came then to the comments only to see you have already pointed the way, Tom.

Sometimes it is so hard facing Beckett's blinding light.


TC said...


The blinding light of genius is also the blinding light of laughter.

My wife and I have been through all manner of physical difficulty of late, from major surgery to house demolition to pneumonia, so it has not exactly been the circus... but sitting here and looking at this post together, in the dark hours before dawn, we were both howling with laughter until tears came to the eyes.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

I am sorry for all the troubles but this is laughter with which we are truly, truly blessed.

I think of two things ... no, 3 things, we are blessed with: laughter, dancing, and music, all of which, ironically, require not a word.

Hope the house was at least salvageable ... and that you folks are on the way to some relief and recovery.

TC said...


Yes, so lovely, the best things, not a word.

The first time Beckett's words saved me with brilliant laughter came during the Cuban missile crisis, when the several and various campus soapbox orators, right and left (T. Hayden) were discussing the imminent end of the world as though it were a foregone conclusion... and I crept off to my backstreet boarding house (Ann Arbor) to read Watt.

The great wild play of the mind and joy of the language, in that one.

SarahA said...

I laughed and yet felt sad inside; then laughed again. A great writer to be able to do such to the reader; with words they have written.

Thomas, it's raining here.Great grey tears falling from the skies and I'm trapped inside waiting to die! No not really. You knew I was teasing; right?

TC said...


I understand the angels wear water wings in your part of the world?

(And of course they are laughing and dancing all the while they are making the clouds weep.)

SarahA said...

You know, I orginally wrote 'water wings' and then changed her to 'with water in their wings', because I kept getting the image of Angels swimming around, with those bright orange arm band (which we here, call 'water wings').

Are you smiling?

TC said...

I did just then, despite myself.

(Smile, that is.)

It felt a bit odd, but rather nice.

SarahA said...