"The teller and the tale: Narrating the narrator in Samuel Beckett's Cendres, Pas moi and Pas" in Aspects of Twentieth Century Theatre in French, edited by Michael Cardy and Derek Connon, Peter Lang, 2000, pp. 113-128

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    Abstract

    This study looks at three plays by Samuel Beckett - Cendres, Pas moi and Pas - to illustrate how his dramatic characters frequently become narrators. in particular, these protagonists and story-tellers often narrate tales that are ostensibly detached from the main "action" but, in fact, are commentaries on and reflections of the narrator himself. Thus, in Cendres, we have the story of Henry, Ada and Addie and Henry's anguish concerning his disappeared father but Henry's tale of Bolton and Holloway actually relates very closely to his own experience of loss, alienation and desire fror release from existential anguish. Again, in Pas moi the speaker Bouche pours out a torrent of words expressing a sense of existential pain but insists that this is not autobiographical and rather relates to some third party in the form of "she". For the audience this is a transparent evasion of self-confrontation through the illusion of narrative about someone else and in Pas a similar phenomenon occurs concerning May. This tortured female somnambulist seems locked in a cycle of pacing and thinking, "revolving it all" in her tormented mind but her story of Amy and Mrs Winter near the end of the play is, in fact, a reformulation of her own predicament. For Beckett narration becomes drama and how this is reflected in these three plays helps one come to terms with patterns in his theatre as a whole.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAspects of Twentieth Century Theatre in French
    PublisherPeter Lang
    Pages113-128
    ISBN (Print)3-906764-45-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: S Beckett La Dernière bande suivi de Cendres, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1959

    S Beckett Oh les beaux jours suivi de Pas moi, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1963-1974

    S Beckett Pas, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1978

    'Eugène Ionesco: The Joke's On Us', BBC Arena, 1989

    Kristin Morrison Canters and Chronicles: The Use of Narrative in the Plays of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1983

    Ruby Cohn Just Play: Beckett's Theatre, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1980

    Shimon Levy Samuel Beckett's Self-Referential Drama: The three I's, Macmillan, Basingstoke and London, 1990

    Paul Lawley 'Embers: an interpretation' in S E Gontarski The Beckett Studies Reader, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 1993

    Robin J Davis and Lance St-J Butler (eds.) 'Make Sense Who May' - Essays on Samuel Beckett's Later Work, Colin Smythe, Gerrards Cross, 1989

    James Knowlson Damned to Fame: The Life of Samule Beckett, Bloomsbury, London, 1996

    Katherine Kelly 'The Orphic mouth in Not I' in S E Gontarski The Beckett Studies Reader, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 1993

    John Osborne Look Back in Anger, Faber and Faber, 1989

    Keywords

    • narrator
    • narration
    • telling
    • tale
    • drama
    • self

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