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Brian Richardson (University of Maryland)
Narration in the fiction of Samuel Beckett tends to revolve around two antithetical poles, both of which work to negate the basic epistemological drama of multiple narrators with differing perceptions that animates most of the work of major modernists like James, Joyce, Broch, Faulkner, and Woolf. The first pole is solipsistic, as seemingly disparate narrative voices turn out in the end to be mere projections of a single isolated consciousness. Company (1980) is exemplary in this regard: it begins with the statement, “A voice comes to one in the dark” (7); much of rest of the text is an investigation of the nature, status, and identity of that voice. In the end, it turns out that “huddled thus you find yourself imagining you are not alone while knowing full well that nothing has occurred to make this possible” (61); the voice is not that of another, there is no one else . Such a failed attempt to generate “company” also appears in Malone Dies, “Cascando,” “Not I,”and other texts, narrative and dramatic, which follow the trajectory described in The Unnamable: “I am of course alone. . . . I shall have company. In the beginning. A few puppets. Then I’ll scatter them, to the winds, if I can” (292).
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