Laura Santini (Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy)
A critical approach to Samuel Beckett’s short prose
In the beckettian canon the short prose writing is a backstage activity, often considered as purely marginal. Yet this marginality can be rethought in a positive sense and in this enquiry genetic criticism and the speech act theory play a crucial role.
In the manuscripts the margins help Beckett create his work and his figure of author in each specific text. On the margin his “ecriture” changes becoming clearer and rounder. Furthermore, though marginally, it was in 1965, (when Imagination morte imaginez and Assez were written), that Beckett was more busy than ever playing the role of director (in Germany with Derek Mendel and in London with Jack MacGowran), of playwright (writing the dramaticule Come and Go and translating it in French), of narrator (he completed Imagination morte imaginez and translated it), of translator (completed the French version of his TV-piece Eh Joe) – not to mentioned his writing and translating Assez and starting off with Le Dépeupleur.
Often written first in French and later on translated into English, Beckett’s short proses are works rarely frequented or analised for their own. Moreover, till the 1990s, it is possibile to observe a so to speak cutting line in Beckett criticism, which splitted it into two halves: on one side the anglo-reader, who considered Beckett’s works only in the English tongue, on the other those who took into account the beckettian writings only in French.
Beckett’s short proses need to be read aloud. They attest Beckett’s search for a new and anabused tongue – both in English and in French; his pushing to the limits grammar, style and genre rules; they present Beckett’s aiming at a rebirth of the oral text; a text which is also urged through a complete redefinition of its own value; a text which emerges from the flatness of the white page to live into the aural experience.
These narratives maintain the intimacy of manuscripts where la langue est mise en fonctionnement, and yet they give rise to a sort of expectation for la mise en espace.