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The self obscure : the influence of Dante on Beckett Cavell, Anthony Richard 1974

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THE SELF OBSCURE. THE INFLUENCE OF DANTE ON BECKETT RICHARD ANTHONY CAVELL B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1971 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the req u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1974 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8 , C a n a d a D e p a r t m e n t i ABSTRACT Beckett has c o n t i n u a l l y a l l u d e d to Dante throughout h i s c a reer. This t h e s i s t r a c e s the extent of the i n f l u e n c e of Dante on Beckett, and i n t e r p r e t s Beckett i n the l i g h t of that i n f l u e n c e . Dante f i g u r e s i n B e c k e t t ^ two major c r i t i c a l works, "Dante... Bruno. V i c o . . Joyce" and Proust. In the essay on Joyce Beckett gives h i s own d e f i n i t i o n s of the three post-mortal s t a t e s . I n the essay on Proust, Beckett defines the a r t i s t i c process as a descent toward the essence. The e a r l y f i c t i o n and poetry i s d i s t i n c t from the l a t e r works i n t h a t the a l l u s i o n s to Dante are more frequent and more obvious. The a n t i - h e r o of More P r i c k s than K i c k s i s Belacqua Shuah. Belacqua*s eponym appears i n the Ante-purgatory (Purg. 4) where he i s p i c t u r e d r e l i v i n g h i s l i f e before ascending t o the scourges of the Mountain. Belacqua's f o e t a l s t a t e , c a l l e d the "Belacqua b l i s s " i n Murphy, i s the s t a t e t o which a l l of Beckett's characters a s p i r e , from Shuah to the lone searcher i n The Lost Ones. Beckett uses the Commedia as an i r o n i c frame of r e f e r -ence i n Watt, as he does i n Three Novels» Molloy i s i n f e r n a l , Malone Dies p u r g a t o r i a l and The Unnamable p a r a d i s a l . The Commedia i s a l s o used i n v e r s e l y , t o i n d i c a t e the regress i n t o h e l l , f o r each of the four n a r r a t i v e s i n Three Novels r e p r e -sents the same s t o r y t o l d a t f o u r d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of a b s t r a c -t i o n . These l e v e l s correspond to the f o u r a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l s i i o n w h i c h D a n t e s a i d h i s p o e m c o u l d b e i n t e r p r e t e d . I n B e c k e t t ' s w o r k , h o w e v e r , t h e r e i s n o u l t i m a t e l e v e l o f a b s t r a c t i o n , a n d e a c h w o r d h i s n a r r a t o r s s p e a k r e m o v e s t h e m f u r t h e r f r o m t h e e s s e n t i a l n o t h i n g n e s s t h e y w i s h t o e x p r e s s . I n t h e t r i l o g y B e c k e t t ' s m a j o r d e b t t o D a n t e i s t o t h e t h i r d c a n t o o f t h e I n f e r n o , e s p e c i a l l y t h a t s e c t i o n w h i c h d e s c r i b e s t h o s e i n t h e V e s t i b u l e o f h e l l . D a n t e s h o w s t h e s e s i n n e r s a s h a v i n g n e v e r l i v e d , a n d t h e r e f o r e w i t h o u t h o p e o f d e a t h . D a n t e p l a c e s t h e m o n t h e t h r e s h o l d o f j u d g e m e n t , a s a r e B e c k e t t ' s c h a r a c t e r s , w h o a l l w a i t t o b e j u d g e d . T h e e s s e n c e o f d a m n a t i o n i n B e c k e t t ' s c o s m o s i s t h a t t h e r e i s n o d a m n a t i o n . G o d o t a n d E n d g a m e a r e n o t o v e r t l y D a n t e s q u e . T h e a l l u s i o n s t o D a n t e i n t h e f o r m e r s u g g e s t a n a n c i e n t o r d e r w h i c h n o l o n g e r o b t a i n s , y e t w h i c h s t i l l g o v e r n s t h e t r a m p s ' l i v e s . H o w I t I s i s t h e m o s t o b v i o u s l y D a n t e s q u e o f B e c k e t t ' s w o r k s , a s t h e a l l u s i o n s t o t h e m u d o f t h e t h i r d a n d f o u r t h c i r c l e s o f I n f e r n o i n d i c a t e * l i f e i s h e l l . T h e L o s t O n e s i s a l s o o b v i o u s l y D a n t e s q u e . T h e r u b b e r c y l i n d e r i s a m e t a p h o r f o r t h e w o r k o f a r t , t h e o n l y v a l u e o f w h i c h i s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y i t h o l d s o f t r a n s c e n d e n c e . I r o n i c a l l y , t h e l o s t o n e s c a n n o t g o b e y o n d i t . T h i s t h e s i s c o n c l u d e s t h a t t h e a l l u s i o n s t o B e l a c q u a i n d i c a t e a s h i f t i n a t t i t u d e , f r o m o n e w h i c h a d m i t t e d h o p e t o o n e o f d e s p a i r . I n a w o r l d w i t h o u t t h e L o g o s , t h e a l l e -g o r i s t ( f o r s u c h i s t h e t r a d i t i o n i n w h i c h B e c k e t t w r i t e s ) i i i can achieve only confusion. His only hope i s that by w r i -t i n g c o n t i n u a l l y he can a b s t r a c t h i s being t o i t s e s s e n t i a l nothingness. Because Beckett's a r t responds to the t r a d i -t i o n epitomized by the Commedia, and because he has con-t i n u a l l y invoked Dante as h i s standard, the study of Beck-e t t i n terms of Dante provides the c l e a r e s t view of h i s a r t . iv CONTENTS BECKETT ON DANTE I . C r i t i c i s m j "Dante... Bruno. V i c o . . Joyce," Proust, and the "Review of P a p i n i ' s Dante." ..... 1 EARLY FICTION AND POETRY I I . More P r i c k s Than K i c k s 15 I I I . Poems i n E n g l i s h 38 IV. Murphy 49 V. Watt 54 THREE NOVELS: FOUR LEVELS VI. Moran 66 V I I . Molloy 81 V I I I . Malone 93 IX. Unnamable 108 DRAMA X. Waiting f o r Godot 122 XII Endgame 126 V LATER FICTION X I I . How I t Is 129 X I I I . The Lost Ones 135 DANTE ON BECKETT XIV. Conclusion 139 B i b l i o g r a p h y 144 or f u s i f a t t a l a sembianza v o s t r a ? Dante, Paradiso 3 1 scraps of an ancient voice i n me not mine Beckett, How I t Is PREFACE The comparison of Dante and Beckett d e r i v e s i t s g r e a t e s t a u t h o r i t y from Beckett h i m s e l f , who has c o n s t a n t l y a l l u d e d to Dante throughout h i s career. Could we not t r a c e a d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e , the comparison would s t i l l be v a l i d — even n e c e s s a r y — f o r the w r i t e r s are mutually informing; w h i l e each works w i t h i n a d i f f e r e n t cosmos, both consider s i m i l a r a r t i s t i c and metaphysical questions. Recognizing that "the danger i s i n the neatness of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n s " 1 I do not propose th a t Beckett can be viewed only w i t h i n a Dantesque framework, but I do main-t a i n t h a t Beckett c o n s i s t e n t l y uses the Commedia as a framework—most o f t e n i r o n i c — f o r h i s own works. Ul t i m a t e -l y , however, one can only w r i t e of Dante and Beckett "per a p p r o v a r l a , non per t e r m i n a r l a . " T r a n s l a t i o n s are my own, unless s t a t e d otherwise. I n my t r a n s l a t i o n s of passages from the Commedia, I have attempted to convey the l i t e r a l sense using modern d i c t i o n . I n some quoted m a t e r i a l , I have changed an upper case to a lower, or v i c e - v e r s a , without so i n d i c a t i n g . References to Beckett's works are t o the Grove paperback e d i t i o n s , where a v a i l a b l e . References to l a D i v i n a Commedia are to the standard three volume e d i t i o n e d i t e d by N a t a l i n o Sapegno 1 Beckett, "Dante...Bruno. . Y i c o . . Joyce," i n Our  Exagmination Round His F a c t i f i c a t i o n f o r Incaminati on of  Work i n Progress (Londont Faber and Faber, 1 9 2 9 )» p» 3« CHAPTER I CRITICISM. "DANTE... BRUNO. VICO.. JOYCE," PROUST, AND THE "REVIEW OF PAPINI'S DANTE." Whether the a r t i s t , l i k e Dante, w r i t e s of the ab-s o l u t e l y meaningful, or l i k e Beckett, of the a b s o l u t e l y meaningless, he must s t i l l attempt to express t h a t which cannot be expressed. Beckett has defined h i s own task a c c o r d i n g l y * there i s nothing to express, nothing w i t h which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no d e s i r e to express, together w i t h the o b l i g a t i o n to e x p r e s s . 2 For both Dante and Beckett, R e a l i t y — w h a t e v e r they i n d i -v i d u a l l y conceive i t to b e — c a n n o t be expressed by words alone, f o r words l i m i t what i s l i m i t l e s s . The g r e atest d i f f e r e n c e between the two w r i t e r s under c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s not i n t h e i r a r t i s t i c g o a l s , nor even i n t h e i r s u b j e c t matter; the d i f f e r e n c e l i e s i n the cosmos i n which each w r i t e s . For Dante, the cosmos was the c r e a t i o n and expression o f God, and man was i n t r i n s i c -a l l y a p a r t of t h a t c r e a t i o n . Since i t was God*s plan t h a t each man who chooses to should know Him through His works, He made the world i n t e l l i g i b l e t o " i l ben d e l l * i n t e l l e t t o " ( I n f . 3 . 1 8 ) ["the good of the i n t e l l e c t " ] . 2 Beckett, Three Dialogues (London. John Calder, 1 9 6 5 ) , P. 1 0 3 . 2 For i n knowing God, man would know hi m s e l f , f o r h i s r e -t u r n t o the Godhead would be a completion of the s e l f . Dante maintains t h a t i n God i s found the p e r f e c t i o n of the p e r s o n a l i t y . Since God was "l'amor che move i l s o l e e l ' a l t r e s t e l l e " (Para. 33.145) ["the love t h a t moves the sun and the other s t a r s " ] , a l l t h i n g s i n the universe i n moving toward Him moved toward love and goodness. Be-cause God had created l i f e , i t was ordered and j u s t . Man was given the " l i b e r o a r b i t r i o " (Purga. 16.71) ["free w i l l " ] t o choose e i t h e r t o obey or t o disobey God's laws. Dante's v i s i t oltretomba examined the r e s u l t s of t h a t c h o i c e . Beckett's cosmos i s the a n t i t h e s i s of Dante's. The core of that a n t i t h e s i s i s the doubt surrounding the existence of God, and the word "doubt" must be emphasized. To say t h a t God i s dead i n Beckett's cosmos i s s i m p l i s t i c . This would be a s t a t e of comparative s e c u r i t y , a s t a t e t h a t c o u l d be understood, a s t a t e t h a t had a f i r s t p r i n c i p l e . In Beckett's cosmos, God i s not dead f o r c e r t a i n , nor a l i v e f o r c e r t a i n , and His c r e a t i o n s — i f indeed they are H i s — m i r r o r t h a t i n c e r t i t u d e . The one c e r t a i n t y i s the a r t i s t ' s o b l i g a t i o n to express, to s t a t e . Since h i s own existence i s u n c e r t a i n , by v i r t u e of the u n c e r t a i n t y of God's e x i s t -ence, he must express t h a t which he does not, cannot, know. Whereas Dante overcame the a r t i s t i c dilemma through f a i t h , Beckett has nothing i n which to place h i s f a i t h . The 3 a r t i s t has nothing to work w i t h , and he i s o b l i g e d to express t h a t n o t h i n g . Beckett's p o r t r a i t of man i s a p o r t r a i t of nothing, a p o r t r a i t of the s e l f obscure. Yet, because he has only words on h i s p a l e t t e , he i s for c e d to paint something, so tha t even the "nothing than which . • . 3 nought i s more r e a l " i s i t s e l f a semblance. Beckett's c r i t i c i s m , a l l w r i t t e n e a r l y i n h i s career, occupies i t s e l f w i t h the a r t i s t ' s problems t what t o express and how t o express i t . That Beckett b e l i e v e d Dante's a r t i s t i c e n t e r p r i s e bore d i r e c t l y upon h i s own study of the problems i s a t t e s t e d to by Dante's presence i n the essays on Joyce and on Proust. I n "Dante... Bruno. 4 V i c o . . Joyce" Beckett draws a p a r a l l e l between Dante and Joyce the s t r e n g t h of which derives mostly from Beckett's enthusiasm f o r h i s mentor. I n f a c t , Dante i s inc l u d e d i n the essay not s o l e l y on the b a s i s of h i s relevance to Joyce. What the essay does show i s t h a t Dante informs Bruno and V i c o as much, i f not more, than Joyce. Giordano Bruno was d i r e c t l y i n f l u e n c e d by Dante's p h i l o s o p h i c a l love poetry, h i s mysticism, and by the De Monarchia; he was 3 Beckett, Murphy, 2nd ed. (1938; r p t . New York. Grove Press, Inc., 1957)> P« 246. h Beckett, "Dante... Bruno. V i c o . . Joyce," i n Our  Exagmination Round His F a c t i f i c a t i o n f o r Incamination of  Work i n Progress (Londont Faber and Faber, 1929)• Subse-quent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the t e x t . 4 i n d i r e c t l y i n f l u e n c e d by Dante through M a r s i l i o F i c i n o ' s w r i t i n g s . G i a m b a t t i s t a V i c o i s more p e r t i n e n t to our study i n that he urged the study of language as a means of h i s t o r i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n . His i n t e r e s t i n language i s expressed i n an essay he wrote on Dantej he s t a t e d there that i t was a misconception to b e l i e v e that Dante gathered together the speech of a l l the v a r i o u s I t a l i a n d i a l e c t s t o create the language of the Commedia. Beckett discusses t h i s p o i n t s p e c i f i c a l l y . From the De V u l g a r i E l o q u e n t i a he quotes the passage i n which Dante, speaking of the Tuscan d i a l e c t , s t a t e s t i f we e x a m i n e t h e T u s c a n d i a l e c t s , r e f l e c t i n g how t h e w r i t e r s commended a b o v e [ G u i d o , L a p o , C i n o Q h a v e d e v i a t e d f r o m t h e i r own d i a l e c t , i t d o e s n o t r e m a i n d o u b t f u l t h a t t h e v e r n a c u l a r we a r e i n s e a r c h o f i s d i f f e r e n t f r o m t h a t w h i c h t h e p e o p l e o f T u s c a n y a t t a i n t o . 6 Beckett proceeds to s t a t e t h a t Dante's c o n c l u s i o n i s t h a t "he who would w r i t e i n the v u l g a r must assemble the purest elements from each d i a l e c t and c o n s t r u c t a s y n t h e t i c language" (18). Which, Beckett s t a t e s , " i s p r e c i s e l y what he [Dante] d i d . . . . He wrote a vulgar t h a t could J See Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the  Hermetic T r a d i t i o n (New Yorkj Vintage Books, I 9 6 9 ) • Aldo T a g l i a f e r r i , i n Beckett e 1'iperdeterminazione  l e t t e r a r i a (Milano: F e l t r i n e l l i , 196?), t r a c e s Bruno's i n f l u e n c e throughout Beckett's canon. ^DDante, "De V u l g a r i E l o q u e n t i a , " i n A T r a n s l a t i o n of  the L a t i n Works, t r a n s . A. G. F. Howell and P. H. Wicksteed TLondon. J« M. Dent, 1904), p. 44. 5 have been spoken by an i d e a l I t a l i a n who had a s s i m i l a t e d what was best i n a l l the d i a l e c t s of h i s country." I t i s odd t h a t a t t h i s p o i n t Beckett does not t u r n to Vico's "Discoverta d e l vero Dante," i n which he s t a t e s t i t i s s t i l l commonly supposed t h a t Dante gathered together the speech of a l l the v a r i o u s I t a l i a n d i a l e c t s . Which f a l s e n o t i o n must have taken r o o t i n the s i x t e e n t h century. . . • Such a n o t i o n about Dante i s f a l s e f o r two s e r i o u s reasons. F i r s t , F l o r e n c e , even i n h i s times, must have shared the g r e a t e r part of her speech forms w i t h a l l the other c i t i e s of I t a l y i otherwise, the I t a l i a n tongue would not have had anything i n ; : common w i t h t h a t of F l o r e n c e . And second, s i n c e the other c i t i e s i n those unhappy times possessed no w r i t e r s of the v u l g a r tongue • . • Dante's whole l i f e would not have s u f f i c e d to l e a r n the v u l g a r speech of so many communities and t o get from them t h a t abundance of forms he needed and employed to express h i s thought i n the comedy.' Had Beckett subscribed to Vico's o p i n i o n , the r e l a t i o n -s h i p which he had s e t out to e s t a b l i s h between Joyce and Dante, t h a t the language i n which they wrote was not spoken by t h e i r contemporaries but was a s y n t h e t i c language, would have been weakened. However, t h i s i m p l i c i t weakness i n no way a f f e c t s the v a l i d i t y of the a p p l i c a t i o n of Vico and Bruno to Joyce, which forms the body of Beckett's essay. The essay begins w i t h the wry humour t y p i c a l of the young Beckett. He i d e n t i f i e s the p h i l o s o p h i e s of Bruno ' V i c o , "Discovery of the True Dante,V i n Discussions of the D i v i n e Comedy, ed. and t r a n s . Irma Brandeis (fiostont D. c"T"Heath, 1961), p. 11. 6 and V i c o , comparing the l a t t e r ' s i d e a of "a L i b e r t y t h a t i s not chance" w i t h "Dante's 'yoke of l i b e r t y ' " ( 7 ) . This r e f e r s to a passage i n Dante's " S i x t h E p i s t l e , " i n which he addresses the F l o r e n t i n e s who r e s i s t the emperori "For ye f i r s t and alone, shunning the yoke of l i b e r t y , have murmured a g a i n s t the g l o r y of the Roman p r i n c e , the g k i n g of the world and the m i n i s t e r of God." The paradox of a freedom t h a t r e q u i r e s submission plays a s u b s t a n t i a l r o l e i n Beckett's l a t e r f i c t i o n . From h i s d i s c u s s i o n of V i c o , Beckett moves to a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of Joyce, making the statements t h a t i n Joyce, "form i s content, content i s form . . . » His w r i t i n g i s not about something; i t i s t h a t something  i t s e l f " (14). To exemplify h i s i d e a and to i n d i c a t e the t r a d i t i o n i n which Joyce w r i t e s , he quotes from Joyce and compares those quotations w i t h two of Dante's rime, "Donne ch'avete i n t e l l e t t o d'amore" ( V i t a Nuova, 19) ["Ladies who have understanding of l o v e " ] and "Voi che, intendendo, i l t e r z o c i e l movete" (Convivio 2 . 1 ) ["You who, by i n t e l -l e c t i o n , move the t h i r d heaven"]. Both of these poems are i n e f f e c t poems on poetry. In the f i r s t , Dante searches f o r the words which w i l l best describe h i s l o v e , the poem Q Dante, " E p i s t o l a V I , " i n A T r a n s l a t i o n , op. c i t . , para. 2 , p. 317* L. E. Harvey, Tn Samuel Beckett t Poet  and C r i t i c (New Jersey* P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 7 0 ) , p. 3 1 2 , mistakenly c i t e s De Monarchia, Bk. I I , ch. 1 , as the source. being the record of that search; i n the second, Dante i m p l i c i t l y i l l u s t r a t e s the r e l a t i o n s h i p of form and content, concluding t h a t i f one cannot understand the content-of h i s poem, a t l e a s t one can admire the beauty of the form. Beckett then decrees t h a t "to j u s t i f y our t i t l e , we must move North, *Sovra ' 1 b e l fiume d*Arno a l i a gran v i l l a * " (17) ['Above the b e a u t i f u l Arno r i v e r i n the great c i j b y * ] . The quot a t i o n , from I n f . 23» i s Dante's r e p l y t o the Hypocrites, who had asked him where he was from. Beckett s t a t e s t h a t "there e x i s t s considerable c i r c u m s t a n t i a l s i m i l a r i t y " (17) between Dante and Joyce. The s i m i l a r i t i e s a l l u d e d to comprise the two w r i t e r s * a t t i t u d e s toward language. I t i s a t t h i s p o i n t t h a t Beckett quotes the passage from De V u l g a r i E l o q u e n t i a which has already been discussed. He then makes asse r -t i o n s , by no means o r i g i n a l , about Dante's p u b l i c . The c i t a t i o n of Boccaccio r e f e r s to t h a t w r i t e r ' s L i f e of 9 Dante; there Boccaccio r e l a t e s the dream of Dante's mother i n which she saw her son e a t i n g the b e r r i e s of a l a u r e l t r e e , and changing suddenly i n t o a peacock. I n i n t e r p r e t i n g t h i s dream Boccaccio c i t e s one of the peacock* 9 Boccaccio, " L i f e of Dante," i n The E a r l i e s t L i v e s  of Dante, t r a n s . J . R. Smith, (New Yorki F r e d e r i c k Ungar, 1 9 6 3 7 T P . 77. V 8 a t t r i b u t e s as " p i e d i s o z z i " (19) ["smelly f e e t " ] and says t h a t t h i s s i g n i f i e s the v u l g a r tongue on which the Commedia (peacock) stands. Quoting from the Convivio, Beckett damns the "mono-d i a l e c t i c a l a r c a d i a n s " $19) and p r a i s e s Joyce. R e f e r r i n g to the former, he quotes i Such are to be regarded as sheep and not men; f o r i f one sheep were t o f l i n g i t s e l f over a p r e c i p i c e of a thousand paces a l l the others would go a f t e r i t ; and i f one sheep leap f o r any reason as i t pass* es a s t r e e t a l l the others l e a p , although they see nothing to leap over. And ere now I myself have seen one a f t e r another leap i n t o a w e l l because one l e a p t i n t o i t ( t h i n k i n g , I suppose, t h a t i t was l e a p i n g over a wall) . 1 0 R e f e r r i n g to Joyce, Beckett quotes i This s h a l l be the new l i g h t , the new sun, which s h a l l r i s e when the wonted sun s h a l l s e t and s h a l l give l i g h t to them who are i n darkness and i n shadow as t o the wonted sun, which shines not f o r them.11 A b r i e f d i s c u s s i o n ensues concerning Dante's belief' 1''' t h a t language was created by God a t the same time as man. Beckett f a i l s to poin t out, however, th a t Dante had changed h i s o p i n i o n by the time he wrote the Paradiso, where he acknowledged t h a t language was a product of human reason (Para. 26.124-32) and t h e r e f o r e subject to decay. Dante, The Convivio of Dante, t r a n s . P. H. Wick-steed (London«> J . M. Dent, 1 9 0 3 ) , 1 . 2 , pp. 4 9 2 5 0 . 1 1 I b i d . , 1 . 1 3 . pp. 5 9 ^ 6 0 . Dante i s speaking of the vu l g a r tongue. 12 Stated i n De V u l g a r i E l o q u e n t i a , 6 , p. 16 of Howell and Wicksteed t r a n s l a t i o n . The end of the essay i s the most important f o r our purposes. Beckett compares Dante's purgatory w i t h Joyce's s t a t i n g t h a t Dante's " i m p l i e s c u l m i n a t i o n " (21) whereas Joyce's "excludes c u l m i n a t i o n . " He then asks r h e t o r i c -a l l y , i n what sense, then, i s Mr. Joyce's work purga-t o r i a l ? I n the absolute absence of the Absolute. H e l l i s the s t a t i c l i f e l e s s n e s s of u n r e l i e v e d v i c i o u s n e s s . Paradise the s t a t i c l i f e l e s s n e s s of u n r e l i e v e d immaculation. Purgatory a f l o o d of movement and v i t a l i t y r e l e a s e d by the c o n j u n c t i o n of these two elements. (22) For Beckett, H e l l and Paradise are absolute i n t h a t they are f i x e d s t a t e s . Purgatory, however, i s a s t a t e which i s e v e n t u a l l y transcended, except i n Joyce's cosmos. Joyce's purgatory i s such because i t i s n e i t h e r H e l l nor Paradise. E s p e c i a l l y noteworthy i n Beckett's d e s c r i p t i o n of the three post-mortal s t a t e s i s h i s contention t h a t "immaculation" should r e q u i r e r e l i e f , a theme which he explores i n h i s l a t e r f i c t i o n . "Unrelieved immaculation" perhaps best describes Beckett's i n t e n t i o n s i n t h i s h i s f i r s t work of c r i t i -cism. What i s most noteworthy i n t h i s s hort essay on Joyce i s t h a t Beckett manages to a l l u d e to every one of Dante's works w i t h a p r e c i s i o n t h a t marks h i s great f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h Dante's works. In c o n t r a s t to the a f f i n i t y Beckett evinces f o r h i s subj e c t i n the Joyce essay, h i s tone i s a l o o f i n h i s other major c r i t i c a l work, Proust. Beckett begins by c l i n i c a l l y examining "that double-headed monster of damnation and s a l v a t i o n — T i m e . " 1 3 Each day modifies us; we are not today who we were yesterday, a s s e r t s Beckett. "We are not merely more weary because of yesterday, we are other, no longer what we were before the calamity of yesterday" (3 This i s one head of the monster, damnation. Before examining the other head, Beckett views the body, Habit. Habit i s our way of t r y i n g t o adapt to our ever changing concept of s e l f . Yet adaptation i s not attainment» How absurd i s our dream of a Paradise w i t h r e t e n -t i o n of p e r s o n a l i t y , s i n c e our l i f e i s a success s i o n of Paradises s u c c e s s i v e l y denied, t h a t the only t r u e Paradise i s the Paradise t h a t has been l o s t , and th a t death w i l l cure many of the d e s i r e f o r i m m o r t a l i t y . (14) Then on to the other headt S a l v a t i o n . For Memory, although bound to time, i s i n i t s i n v o l u n t a r y manifesta-t i o n the one way i n which time can be overcome. Time thus i n i t i a t e s the damning process of attempting t o a t t a i n a s e l f t h a t i s ever changing, and provides the only means by which t h a t e l u s i v e s e l f can be revealed t o us. ^ Beckett, Proust (New Yo r k i Grove Press, I nc., 1931)* P« 1» Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the t e x t . 1 1 A f t e r d e a l i n g w i t h these main c o n s t i t u e n t s of the Pr o u s t i a n world, Beckett continues, d i s c u s s i n g other elements, among them Love. "Love he [ P r o u s t ] i n s i s t s , can only c o e x i s t w i t h a s t a t e of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n " ( 3 9 ) • Beckett describes the h e l l created by Love i n Proust's world as a "Tolomea" ( 4 0 ) , the penultimate r e g i o n of the Inferno, where the r e s i d e n t s have the great p r i v i l e g e of having t h e i r souls f r o z e n i n Cocytus w h i l e t h e i r bodies s t i l l l i v e on e a r t h ( I n f . 3 3 . 9 1 - 1 5 7 ) . "But i f l o v e , f o r Proust, i s a f u n c t i o n of man's sadness, f r i e n d s h i p i s a f u n c t i o n of h i s cowardice" says Beckett, and continues t "For the a r t i s t , who does not d e a l i n s u r f a c e s , the r e j e c t i o n of f r i e n d s h i p i s not only reasonable, but a n e c e s s i t y " ( 4 6 ) . Beckett goes on to describe h i s a r t i s t i c credo i n Dantesque terms: "the only f e r t i l e research i s excavatory, immersive, a c o n t r a c t i o n of the s p i r i t , a descent" ( 4 8 ) . A r t i s necessary, f o r i n i t alone i s the inner meaning deciphered; i t alone tenders "at l e a s t an i n c o r r u p t i b l e beauty: 'Ponete mente almen com'io son b e l l a ' " ( 5 7 ) • The l i n e i s the l a s t i n Dante's 14 canzone "Voi che, intendendo, i l t e r z o c i e l movete." In t h i s canzone, Dante sorrows over the g r i e f which the t h i r d heaven—Venus—has caused him. In the t o r n a t a , 14 C o n v i v i o , 2 . 1 . Quoted a l s o i n "Dante... Bruno. V i c o . . Joyce;" see above, p. 6 . 12 he exhorts h i s canzone t o say to those who cannot under-stand i t s inner workings, "At l e a s t consider how b e a u t i f u l I am." Beckett again quotes from Dante i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n of "time made f l e s h " (57) > which i s death. He r e f e r s to those penitents who occupy the co r n i c e of the proud i n the Pur g a t o r i o : e qual p i u pazienza av,ea n e l l i a t t i , piangendo parea d i c e r i *Piu non posso.* (Purg. 1 0 . 1 3 8 - 9 ) [and he who showed the most endurance seemed to cry out: *I can endure no more.'] This b r i l l i a n t a l l u s i o n conveys the p a r a d o x i c a l i t y of T i m e — d e s t r u c t i o n and c r e a t i o n , damnation and s a l v a t i o n , death and r e s u r r e c t i o n — t h r o u g h i t s r a m i f i c a t i o n s . For the Proud are bowed down by huge stones on t h e i r backs, but because they are bowed they can see the magnificent s c u l p t u r e s hewn i n t o the very f l o o r of the co r n i c e on which they t r e a d . C a s t i g a t i n g those a r t i s t s who are " p r o s t r a t e before the epidermis" (59) Beckett p r a i s e s the P r o u s t i a n pro-cedure, which i s "that of A p o l l o f l a y i n g Marsyas," the procedure followed by Dante: 0 buon Ap p o l l o , a l l ' u l t i m o l a v o r o fammi d e l tuo v a l o r s i f a t t o vaso, come dimandi a dar l'amato a l l o r o . 13 Entra. n e l petto mio, e s p i r a tue s i come quando Marsia t r a e s t i d e l l a vagina delle membra sue. (Par. 1.13-15. 19-21) [ 0 great Apollo, to t h i s ultimate task ins p i r e me with your v i r t u e , making me a vessel worthy to win the beloved l a u r e l . • . • Enter into my breast and breathe there as when you drew out Marsyas from the sheathe of his body.] Whereas i n the previous two cantiche Dante had invoked the Muses, here he invokes Apollo, the s p i r i t of poetry i t s e l f , so much greater i s his task. Dante suggests that his instrument, language, i s as i n s u f f i c i e n t to carry out his task as was Marsyas* instrument, the f l u t e , i n his 15 competition with Apollo. Apollo's lesson to Dante was that the mind must be pulled free from the body; Proust*s lesson to Beckett i s that the essence must be pulled free of the facade. In the same paragraph Beckett discusses a possible f a i l i n g of Dante. "Dante, i f he can ever be s a i d to have f a i l e d , f a i l s with his purely a l l e g o r i c a l figures . . . whose sign i f i c a n c e i s purely conventional and e x t r i n s i c " 16 (60). These figures represent concepts, and the poet ^ I am indebted to Prof. M. Chiarenza f o r drawing to my attention the si g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s passage i n Dante. ^ Compare Croce, La Poesia d i Dante (1921), i n which he states, " * l n poetry, allegory never has a place.*" Quoted i n Letteratura d e l l ' I t a l i a Unita. 1861-1968,(Fi-renze: Sansoni, 1968), p. 472. Compare also J . L. Borges, "From Allegories to Novels," Other Inquisitions (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966), pp. 163-166. 14 "does not deal i n concepts, he pursues the Idea, the concrete." Thus Dante, who was an a r t i s t above a l l , "could not prevent his allegory from becoming heated and e l e c t r i f i e d into anagogy." Thus Proust, and thus Beckett. One has the impres-sion that Dante would smile s l i g h t l y at the terms i n Proust, so f a m i l i a r to him, with which Beckett lards his t r e a t i s e and with which he ends his credo i damnation and salvation. The l a s t words which Beckett wrote d i r e c t l y on Dante appear i n his 1934 review of the English t r a n s l a t i o n of 1 7 Giovanni Papini's Dante Vivo. The review j u s t l y c a s t i -gates Papini, who writes of Dante the man to the exclusion of Dante the poet. Beckett, t y p i c a l l y , i d e n t i f i e s with Dante the a r t i s t . He states that he wants to read Dante, not to love him, and concludes by wryly c i t i n g Dante's own reference to the "incompatibility" (the irony i s Beckett's) of reading and loving, i n the Paolo and Fran-cesca episode of Inferno 5» "Quel giomo piu non v i l e g -gemmo avante" ["That day we read no more"]. 17 "Review of Papini's Dante," The Bookman, 87 (1934), p. 14. CHAPTER II MORE PRICKS THAN KICKS The c o n f l i c t between l i v i n g and reading which Paolo and Francesca experienced, wryly commented upon by Beckett i n the Papini review, i s echoed i n the ten s t o r i e s c o l l e c -18 t i v e l y c a l l e d More Pricks than Kicks. The t i t l e , which i s i n one sense an i r o n i c comment on the many i n -stances of desire as opposed to the occasions f o r f u l -19 filment, alludes to Inferno 9 . In that canto, Dante and V i r g i l are barred by a s o r t i e of devils from entering the c i t y of Dis. An angel comes to t h e i r assistance, saying to the d e v i l s : Perche r e c a l c i t r a t e a quella v o g l i a a cui non puote i l f i n mai esser mozzo, e che piu volte v*ha cresciuta d o g l i a / (Inf. 9 . 9 ^ - 6 ) [Why do you kick against the pricks to which no one has ever been able to put an end and which have increased your pains many times?] The passage indicates another sense i n which the t i t l e may be taken. We are pricked by an unreasoning fate, both before and a f t e r death, f a r more than we can kick. 18 Beckett, More Pricks than Kicks ( 1934; r p t . New York: Grove Press, Inc., 19727^ Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 19 The B i b l i c a l source i s Acts 9 . 5 ( c f . 26.14). Dante also quotes t h i s passage i n his " F i f t h E p i s t l e . " 16 As Christopher Ricks observes, Dante i s i n t h i s aspect "the supreme incarnation of the high-minded vengeance that pursues even beyond the grave and that w i l l not 20 permit of o b l i v i o n . " More Pricks than Kicks chronicles the dying of B e l -acqua Shuah. Belacqua's eponym appears i n the fourth eanto of the Purgatorio, and would be noteworthy i f for no other reason than that he e l i c i t s Dante's f i r s t smile i n the Commedia. The importance of Dante's Belacqua to Beckett's canon i s immense. Belacqua i s the main charac-ter i n these s t o r i e s ; his condition represents an i d e a l state i n Murphy and i n the t r i l o g y . Beckett explores the implications of Belacqua further i n How I t Is, and alludes to him i n his l a t e s t work of prose f i c t i o n , The Lost Ones. It i s important, therefore, that we ascertain the exact nature of Dante's Belacqua by analyzing the passage i n which he appears. Canto four opens with Dante and V i r g i l climbing up a narrow c l e f t i n the mountain i n order to ascend to the second terrace, where the Late Repentant are to be found. The ascent i s arduous, and the two poets stop to rest and catch t h e i r breath when they reach the terrace. Now that he has a moment of l e i s u r e to look about him the d i s o r i e n t -ed Dante i s surprised to see the sun on his l e f t . V i r g i l , 2 0 C h r i s t o p h e r Ricks, "Beckett F i r s t and Last," New  York Review of Books, Ik Dec. 1972, p. 43. 17 seeing his perplexity, explains i n a very pedantic, r h e t o r i c a l manner that they are situated antipodal to Jerusalem, which accounts f o r the sun's appearing on the l e f t (when he faces east). Once s a t i s f i e d on t h i s point, Dante asks his mentor how f a r they must yet journey. V i r g i l answers that the further they t r a v e l , the less the e f f o r t required (for one i s progressively purged of the weight of sin) and that when he finds the ascent l e a s t d i f f i c u l t , the journey w i l l be at an end. Just as he fi n i s h e s speaking a voice interrupts, and with one magnificent l i n e undercuts both V i r g i l ' s ornate explanations and Dante's naive exuberance. E com'elli [ V i r g i l i o ] ebbe sua parola detta, una voce d i presso sono; 'Forse che d i sedere i n p r i a a v r a i d i s t r e t t a J ' A l suon d i l e i ciascun d i noi s i torse, e vedemmo a mancina un gran petrone, del qual ne io ne e i prima s'accorse. La c i traemmo; ed i v i eran persone che s i stavano all'ombra dietro a l sasso come l'uom per negghienza a st a r s i pone. E un d i l o r , che mi sembiava lasso, sedeva e abbracciava l e ginocchia, tenendo i l viso giu t r a esse basso. •0 dolce segnor mio,' xdiss'io 'adocchia c o l u i che mostra se piu negligente che se p i g r i z i a fosse sua serocchia.' A l l o r s i volse a noi e puose mente, movendo i l viso pur su per l a coscia, e disset 'Or va tu su, che se' v a l e n t e l ' Conobbi a l l o r c h i era, e quell'angoscia che m*avacci.ava un poco ancor l a lena, non m'impedi l'andare a l u i ; e poscia ch'a l u i fu* giunto, alzd l a testa a pena, dicendoj *Hai ben veduto come i l sole dall'omero s i n i s t r o i l carro mena?* L i a t t i suoi p i g r i e l e corte parole mosser l e labbra mie un poco a r i s o ; poi cominciaii 'Belacqua, a me non dole di te omai; ma dimmi: perche assiso q u i r i t t a se*? attendi tu i s c o r t a , o pur lo modo usato t'ha r i p r i s o ? * Ed e l l i j *0 f r a t e , andar i n su che porta? che non mi lascerebbe i r e a* m a r t i r i l'angel d i Dio che siede i n su l a porta. Prima convien che tanto i l c i e l m'aggiri di fuor da essa, quanto fece i n v i t a , perch*io indugiai a l f i n e i buon s o s p i r i , se orazione i n prima non m'aita che surga su d i cuor che i n grazia vivaY l ' a l t r a che v a l , che *n c i e l non e udita?* (Purg. 4 . 9 7 - 1 3 5 ) [And just as he [ V i r g i l ] had fi n i s h e d speaking a voice nearby said. 'Perhaps y o u ' l l need to s i t down f i r s t ? * At t h i s sound each of us turned around and saw on the l e f t a huge rock which neither he nor I had at f i r s t noticed. We drew toward i t ; and there were persons who, i n the shade behind the rock, were standing around, l i k e lazy people often do. And one of them, who seemed weary to me, was s i t t i n g holding his knees with his face low down between them. '0 my good lord,* I said, 'look c l o s e l y at him who appears more l i s t l e s s than i f s l o t h were his s i s t e r . * At t h i s he turned toward us and granted us his attention, r a i s i n g his eyes above his thighs, and said: 'Go up now, i f you're so good!* I knew then who he was, and that fatigue that s t i l l kept me panting did not stop me from going up to him; when I was close to him he scarcely raised his head, saying: •Have you understood why the sun leads his chariot from the l e f t ? * 19 His lazy attitude and his few words moved my l i p s a l i t t l e to smile; then I "began. 'Belacqua, I do not sorrow f o r you any more; but t e l l me: Why do you s i t r i g h t here? Do you await an escort, or have the old ways overtaken you again?' And he: '0 brother, why bother to go up yet? since I would not be allowed to go to my torments by the angel of God who s i t s up there at the door. F i r s t i t i s necessary that the heavens c i r c l e round me here, outside the door, as long as they did i n l i f e ; (for I postponed to the end the good sighs), i f I am not helped f i r s t by prayers that surge from a heart that l i v e s i n grace; f o r what use are the others, that are not heard i n heaven?^] Of Belacqua the accounts are meagre. Cary quotes from the margin of the Monte Casino manuscript that "'This Belacqua was an excellent master of the harp and lute, but very negligent i n his a f f a i r s both s p i r i t u a l 21 and temporal.'" According to Sapegno, "Belacqua" was the sobriquet of one Duccio d i Bonavia, a Florentine maker of stringed instruments. The description of Belacqua made by the Anonimo Fiorentino, an early commentator, i s of s p e c i a l relevance to the Beckett character: This Belacqua was a c i t i z e n of Florence, an a r t i s a n , and made such things as lutes and guitars, and was the most s l o t h f u l man that ever l i v e d . And i t i s said of him that he would go every morning to his workshop and proceed to s i t down, and would never get up except when he wished to go to eat and to sleep. Now the author [Dante] was a very good fr i e n d of h i s ; he would many times, again and again, bring up his negligence; whence, one day, bringing i t up again, Belacqua r e p l i e d with the words of 21 H. F. Cary, trans., The V i s i o n of Dante (London: George Newnes, 1844), note to Purgs. 4.119. Cary's trans. 20 A r i s t o t l e . 'Sedendo. et quiescendo anima e f f i c i t u r sapiens;• to t h i s the author r e p l i e d , 'Surely, i f by s i t t i n g one becomes wise, then no one has ever been as wise as you.' 2 2 Beckett has ascribed many of the t r a i t s of the r e a l Belacqua to his own c r e a t i o n i laziness, wittiness, and an i n t e r e s t i n music (or a r t i n general) are chief among them. Dante's Belacqua, who never looked toward heaven in l i f e , i s now constrained to look earthward. His f o e t a l p o s i t i o n i s analggous to the state of his soul, 23 which has not yet been born into i t s new l i f e . ^ When 24 Belacqua has l i v e d his l i f e over again he w i l l be born into the scourges and flames of purgation. In Beckett's works t h i s has i r o n i c implications* the b i r t h of a new s e l f merely increases the pain of the old, and there i s no end to t h i s process. Many of the ideas and c o n f l i c t s contained i n the Belacqua passage re-appear as themes i n More Pricks than  Kicks. Perhaps the most obvious point of contrast i n the Dantean passage i s that between Dante's great mobility (mental and physical) and Belacqua*s immobility. Related 2 2Quoted by Sapegno i n his note to Purg . 4 .98 , p. 43. From t h i s description Beckett took the t i t l e of his story, "Sedendo et Quiescendo," t r a n s i t i o n , 21 (1932), 13-20. ®® In the B i b l i c a l sense, these souls are i n the Egypt of the soul's bondage, from which they w i l l e x i t into the Is r a e l of freedom, when they have been purged. 24 Compare Yeats's idea of "dreaming through;" note Murphy, p. 78, where Murphy speaks of his "Belacqua fantasy" and how he w i l l ha^e "dreamed i t a l l through." to Dante*s mobility i s his int e r e s t i n the macrocosm, evidenced by his questions concerning the heavens. The immobile Belacqua, however, i s more introspective. Belacqua Shuah starts out by doing much walking about, "with the b e l i e f that the best thing he had to do 25 was to move constantly from place to place" but moves about less as his l i f e progresses ( i n spite of him) and eventually achieves s t a s i s i n "Draff." S t a s i s , the microcosmic moment where there i s neither time nor space, i s i n fac t the goal of his wanderings. The conditions which define s t a s i s are also those that define a r t , and so we often f i n d Belacqua studying a r t as a means to the attainment of that same goal. Because Belacqua places such emphasis on his mental s e l f , his physical s e l f i s quite foreign to him; he i s often seen discovering parts of himself, as when he s i t s i n the r a i n and stares at his 26 hands. Belacqua*s problem i s that the macrocosm hinders him from coming completely a l i v e i n his mind. At the beginning of "Dante and the Lobster" we see Belacqua attempting to a t t a i n the microcosmic moment by reading canto two of the Paradiso, "the f i r s t of the canti i n the moon" ( 9 ) . Belacqua has not obtained transcendence, 2 5"Ding-Dong," p. 3 6 . "A Wet Night," p. 8 3 . 22 27 however; he i s "bogged." Being bogged i s not the s t a t i c condition he desires; he desires to be stuck (physically) and moving (mentally) at the same time. The use of d i r e c t a l l u s i o n which characterizes these early s t o r i e s i s exemplified by t h i s opening passage. Belacqua refers to " B l i s s f u l Beatrice," who i s anything but i n t h i s canto where she f l a y s Dante f o r his theologi-c a l l y incorrect explanation of the spots i n theismonn, which she explains "step by step." "Part one, the r e f u -t a t i o n , was p l a i n s a i l i n g " alludes to the f i r s t tercet of canto two, i n which Dante speaks of "mio legno che cantando varca" (Par. 2 .3) ["my ship, thatssinging s a i l s _ 28 along " J . "The disproof, the reproof, that was patent" echoes the "provando e riprovando" ["proving and reprov-ing"] of Par. 3 . 3 -Impatient with the tedium of canto two, Belacqua wishes to go on to Paradiso 3» i n which Dante, having understood Beatrice's lesson, "could rai s e his heavy head" ["leva* i l capo," Par. 3 . 6 ] and i n which Piccarda discourses. This i s the f i r s t example of the a n t i - i n t e l l e c -tualism which Belacqua evinces i n More Pricks than Kicks, 27 '.. The word bogged i t s e l f suggests an i n f e r n a l v i s t a (c f . Inf. 6). Dante's son Pietro, when confronted with Par. 2, s a i d , "'Work out the r e s t , i n fact the whole thing, for yourself, for I see nothing and understand nothing.'" Quoted by D. L. Sayers i n her t r a n s l a t i o n of the Purga-t o r i o (Harmondsworth. Penguin, 1955)» P» 335* 28 Longfellow's t r a n s l a t i o n . for although art represents a desirous condition, i t s worldly manifestations are to be avoided. While reading, Belacqua feels the incursion of the macrocosm—his body i s hungry. This c o n f l i c t has i n fact been prefigured i n the t i t l e , where the poetic world of Dante i s juxtaposed to the material world of the lobster. I r o n i c a l l y , Belacqua's preparation of lunch i s described i n a way that parodies Beatrice's explanation of the moon spots to Dante. Thus we have Belacqua thinking over his three goals for the day, "one, lunchf two, the lobster; three the I t a l i a n lesson" (10). So Beatrice i n Paradise, whose three goals were to show that Dante's philosophy errs, to show his mistaken assumption regarding the laws of physics and to provide the correct theological explan-ation of his question. Belacqua prepares his lunch with a l l the s c i e n t i f i c accuracy with which Beatrice explains the moon spots. An ir o n i c p a r a l l e l i s drawn between the bread Belacqua uses for his sandwich and Dante's "pan d e l l i a n g e l i " (Par. 2.11) ["bread of the angels"] on which he says his readers must feed before reading the Paradiso. Belacqua goes on to re-mark that an inexperienced person would "make a hash of the entire proceedings" as indeed Beatrice states that Dante has done. "'Certo assai vedrai sommerso / ne l f a l s o i l creder tuo'" (Par. 2.61-2) ["'without doubt you w i l l recognize that your b e l i e f i s completely f a l s e ' " ] . Beckett 24 continues t h i s parody, describing Belacqua's preparation of the two s l i c e s of bread i n a way analogous to Beatrice's exposition of the two parts of the confutation of Dante's error. Belacqua places a s l i c e of bread "very pat and precise" ( 1 1 ) on the toaster; so Beatrice places the f i r s t part of her confutation before Dante. And just as Bel-acqua must toast his bread "evenly" so Beatrice's argu-ments had to be stated i n harmonious perfection. While he chars his bread, Belacqua continues to mull over canto two of the Paradiso and the endeavours there to determine the cause of moon-spots. Like "the t i l l e r of the f i e l d " ( 1 2 ) Belacqua believes that "the spots were CaM with his jbruss of thorns." Dante, however, snubs t h i s explanation: •che son l i segni bui di questo corpo, che l a giuso i n t e r r a fan d i Cain favoleggiare a l t r u i ? * (Par. 2.49-5D ['what are the dark spots on t h i s body [the moon] that make those down on earth t e l l t a les of Cain?'] Before answering t h i s question, Beatrice asks Dante to propose his own explanation, but rejects his material explanation for the correct s p i r i t u a l one. "On his knees" ( 1 2 ) , Belacqua prepares his bread, his " o f f e r i n g " ( 1 3 ) . To complete i t , he must obtain some Gorgonzola at the grocery store. On his way;,- he fears "being accosted," having the outer world converge on the inner; thus he had "lock[ed] the door" (10) when he began his lunchtime preparations. "His hunger [was] more of mind . . . than of body" ( 1 3 ) . for his lunch i s the o f f e r -ing made by his mind to appease his body, which must be appeased before he can come f u l l y a l i v e i n his mind— a vicious c i r c l e , f or ultimately i t i s l i f e i t s e l f which restrains him from a t t a i n i n g the microcosm, as we see i n "Draff." Belacqua walks with a "spavined g a i t " ( 1 5 ) , reminis-cent of Dante i n the dark wood who walked " s i che '1 pie fermo sempre era '1 piu basso" (Inf. 1 . 3 0 ) ["such that 29 the firm foot was always the lower"]. The pain from his feet interferes with his sleep; even when unconscious, the mind i s not free from the body. The c o n f l i c t between macrocosm and microcosm i s also conveyed through these a l l u s i o n s . Whereas Belacqua i s with Dante and Beatrice i n paradiso when locked away i n his own room he i s l i k e Dante limping through the dark wood when he sets out along the s t r e e t . Having eaten his lunch i n the pub, Belacqua proceeds to the house of his teacher, Signorina Ottolenghi, who "was waiting i n the l i t t l e front room o f f the h a l l , 29 SSee C. S. Singleton's note to l i n e 30 i n his Commentary to the "Inferno" (Princetont Princeton Univer-s i t y Press, 1970), p. 9. Beckett's remark that one of Estragon's feet i s "damned" takes on sp e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the l i g h t of Singleton's information. See Michael Robinson, The Long Sonata of the Dead (Londont Rupert Hart-Davis, 1969)V pp. 250-1. 26 which Belacqua was naturally i n c l i n e d to think of rather as the vestibule" (18). Naturally, because he has read canto three of the Inferno, and for such a mind-dweller as Belacqua the connection between l i f e and l i t e r a t u r e i s obvious. As a project for Belacqua, the Ottolenghi suggests that he "make up Dante's rare movements of com-passion i n H e l l " (19)• This r e c a l l s a p a r t i c u l a r l i n e to Belacqua, "'qui vive l a pieta quand'e ben morta*" (Inf. 20.28). "'I wonder how you could translate that?'" asks Belacqua f o o l i s h l y , f o r because of the pun on " f i e t a " (both " p i t y " and "piety") the l i n e i s untranslatable. The l i n e , which means l i t e r a l l y , "Here l i v e s piety when i t [ p i t y ] i s dead," i s spoken by V i r g i l to Dante when the l a t t e r i s moved to tears by the sight of the sorcerers, whose heads are twisted completely around so that they must walk backward. Beckett has predicated the story on the implications of t h i s quotation, where we see the c o n f l i c t between divine judgement and human mercy. The a l l u s i o n to the punishment of Cain, the quandary of McCabe (heir of Cain and Abel), the cruciform expression of the grocer, the Ottolenghi's assignment and the b o i l i n g of the lobster, a l l r e l a t e to the l i n e quoted from the twentieth canto. In the i d e a l world pieta i s both p i t y and piety, but i n the outer world i t i s either one or the other, and often neither. Walking home a f t e r his lesson, Belacqua muses on the l i n e . "Why not piety and pi t y both, even down below?" (2G) he asks. When he arrives home he goes "down into the bowels of the earth, into the kitchen i n the basement" (21). The descent i s obviously Dantean; i t i s i n t h i s l i t t l e h e l l that he w i l l learn his r e a l lesson about jus-t i c e and mercy. For i t i s here i n the kitchen that his aunt t e l l s him that the lobster he had purchased for his dinner must be boiled a l i v e . Though Belacqua knows he must be merciful, he also knows he must eat. Again he must s a c r i f i c e the needs of his mind to appease the needs of his body; the "cruciform" shape of the lobster raises the s a c r i f i c e into a larger s i g n i f i c a n c e . Belacqua 'S pieta i s undercut by his acquiescence to having the lob-ster boiled, just as he ate his sandwich while contempla-t i n g the hanging of McCabe. There are indeed more pricks than kicks; the pricks of the macrocosm are continually f e l t , with l i t t l e recompense, and w i l l continue to be f e l t even a f t e r death* Well, thought Belacqua, i t ' s a quick death, God help us a l l . It i s not. Belacqua i s s t i l l seen searching for the microcosmic moment i n the story "Ding-Dong." In t h i s story the con-f l i c t arises from Belacqua's desire to a t t a i n s t a s i s and yet be (mentally) moving. This state i s epitomized by the motion of the b e l l s , suggested by the t i t l e , which move i n the same place and which are i n fact s t i l l f o r a moment i n each cycle, a "'moving pause'" ( 3 8 ) . Whereas the condition of the microcosm i s s t a s i s , that of "the outer world" (38) i s one of unceasing motion. Belacqua at one time believed that he too had only "to move constantly from place to place" (36) i n order to ar r i v e at the microcosm, but he i s f i n a l l y disabused of this notion. Yet even at t h i s stage he r e a l i z e s that where t h i s outward motion i s directed i s unimportant— "But as for the s i t e s , one was as good as another, be-cause they a l l disappeared as soon as he came to rest i n them." He i s obviously t r y i n g to arr i v e at an inner state, l i k e Dante's Belacqua. For both of these charac-ters there i s "torment i n the terms [ l i f e and purgation] and i n the interv a l s [Antepurgatory] a measure of ease." The " s i n f u l l y indolent" Belacqua's moving about i n order to obtain s t a s i s i s of course as i r o n i c as the Unnamable's t a l k i n g i n order to be s i l e n t . Yet although Belacqua r e a l i z e s that motion does him " l i t t l e good" (37) he goes on, but only to stop now and then, when he r e a l -izes he i s getting nowhere, l i k e "Buridan's ass" ( 3 9 ; c f . Par. 4 . 1 - 9 ) , squatting l i k e his namesake i n Antepurgatory to wait for a sign. Unlike the c e l e s t i a l signs which mark out the saved Belacqua's wait, Shuah observes neon signs. For him, these are as good as any, for motion i n the outer world i s meaningless anyway, and when he does see his sign he moves o f f i n the opposite d i r e c t i o n . Where Belacqua r e a l l y wishes to arri v e i s i n "Ego Maximus" (39) which l i k e paradiso goes "nowhere, only round and round." Those who do have a goal i n the outer world are treated i n a heavily sarcastic manner: the "blind p a r a l y t i c " who has made a business out of begg-ing; the l i t t l e g i r l who i s blind to a l l but her goal i n the slums; the queuer who fetches the loaf, b l i n d to the pl i g h t of the g i r l . Belacqua escapes from th i s "cieco mondo" (Inf. 4.13) ["blind world"] to the pub, his haven. "Here . . . a r t and love, scrabbling i n dispute or staggering home, were barred" (4l). In the outer world, a r t i s argument, love i s d e b i l i t a t i n g . So Belacqua s i t s i n the pub, and waits for a sign which manifests i t s e l f as "a hatless woman" (43) who seems "to be hawking some ware." This woman's face i s " f u l l of l i g h t " ( 4 4 )—"petrified i n radiance" (45) notes Belacqua i n his "sweet s t y l e . " The woman i s a type of Beatrice, as the al l u s i o n s to Dante indicate. Dante describes Beatrice i n terms of l i g h t throughout the Para-30 diso. Dante also wrote a canzone about a "donna petrosa" 30 Dante, "Amor, tu vedi ben, che questa donna," i n Rime, a cura d i Gianfranco Contini (1946; r p t . Torino: STnaudi, 1970), 45 (CII), p. 162. ["stony ( p e t r i f i e d ) woman"], and he wrote i t i n the "dolce s t i l novo" (Purga 2 4 . 5 7 ) ["sweet new s t y l e " ] . This Beatrice i s s e l l i n g "'seats i n heaven*" ( 4 5 ; c f . Par. 3 2 . 7 ) which she says "*goes round . . . and round and round$*" t h i s i s the same description Belacqua made of his microcosmic paradise. Belacqua f i n a l l y succumbs to her sales p i t c h , and buys four seats, one each for his " * f r i e n j ? " "*daj," "*ma*," and "*motte*" ( 4 6)--none for himself. For i f Belacqua i s to f i n d his paradise anywhere, i t w i l l be within his mind, and not i n the outer world. The paradise the woman describes i s macrocosmic, material and e x t r i n s i c to the s e l f . "Ding-Dong" ends with an a l l u -sion to the Paradiso, where "Dante and the Lobster" began. In both instances the idea of a paradise exterior to the s e l f i s rejected. In "Ding-Dong," however, Belacqua comes closer to the microcosm through contemplating the woman, who acts as a catalyst i n achieving that microcosmic state, which i s represented at the end of the story by the music that Belacqua t a r r i e s to hear. That inner being cannot be obtained i n the outer world i s the theme of "A Wet Night." In t h i s story Beckett s a t i r i s e s the outer world, showing how empty i t i s , and how i t c o n f l i c t s with Belacqua*s desire to turn inward, where meaning i n the form of i d e n t i t y can be found. In the outer world id e n t i t y i s merely a r e l a t i o n s h i p between friends, and these s o c i a l relationships are empty. "Friend-ship i s a s o c i a l expedient, l i k e upholstery or the d i s t r i -31 bution of garbage buckets." It i s evident that Belacqua i s aware of the empti-ness of society. In "A Wet Night" he emerges from the depths of a pub only to look for another where "he neither knew nor was known" (48). The only object between him and i t i s the world, those he might meet, just as i n "Dante and the Lobster" he was wary of anyone interrupting his pilgrimage to the Gorgonzola. The road to the pub i s v i a "long st r a i g h t Pearsesstreet," ("la d i r i t t a v i a " ) , where he hears i n his mind "a simple cantilena?" Dante also heard a "cantilena" (Par. 32.97) at the end of his quest. The Dublin through which Belacqua courses i s likened to "Florence," and Belacqua i s likened as much to his eponym as he i s to Dante, as was the case i n "Dante and the Lobster." Belacqua has the misfortune to be appre-hended by Chas. True to the type, Chas. i s more of the macrocosm—"of French n a t i o n a l i t y " (49)—than of the microcosm—"a mind l i k e a tattered concordance." Belacqua asks Chas. "'What's the news of the great world?'", i n d i -cating his divorcement from the mundane. Chas. reminds Belacqua that he w i l l see him at the Frica's party, and Belacqua, t y p i c a l l y , r e p l i e s "'Alas'" (50). 31 Proust, p. 46. Belacqua has agreed to thrust himself into t h i s inferno of the Frica's party not for the "backstairs, c l a r e t cup and the i n t e l l i g e n t s i a " ( 5 1 ) , but for the Alba, his Beatrice. Like the Beatrice of the V i t a Nuova 32 Alba i s going to wear a "sc a r l e t gown? to the party, and w i l l be dressed "to the nines" ( 5 4 ) , which i s Beatrice number (Vita Nuova, 2 9 ) . Belacqua muses on his Beatrice i n a pub, where he has escapedffrom "the Poet" (51)} here he s i t s with "his feet on a round so high that his knees topped the curb of the counter" ( 5 2 ) , the Belacquean f o e t a l p o s i t i o n , which indicates the withdrawal into the s e l f f a c i l i t a t e d by the inner world of the pub. The Alba i s for Belacqua, as are a l l women, a representation of the f l e s h . He loves however, "not woman of f l e s h " ( 5 2 ) , but his mental image of her, f o r l i k e Murphy he can love only i n his mind. Like the Beatrician figure i n "Ding-Dong," the Alba i s "a woman of the world" (55)» a f l e s h l y counterpart to the Beatrice of the Gommedia. Belacqua attempts to solve the problem of how to love (mentally) without loving (physic-a l l y ) by voyeurism, as i s seen i n "Walking Out," where he requests his fiancee Lucy to "take a c i c i s b e o " ( 1 0 2 ) . That way he could experience mentally t h e i r physical love. 3 2Dante, La V i t a Nuova, trans. Barbara Reynolds (Harmondsworthi Penguin Books, I 9 6 9 )» chapter 2 . Alba has also " l e t h a l eyes" (54) which suggest those of Bea-t r i c e i n paradiso. Beckett's wit flashes i n his s a t i r i c a l portrayal of the outer world. The i d e n t i t y of people there i s estab-l i s h e d by i n i t i a l — " P . B." or "S. J . " ( 5 7 ) —by sobriquet, or not at a l l . Mindless disputation characterizes an i n t e l l i g e n t s i a enamoured of i t s own voice. These people claim to see order i n the "'Gehenna of l i n k s ' " (58) which i s i t s e l f merely an a r t i f i c i a l construct which they con-stantly try to j u s t i f y . We see Chas. attempting to "ex-p l a i n the world" (58) but "the d i f f i c u l t y was to know what exactly he meant." A l l these people go " t h e i r not so very d i f f e r e n t ways" (59) f o r i n truth they have no separate i d e n t i t i e s . On his way to the party, Belacqua stops to admire his hands, and i s interrupted from his reverie by a member of the C i v i c Guard, "who had much more of the l i o n than of the fox" ( 7 2 ) ; a t y p i c a l member of society, he i s more body than mind, unlike Guido da Montefeltro, whose a c t i v i -t i e s "'non furon leonine, ma d i volpe*" (Inf. 2 7 . 7 ^ - 5 ) ["•were not leonine, but foxy*"]. The a l l u s i o n to Inferno i s apt, for l i k e the demons there, the Guard permits Belacqua no r e s t , but forces him to "'move o n f " through t h i s a l l u s i o n Beckett expands the motif of the outer world as inferno. The party epitomizes the outer world, and as Belacqua arri v e s he r e a l i z e s that "his mind . • . had not had l e i s u r e to dwell upon the sufferings i n store f o r i t " (7*0. He s p e c i f i c a l l y states "mind" because i t i s his mind which yearns for the inner world and which suffers i n the outer. Accordingly, Belacqua arrives i n the "vestibule," the cloakroom of h e l l , and i s seen by the Alba "under the l i n t e l " which r e c a l l s the gates of h e l l (Inf. 3.10-1K). Appropriately, Beckett lards the text with d i r e c t a l l u -sions to the Inferno t He [Belacqua] had abandoned a l l hope [ i n f . 3 * 9 ] of getting her [Alba] where he wanted her, he :,; could neither be on her l e f t hand [ c f . Inf. 10. 133] nor at her feet. His only remaining con-cern, before his soul heaved anchor [ i n f . 3»82-7] was to get some kind f r i e n d to scotch a wolf [ i n f . 1 . 4 9 ] that he could not hold o f f by the ears very much longer. (80) Belacqua, who only wants to love the Alba i n his mind, abandons the hope he had of doing so, f o r he fe e l s the goad of l u s t , symbolised by a wolf i n Dante's dark wood. The Alba, obviously Belacqua's kindred s p i r i t , asks him to take her home. They escape to t h i s l i t t l e world, where they s i t together, sharing the f i r e , a b o t t l e , and the sorrow known by those who turn inward. He emerges from "Casa Alba" (83) into the s o c i a l inferno, soon stop-ping to take up "the knee-and-elbow position'. 0" The c o n f l i c t s raised i n these s t o r i e s are resolved 33 i n the l a s t one of the c o l l e c t i o n , "Draff," which d e t a i l s 33 Compare Cary's V i s i o n of Dante, Inf.18.112. Note that t h i s canto punishes the "panders" and compare "Draff" p. 176. Belacqua's funeral, as presided over by the Smeraldina. The undertaker who i s handling the funeral i s a "Mr. Malacoda," counterpart of the captain of the demons i n the f i f t h bolgia of the Inferno* Smeraldina requests that the "demon" (178) "'not be coming up here to torment me,*" but Malacoda i s already there, "with a tape i n his black claws," an a l l u s i o n to the generic name of the d e v i l s , "Malebranche" [ l i t . " e v i l claws," Inf. 21.3?]. Hairy Quin arrives a f t e r him, and Smeraldina takes him to the corpse, then leaves the room, clos i n g the door "on the dying and the dead" (181). This underlines another theme in t h i s story J that f a r from l i v i n g , one i s "dying a l l [one's] l i f e " (176). Death i s merely a modification of existence; "Belacqua was not wholly dead, but merely mutilated" (182). This i s a f a m i l i a r theme i n Beckett's work, and one of the most p e c u l i a r l y Dantesque. Hairy and Smerry proceed to the cemetery to prepare the gravesite. "In the cemetery the l i g h t was f a i l i n g , the sea moonstone washing the countless toes turned up, 34 the mountains swarthy Uccello [Par. 15*109-11] behind the headstones" (182). This a l l u s i o n to the Paradiso contrasts with those to the Inferno which characterized the world Belacqua has l e f t . Here i n the grave he has 34 Perhaps also the painter. found his Paradise, the timeless one he l o s t at b i r t h . Any other Paradise i s a gamble—"Ten to one God was i n his Heaven" (186). The following day the funeral i s held. Malacoda arrives to prepare the corpse, along with "Scarmiglione" (185) [ I n f . 21 . 1 0 5 ] who drives the hearse, saying " A l l aboard. A l l souls at half-mast." That they a l l — l i v i n g and dead—get into t h i s modern version of Charon's boat [ i n f . 3.82-4] amplifies the theme of the l i v i n g dead, and also suggests that h e l l i s not exclusively an other-worldly state. The death of Belacqua robs Smeraldina's l i f e of i t s " s p i r i t u a l " (18?) side; she i s now "just a fine strapping lump of a g i r l " (188) and therefore ripe for Hairy's plucking. Hairy and Smerry return from the funeral to f i n d "the house i n flames" (189)» the f i r e i n d i c a t i n g that Smeraldina's l i f e with Hairy w i l l be the opposite of her l i f e with "Bel-acqua"—"clear water." So Hairy and Smerry are united and Belacqua finds the s t a s i s f o r which he had been searching, along with "an overwhelming sense that a l l t h i s would happen to him again, i n a dream or 36 subsequent existence." 3^Note the "timeless mock" on Belacqua's face (182). 3 6"What a Misfortune," p. 1 5 0 . Belacqua's fascination with timeless states i s a (somewhat i r o n i c ) r e f l e c t i o n of his status as a "poet" (117)» for he i s as much Dante as he i s Belacqua i n these s t o r i e s . The timeless state i s the poetic state, the Keatsian moment. For t h i s reason, Belacqua i s aware of no b a r r i e r between l i f e and l i t e r a t u r e — h e i s not sur-prised to meet Beatrice i n a pub, and a cloakroom becomes the vestibule. It i s the constant incursion of the macrocosm, the outer world, into his meditations, that creates the con-f l i c t s which these stories r e l a t e . The macrocosm i s delineated i n terms of h e l l , hence the many allusio n s to " t h e Inferno i n the descriptions of parties and the outer world i n general. By contrast, i t i s when Belacqua i s alone with his thoughts, l i k e his eponym i n the Antepurga-tory, that the Paradiso i s invoked. There are f a r more references to the Inferno i n these s t o r i e s because there are f a r more pricks than kicks i n (and after) l i f e . The most s i g n i f i c a n t merit of these s t o r i e s i s that they display many of Beckett's l i t e r a r y roots, and propose themes which he explores i n his l a t e r f i c t i o n . CHAPTER THREE POEMS IN ENGLISH 37 Dante figures i n f i v e of the Poems i n English. "Whoroscope," "Enueg I," "Alba," "Sanies I I , " and "Mal-acoda." In these poems Beckett i s especially interested i n the Dante who wrote the Inferno. The themes of the poems echo many of those i n More Pricks than Kicks, ~38 but they also point toward the l a t e r f i c t i o n . The following study i s based on the three most Dantesque poems, "Whoroscope," "Enueg I," and "Malacoda." "Whoroscope" i s a mini-biography of Descartes—a f i c t i o n a l i z e d Descartes. The notes, i n the Nabokovian rather than the E l i o t i c t r a d i t i o n , reveal the "f a c t s " of Descartes' l i f e , yet those facts seem to describe an-other person. The notes give us the macrocosmic view of Descartes; the poem, which i s an i n t e r i o r monologue, gives us the poetic version of his l i f e . The poem i s marked by a tension between the Cartesian and the non-Cartesian, between rationalism and s c h o l a s t i c -ism. This tension i s si g n a l l e d by the t i t l e . Descartes abhorred horoscopes. "He kept his own birthday to himself 37;Beckett, Poems i n English (New York* Grove Press, Inc., 1961). Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 08 Any i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the poetry must acknowledge Lawrence E. Harvey's painstaking and sympathetic exegesis, Samuel Beckett 1 Poet and C r i t i c (New Jersey 1 Princeton University Press, 197077 so that no astrologer could cast his n a t i v i t y " ( 1 6 ) . As a s c i e n t i s t , Descartes was interested i n knowing the present, not the future. As the formulator of the cogito, further-more, he believed that he was responsible f o r his own existence. Such theories obviously are i n d i r e c t con-t r a s t to those held by Dante, and t h i s contrast i s another source of the poem's tension. The poem opens with a question, "What's that?* ( 1 ) , which i s followed by many others. The more Descartes knows, the more he has to know, or to put i t another way, the more he knows, the less he knows. And as we see from t h i s f i r s t question, Descartes i s constantly confronted with the prospect of not knowing, even i f what he wants to know i s something as simple as whether his "eggs [had been] hatched from eight to ten days" ( 1 5 ) . One cannot know the future according to Descartes, but, i r o n i c a l l y , one can-not know the present, either. Descartes• monologue i s a remembrance of things past which i s constantly interrupted by things present. This pattern repeats the one i n "Dante and the Lobster," where Belacqua's musings on the Paradiso are interrupted by his plans for lunch. The "egg" ( 2 ) which i s to be Descartes' meal also suggests the pre-natal existence yearned f o r by Beckett's characters, such as Belacqua Shuah, who wanted to "'be back i n the caul on [ h i s ] back i n the dark for ever.'" - ^ " F i n g a l , " More Pricks Than Kicks, p. 29. 40 It also suggests u n f u l f i l l e d being, and toward the end of the poem Beckett affirms the p a r a l l e l between the l i f e of Descartes and the l i f e of the egg. The Descartes with whom the poem opens i s blustering, obscene and self-assured, as his reference to Gal i l e o as a " v i l e old Copernican lead-swinging son of a s u t l e r " (7) indicates. The Descartes of t h i s poem i s not the creator of a new philosophy, but the attacker of the old Scholastic-ism, "throwing Jesuits out of the sk y l i g h t " ( 2 6 ) . Most of the people mentioned i n the poem are enemies of Descartes, from " G a l i l e o " (5^^o "Weulles" (9*0. I t i s t h i s personal aspect of Descartes that Beckett e x p l o i t s . The meaning of l i f e i s to be found i n personal experience, Beckett suggests, rather than i n "sophistry" (16). Descartes• philosophy was i n fac t the r e s u l t of a personal experience, his "days . . . i n the hot cupboard" (26), where he was enwombed l i k e the egg i n i t s s h e l l . Here Descartes had the visions (ascribed by him to divine intervention) which led to the formulation of his p h i l o -sophy. Dante too had his v i s i o n , but his led to tran-scendence. Musing on his v i s i o n s , Descartes i s interrupted by the a r r i v a l of "Hals" (27) who painted Descartes* p o r t r a i t just p r i o r to the philosopher's death. Descartes has Hals "wait" (28) and i n doing so draws attention to his own fate, for Descartes also waits; he i s not f u l l y i n 41 control a f t e r a l l . His philosophy cannot account for the emotion he fe e l s when he thinks of his former playmate, the "squinty doaty" (29)» or the death of his daughter, "Francine" ( 3 1 ) t whom he c a l l s a "foetus" which reasserts the p a r a l l e l established i n l i n e two between man and egg. "Foetus" i s appropriate f o r Francine; dying "at the age of s i x " (16) she had not r e a l l y l i v e d . After speaking of his vi s i o n s , Descartes engages i n some "Eucharistic sophistry" ( 1 7 ) , attempting to give a natural explanation of the supernatural "doctrine of transubstantiationl 5" At t h i s point the f i r s t a l l u s i o n to Dante i s made. Speaking of the Scholastics, Descartes says, "They don't know what the master of them that do did, / that the nose i s touched by the kiss of a l l f f o u l and sweet a i r " ( 5 6 - 7 ) . The a l l u s i o n i s to Dante's des-c r i p t i o n of A r i s t o t l e as " *1 maestro d i color che sanno" 40 (Inf. 4 . 131) ["the master of them who know"]. In his sophistry Descartes sided with A r i s t o t l e , who maintained that the senses require d i r e c t or i n d i r e c t contact i n order to be stimulated. More important however i s the fact that t h i s a l l u s i o n to the archetypal "knower" i s the only 40 Lawrence E. Harvey, i n Samuel Beckett t Poet and  C r i t i c , f a i l s to indicate that the a l l u s i o n i s to Dante's description of A r i s t o t l e (p. 2 7 ) . Ruby Cohn, i n Samuel  Beckett» The Comic Gamut (New Jersey; Rutgers University Press, 19o*27, p. 13» ascribes the a l l u s i o n to the Convivio, where, however, i t does not occur. See Sapegno's note to Inf. 4 . 1 3 1 , p. 5 0 . 42 a l l u s i o n to the Inferno i n the poem; a l l other a l l u s i o n s to Dante are to the Paradiso. In the description of "St. Augustine" (17; Par. 3 2 . 3 5 ) "thinking" becomes " e r r i n g " — " F a l l o r , ergo sum!" ( 7 3 )• Clea r l y , the desire to know i s destined to f a i l . In the next section of the poem ( 7 7 - 8 3 ) Descartes "proves God by exhaustion" (p. 17)» or, pre c i s e l y , by our idea of perfection, concluding that he i s "the lonely petal of a great high bright rose" ( 8 3 ) . The a l l u s i o n i s to Dante's "Candida rosa" (Par. 3 1 » 1 ) ["white rose"]; with that image Dante represented God surrounded by a l l the heavenly beings, each represented as a petal of the rose. The "lonely" Descartes i s much less self-assured than at the beginning of the poem. He r e a l i z e s that he is not completely divorced from the Scholastics, nor i s his being completely a r e s u l t of his own w i l l . At t h i s point i n his monologue, Descartes finds that his egg i s "ripe at l a s t " (84). I t has progressed while he has regressed. The movement of the poem i t s e l f i s one of decline, from assurance to loneliness, from egg to "abortion" (87)» from l i f e to death. In t h i s f i n a l sec-t i o n (84-98) the l i f e of the egg and of the man are treated together. Like the chick, man l i v e s i n the dark, only to die before having l i v e d — F r a n c i n e , Anna Maria Schurmann ( 6 8 ) , who "bloomed and withered" (70) and Henry IV (41), assassin^ ated i n his prime, are a l l examples of u n f u l f i l l e d l i v e s . Descartes, exiled as i t were i n Protestant Sweden, i s also u n f u l f i l l e d . He likens Queen Ch r i s t i n a of Sweden to Rahab (Par. 9 * 1 1 6 ) , who sheltered Joshua*s spies i n J e r i -cho, as C h r i s t i n a shelters Catholic Descartes i n Protestant Sweden. As the harlot of Jericho, Rahab r e c a l l s the "whore" of the t i t l e and the pun i n " p r o s t i s c i u t t o " ( 1 3 ) . Descartes, who was o r i g i n a l l y so self-assured, now finds himself at the mercy of the physician Weulles, his enemy. "Oh Weulles spare the blood of a Frank / who has climbed the b i t t e r steps" ( 9 4 - 5 0 ) . The braggart has become a beggar, l i k e Dante i n exile who found "come e duro c a l l e / lo scendere e *1 s a l i r per l ' a l t r u i s c a l e " (Par. 17.59-60) ["how hard i s the way up and down other people's s t a i r s " ] . That Descartes' l i f e i s u n f u l f i l l e d i s also suggested by 41 the next l i n e ( 9 6 ) , where his name rests incomplete. With his l a s t words, Descartes asks f o r a "second / st a r l e s s inscrutable .hour" ( 9 7 - 8 ) l i k e his f i r s t i n the hot cupboard. His l i f e i s yet i n ovo; the sky, repre-senting the mysteries of l i f e , i s as inscrutable to him as the s h e l l to the chick. There i s also the admission, i n the word " s t a r l e s s , " that his l i f e w i l l not end i n transcendence, i n knowing completely, which Dante repre-sented by the " s t e l l e " ["stars"] with which he closes each of his c a n t i c l e s . With the word "hour" the poem comes f u l l 41 Note that "perron" means "steps." 44 c i r c l e from the "hora" of the t i t l e , which suggests that l i f e i s not a progression but i s s t a t i c . As the dying Descartes looks back upon his l i f e , he sees what l i t t l e progress he has made. His sophistry cannot give him an insight into his being,which, l i k e the egg, i s the "abor-t i o n of a f l e d g l i n g " (8?). The allusi o n s to Dante operate on two l e v e l s . Their primary si g n i f i c a n c e i s to suggest the f u t i l i t y of know-ing. A r i s t o t l e , who was to the Scholastics what Descartes was to the Ra t i o n a l i s t s , comprises Beckett's only a l l u s i o n to the Inferno, i n d i c a t i n g ; where the attempts to know lead. On another l e v e l , the all u s i o n s to the Paradiso, and by implication to i t s creator, suggest that transcend-ence i s possible only through poetry; that a l l knowledge •is useful only as the s t u f f of art« For i n the brightness of art alone can be decipher-ed the b a f f l e d ecstasy . . . known before the i n -scrutable superficies of a cloud, . . . a spire, a flower.^ 2 In "Whoroscope" Beckett concerns himself primarily with Dante the a r t i s t . In "Enueg I" however, the Dante who journeyed through h e l l i s most i n his mind. The enueg, a Provencal form, treats of the annoyances of l i f e . In t h i s poem l i f e i t s e l f i s the annoyance, l i f e i s h e l l . 42 Proust, 57 • Note the marked correspondence with words i n the poem. The narrator climbs "to the crest of the surge of the steep perilous bridge" (5) which suggests the steeply-arched rock-bridges over the various chasms i n the region of the malebolge (e.g. Inf. 1 8 . 1 0 , 79? 2 1 . 8 9 ) . The "bright s t i f f banner" (?) r e c a l l s the banner behind which the F u t i l e run (Inf. 3 * 5 2 - 4 ) , here s t i f f e n e d as i f with r i g o r mortis. The narrator proceeds "into a black west/ t h r o t t l e d with clouds" ( 8 - 9 ) , r e c a l l i n g Dante's descrip-t i o n of h e l l as "d'ogni luce muto" (Inf. 5 . 2 8 ) [ " s i l e n t of a l l l i g h t " ] , " t h r o t t l e d " lending an especially brutal hue to the a l l u s i o n . As the pilgrim progresses, he finds that his " s k u l l " "bites l i k e a dog against i t s chastisement" (15)» l i k e Cerberus, the hound of h e l l , which V i r g i l chastises by>-throwing d i r t into i t s three mouths (Inf. 6 . 2 5 - 7 ) . The wanderer continues» "I trundle along r a p i d l y now on my 43 ruined feet / f l u s h with the l i v i d canal" ( 1 6 - 1 7 ) , which r e c a l l s the r i v e r of b o i l i n g blood that Dante crosses (Inf. 1 2 . 1 2 4 - 6 ) i n h e l l . "Then for miles only wind" ( 2 2 ) suggests the "bufera i n f e r n a l " (Inf. 5 . 1 3 1 ) [ " h e l l i s h wind"] of the second c i r c l e of h e l l . The narrator encounters Democritus (Inf. 4 . 1 3 6 ) then he sees a " f i e l d on the l e f t [go] up i n a sudden blaze / of shouting" ( 3 6 - 7 ) which image suggests Compare Inf. 3 . 9 8 , " l a l i v i d a paluda," ["the l i v i d swamp"]. both the r a i n of f i r e i n the seventh c i r c l e (Inf. 14.28-30) and the shouting and screaming of those shipped o f f to h e l l (Inf. 3 . 1 0 7 ) . The s t e r i l i t y of the seventh c i r c l e i s conveyed i n Beckett's poem by the "grey verminous hens" (51) and the "mushy toadstool" ( 5 5 ) . As i n the Inferno, the way i s "down" ( 6 2 ) . The " p i t " (69) and the "sewer" (72) suggest the "pozzo" (Inf. 3 1 . 3 2 ) ["well;" Seesspool"] i n which h e l l ' s giants are chained. In the Inferno one of these giants acts as a ladder, f a c i l i t a t i n g Dante's way to the nethermost region of h e l l , an image conveyed i n the l i n e "the fingers of the ladder hooked over the parapet" ( 7 0 ) . The giant carries Dante down to the frozen lake of Cocytus, which i s suggested by the " a r c t i c flowers." The poem ends with complete negation. There i s no transcendence for the narrator. Unlike Dante he does not emerge from h e l l to see the st a r s . He has only t r a v e l l -ed i n a c i r c l e , and, as i n More Pricks than Kicks, the c i r c l e characterizes the unceasing motion that r e s u l t s i n no progress; t h i s i s the condition of h e l l . H e l l as present r e a l i t y i s again the theme i n "Mala-coda." Malacoda (Inf. 2 1 . 7 6 - 9 ; 23.141) i s the captain of the f i f t h bolgia's demon army, the "malebranche" (Inf. 2 1 . 3 7 ) [ l i t . " e v i l claws;" sing, "malabranca," c f . l i n e 7 ] . The demons are winged, hooved and have tails.("Malacoda" l i t e r a l l y means " e v i l tail'.'). Beckett's poem draws on a l l of these elements. "Thrice" (1), the number with which Dante was ob-sessed (as Beckett i s with thirteen) i s the number of duties that Malacoda, "the undertaker's man" (2) i s to perform* "to measure" ( 4 ) ; "to c o f f i n " ( 1 5 ) ; and "to cover" (19)« Malacoda, " i n c o r r u p t i b l e " (6) because com-ple t e l y corrupt, waits i n the appropriately named "vest-i b u l e " (Inf. 3)» There, out of respect, he "mutes his s i g n a l " (10) which he normally gives f u l l force. Dante relates that i n h e l l " e l l i avea del c u l fa t t o trombetta" (Inf. 21 .139) ["he hadramade a trumpet with his ass"]. Malacoda and his "assistant ungulata," "Scarmilion" (23) put the corpse i n the c o f f i n and cover i t . The assistant i s about to leave when Malacoda requests him to "stay Scarmilion stay stay" which i s almost a l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t i o n of Malacoda*s words i n the Inferno, "'Posa, posa, Scarmiglione!•" (Inf. 21 . 1 0 5 ) . Malacoda asks Scar-milion to "lay t h i s Huysum on the box" ( 2 4 ) ; i t i s an "imago" (25) or p o r t r a i t of the deceased. As such, i t i s the only part of the deceased to survive, just as the poem is the only remnant of the deceased's l i f e . L i f e survives as an "imago," a perfect state, only through a r t . F i n a l l y , the c o f f i n i s loaded onto the hearse, " a l l 44 aboard a l l souls / half-mast aye aye" (27-8). The hearse i s likened to Charon's boat (Inf. 3.127-9) which 44 Compare "Draff," More Pricks than Kicks, p. 185. f e r r i e s the souls across the Acheron into h e l l . The nau t i -c a l imagery also r e c a l l s the opening of Inferno 21, where Dante describes the dry-docked boats i n the Venice Arsenal. The f i n a l "nay" (29) indicates that death i s not the end i t i s thought to be, and herein l i e s the ultimate s i g n i f i -cance of the t i t l e . Death i s an " e v i l end" pre c i s e l y because i t does not o f f e r an end, but merely other voyages upon other seas. CHAPTER FOUR MURPHY 45 Beckett's f i r s t novel, Murphy, i s more Cartesian than Dantesque. As Belacqua Shuah was i n More Pricks  than Kicks, Murphy i s beset by the macrocosm, represented by Neary et a l , while he i s searching f o r the microcosmic state he c a l l s Ms "Belacqua fantasy" ( 7 8 ) . The novel i s motivated by the outerworld's attempt to f i n d Murphy and by Murphy's attempt to f i n d the inner world. The method Murphy uses to a t t a i n t h i s inner world i s recorded i n the f i r s t pages of the novel. Murphy i s "naked i n his rocking c h a i r " (1); by rocking f u r i o u s l y he hopes to deaden his body to a l l sense perception, making his mind autonomous. "For i t was not u n t i l his body was appeased that he could come a l i v e i n his mind" ( 2 ) , just as Belacqua had to eat his lunch before going to his 46 I t a l i a n lesson. Thus the only way Murphy can a t t a i n freedom i s by being lashed naked to a hard chair, and rock-ing himself nearly to death, a grimly i r o n i c version of the Florentine Belacqua's "sedendo et quiescendo." Into the serenity of t h i s l i f e walks C e l i a , who i s of the same profession as her Swiftian counterpart. Like •^Beckett, Murphy (New York* Grove Press, Inc., 1957). Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 46 Also l i k e Belacqua Shuah, Murphy "stigmatised work" ( 2 7 ) , f o r work i s tantamount to contact with the outer world, which Murphy i s bent on avoiding. the women i n More Pricks than Kicks, C e l i a represents the body, by which she l i t e r a l l y l i v e s . Paradoxically, C e l i a i s the novel's figure of Beatrice, as the "heavenly" connotation of her name suggests. As opposed to Beatrice who led Dante to a love outside time, C e l i a wants to lead Murphy to a love inside time. Murphy succumbs but refuses to marry or to get a job (Celia's condition) u n t i l the heavens are i n the ri g h t conjunction and so he has C e l i a obtain a (w)horoscope from Swami Suk. Murphy's concern with "checking the starry concave" ( 2 1 ) r e c a l l s both Dante's Belacqua, who must observe the heavens to ascertain when his s*ay i n the Antepurgatorio expires, and Belacqua Shuah, who however ignored signs from the outer world. Murphy and C e l i a are most alone together. Murphy asks C e l i a "'What do you love?' • . . 'Me as I am. You can want what does not exi s t , you can't love i t ' " ( 3 6 ) . Murphy exists only i n his mind, and C e l i a cannot love him there. She can only love the Murphy she does not know. Such a s i t u a t i o n reduces a l l love to that of customer and pr o s t i t u t e . In the new lodgings that Murphy and C e l i a take, C e l i a hopes to f i n d "the new l i f e " (64). For Murphy, however, the " v i t a nuova" can be achieved only i n his mind. "The only thing Murphy was seeking was what he haid not ceased to seek from the moment of his being strangled into a state of r e s p i r a t i o n — t h e best of himself" ( 7 0 - 1 ) . 51 Since Murphy's energy i s directed inward, i t i s no wonder that he f a i l s to make contact ( i n the form of a job) with the outer world. Distressed at his repeated f a i l u r e s i n the outer world, he ponders: At t h i s moment Murphy would w i l l i n g l y have waived his expectation of Antepurgatory f o r f i v e minutes i n his chair, renounced the lee of Belacqua*s rock and his embryonal repose, looking down at dawn a-cross the reeds [Purg. 1 . 1 3 0 - 6 ] to the trembling of the a u s t r a l sea and the sun obliquing to the north as i t rose, immune from expiation u n t i l he should have dreamed i t a l l through again, with the downright dreaming of an infant, from the sperm-arium to the crematorium. He thought so highly of t h i s post-mortem s i t u a t i o n , i t s advantages were present i n such d e t a i l to his mind, that he actually hoped he might l i v e to be old. Then he would have a long time l y i n g there dreaming, watching the day-spring run through i t s zodiac, before the t o i l up the h i l l to Paradise. The gradient was outrageous, one i n less than one. God grant no godly chandler would shorten his time fPurg. 4 . 1 3 3 - 5 ] with a good prayer. ( 7 7 - 8 ) "This was his Belacqua fantasy." It i s the state to which a l l of Beckett's characters aspire: l i v i n g t h e i r l i v e s on a wholly mental l e v e l , outside of time. Murphy hopes no one w i l l pray or l i g h t a candle f o r him when he i s i n his Antepurgatory, f o r that would only shorten his stay. Murphy's "Belacqua b l i s s " belongs to the second of his "three zones, l i g h t , h a l f l i g h t , dark, each with i t s s p e c i a l i t y " ( 1 1 1 ) . These zones are inversely analogous to Dante's three post-mortal states. In the zone of l i g h t , which f o r Dante was Paradise, "the pleasure was r e p r i s a l . " Light s i g n i f i e s and informs the outer world; i n th i s f i r s t zone, Murphy's thoughts are consciously directed outward. The second zone contains the "Belacqua b l i s s ; " "here the pleasure was contemplation," Murphy being able to choose what he wished to contemplate. The t h i r d zone i s "dark" (112); darkness excludes the outer world completely, and therefore Murphy can become a "mote i n the dark of ab-solute freedom," free of the necessity to choose, free because independent of meaning, a "matrix of surds." I t is i n t h i s t h i r d zone that Murphy seeks to spend most of his time. A l l three zones are subject to time, and Murphy s t i l l aspires to the condition of timelessness. His aspirations are thwarted, however, by his need f o r a job; he i s f i n -a l l y hired as an orderly i n an asylum, the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat. C e l i a i s s a t i s f i e d that Murphy has a job and Murphy i s s a t i s f i e d that i t i s an asylum, apart from the outer world. "The M.M.M. was a sanatorium, not a madhouse nor a home for defectives, and as such admitted only those cases whose prognoses were not hopeless" (60). Thus i t i s analogous to Purgatory; i t i s neither the outer world nor the inner world, but a way between them. Just as C e l i a i s completely subject to her body, so the insane are subject to t h e i r minds, as s i g n i f i e d by Mr. Endon, whose name i s Greek f o r "within." Murphy i s i n his element. Yet the outer world continues to force i t s e l f upon him. C e l i a , Neary et a l converge on him. Alone i n his cubby-hole at the M.M.M., Murphy raises his eyes to "the 47 star l e s s sky" ( 2 5 1 ) . The sky i s outside Murphy's mind, and therefore promises no transcendence. Murphy's fate rests upon the handle of a t o i l e t (a d i f f e r e n t type of Suk); i t i s pulled and he i s blown to pieces, now l i t e r -a l l y a "mote" i n the darkness. Yet even a f t e r his death, the outer world conspires against him. The ashes which he had wanted flushed down the Abbey's t o i l e t end up on a bar room f l o o r . 47 Compare "Whoroscope," l i n e 9 8 * CHAPTER FIVE WATT 48 Watt, Beckett's l a s t English novel, shows at f i r s t glance the development of the novelist's a l l u s i v e tech-nique. Compared to the baroque c i t a t i o n s which character-ize More Pricks than Kicks, the s t y l e i n Watt i s one of evocation. Whereas Belacqua Shuah plays with words, Watt i s plagued by them. Watt i s p a r t i c u l a r l y important to our study because we have here f o r the f i r s t time Beckett's consistent use of Dantean elements as an i r o n i c framework. Not only has Beckett quoted Dante i n Watt, but he has also constructed his novel so as to present an ir o n i c p a r a l l e l to the t h i r d of the Commedia's post-mortal states. In t h i s sense, Watt i s a "parodyso." Watt i s f i r s t seen "setting out on a journey" (15)j so begin the Dantean p a r a l l e l s . Watt, as we soon discover, i s the avatar of "what." He questions everything, he analyzes everything—his smile, frog croaks, his s p i t t l e (for which purpose he c a r r i e s a portable spittoon), even nothing. For God i s no longer the source of l i f e ' s mean-ing as He was i n Dante's cosmos. God, i f not dead, i s as manifest as Godot. He i s represented as "a c i r c l e , • . . broken at i t s lowest point" (126) with a dot not quite i n 48 Beckett, Watt, 2nd ed. (1953? r p t . Londoni Calder and Boyars, 1972""u Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. the center, a l l u d i n g i r o n i c a l l y to the c l a s s i c a l repre-sentation of God as "a sphere of which the center i s 4-9 everywhere and the circumference i s nowhere." The continuity of meaning has "been interrupted, and meaning must be obtained from another source, s p e c i f i c a l l y through the individual's a b i l i t y to reason as exercised through words. Watt, having made a virtue out of necessity, i s a r a t i o n a l i s t . His method i s to enumerate a l l l o g i c a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s of a given problem; his object i s to f i n d , by means of the words he uses, the answer to the problem, or i n a larger sense the t r u t h . By d e f i n i t i o n , Watt must apply his method to every stimulus he receives: the r e s u l t i s chaos. Wat does not decipher, he enciphers. Since Watt exists only i n his mind (the legacy of the cogito) i t i s as i f his body were a detached e n t i t y — witness his "walk" (28). When not walking, he i s some-times found i n the Belacqua po s i t i o n , "his knees drawn up, and his arms on his knees, and his head on his arms" ( 3 1 ) , i n d i c a t i n g that he, l i k e Beckett's other characters, desires to return to a prenatal existence. On his way to Knott's Watt proceeds to the t r a i n s t a t i o n , where he 49 Georges Poulet, "The Metamorphoses of the C i r c l e , " i n Dante i A C o l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l Essays (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 19o"f>)» P« 151* See also J . L. Borges, "Pascal's Sphere," Other Inquisitions, pp. 5-8. 56 bumped into a porter wheeling a milkcan. . . . The porter did not f a l l , but he l e t go his can, which f e l l back with a thump on i t s t i l t e d rim. . . . On the platform the porter continued to wheel cans, up and down. At one end of the platform there was one group of cans, and at the other end there was another. The porter chose with care a can i n one group and wheeled i t to the other. Then he chose with care a can i n the other and wheeled i t to the one. He i s sort i n g the cans said Watt. Or^perhaps i t i s a punishment for disobedience, or some neglect of duty. (22, 24) Watt's l a s t guess i s correct, f o r the porter mirrors the punishment meted out to the avaricious and prodigal i n the fourth c i r c l e of the Infernos Qui v i d i gente piu ch'altrove troppa, e d'una parte e d ' a l t r a , con grand'urli, r:\voltando pesi per forza d i poppa. ^  Percoteansi incontro; e poscia pur l i s i rivolgea ciascun, voltando a r e t r o . (Inf. 7 .25-9) [Here I saw more people than anywhere else; and on one side and the other, howling, they were r o l l i n g weights with t h e i r chests. They would meet with a bang; then each would turn around and r o l l his weight back again.] Here the a l l u s i o n serves primarily to i d e n t i f y Watt with Dante the pilgrim, and to indicate that h e l l i s now; disobedient or not, we are punished. The f u l l s i g n i f i -cance of the a l l u s i o n i s brought out at the end of the novel. The motif of paths and ditches, evocative of the In-ferno occurs throughout the f i r s t part of the book. Watt journeys " i n the middle of the road" (34)—"nel mezzo del cammin" (Inf. 1 .1) From the road Watt can glimpse "Mr. Knott's house . . . i n the l i g h t , of the moon." Dante too glimpses Paradise from the middle of the road (Inf. 1.16-18); i r o n i c a l l y the Paradise of Knott i s "bathed not i n the l i g h t of the sun, but i n the a r t i f i c i a l 50 l i g h t of the moon, which image prefigures the i l l u s o r y nature of Knott's paradise, and, concurrently, of a l l knowledge. "Watt never knew how he got into Mr. Knott's house" ( 3 5 ). So Dante, when he found himself i n the "selva oscura"« "Io non so ben r i d i r com'io v ' e n t r a i " (Inf. 1 . 10) ["I cannot t e l l how I entered there"]. The a l l u s i o n i s i r o n i c i Knott's, which at f i r s t seems para-d i s a l to Watt, w i l l f i n a l l y be revealed as h e l l . Upon entering Knott's house, Watt i s treated to a 51 short statement of epic proportion, spoken by Arsene. In t h i s speech Arsene both encapsulates his own condition and predicts i t of Watt. He speaks of Watt as having put "the dark ways a l l behind" ( c f . Purg. 1 . 4 4 - 5 ) , which are the ways of h e l l , and as "waiting f o r the dawn to break," the dawn of the purgatory that leads to paradise. Arsene* "*°Aldo T a g l i a f e r r i i n Beckett e l'iperdeterminazione  l e t t e r a r i a (Milanot F e l t r i n e l l i , 196*7) notes that accord-ing to Bruno, i n whom we have already noted Beckett's i n t e r e s t , the moon represents the speculative i n t e l l e c t . J H. Porter Abbott, i n F i c t i o n of Samuel Beckett (Berkeley- University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1973)* p. 6 9 , states that " I f Spiro i s Watt's V i r g i l , Arsene i s his Beatrice." I f Arsene i s Watt's Beatrice, Watt i s Ser Brunette 58 speech i s punctuated hy his h i t t e r "Haw!" for he knows that the way through Knott's leads only into further dark-ness, and that there i s no difference between heaven and h e l l . For the more one knows Knott ("nought") the less one knows, and to know absolutely everything—such are the terms of the Paradiso—one must know absolutely no-thing « "to do nothing exclusively would be an act of the highest value" ( 39 )• Yet Watt per s i s t s i n his attempts to know, to assign meaning to a l l that he perceives. After a l l u d i n g to the "dark ways," which feeesays Watt has put behind him, Arsene likens Watt's present, innocent state to that of "a face offered, a l l t r u s t and innocence and candour, a l l the old s o i l and fear and weakness offered, to be sponged away and forgiven!" ( 3 8 ) . Such i s Dante's face a f t e r he emerges from Inferno to the shores of Purgatory i porsi ver l u i [ V i r g i l i o ] l e guance lacrimose: i v i mi fece tutto discoverto quel color che 1 'inferno mi nascose. (Purg. 1 .127-9 ) [ i offered to him [ V i r g i l ] my tear-stained cheeks; there he c l e a r l y revealed that complexion which h e l l had hidden]. Again the a l l u s i o n i s i r o n i c ; Watt w i l l not be forgiven* he i s damned by his need to know. Like Arsene when he f i r s t entered Knott's, Watt i s "middle-aged" ( 3 8 ) , as was Dante when he made his journey. Middle-age was the time when Dante questioned a l l things, including the nature of his own existence; i t was a time when he had to f i n d meaning i n his universe. So Watt. Dante, however, transcended t h i s stage; Watt, by the end of the novel, i s even more confused i n his endeavours to learn something of Knott. Those who try to understand Knott are punished i n the same way as the sorcerers i n the fourth chasm of male-bolge. Vincent, Walter, Erskine and Arsene are described as having "a l i t t l e f a t bottom s t i c k i n g out i n front and a l i t t l e f a t b e l l y s t i c k i n g out behind" ( 5 7 ) . This i s equivalent to the punishment a l l o t t e d to those who attempt ed to see into the ways of Godi Come *1 viso mi scese i n l o r piu basso, mirabilmente apparve esser travolto ciascun t r a *1 mento e M p r i n c i p i o del casso; che dalle r e n i era tornato i l volto, ed in^dietro venir l i convenia, perche '1 veder dinanzi era l o r t o l t o . [Lowering my gaze upon them, I found them to be t e r r i b l y twisted between the chin and the beginning of the chest, such that the face was turned toward the back, and they had to walk backward since they could not look forward.] Watt's fan t a s t i c way of walking i s a mutation of the i n -f e r n a l i n f l i c t i o n . He and the others are punished not for t r y i n g to look into the future, but f o r t r y i n g to understand the present. Both are equally as vain, as Beckett indicated i n "Whoroscope." (Inf. 2 0 . 1 0 - 1 5 ) 60 The Mr. Knott Watt i s t r y i n g to understand i s de-scribed i n terms of the deity. He "neither comes nor goes . . . but seems to abide i n his place" (56); he has beings "about [him] i n t i r e l e s s a ssiduity turning" ( 6 0 ) ; "eternally turning about [him] i n t i r e l e s s love" (61), just as the blessed revolve around God i n the Paradiso. Furthermore, Watt obtains the impression that "nothing could be added to Mr. Knott*s establishment, and from i t nothing taken away, but that as i t was now, so i t had been i n the beginning, and so i t would remain i n the end" (129). Arsene explains to Watt that any attempt to know "the unutterable or ineffable . . . i s doomed to f a i l " (61). Dante experienced s i m i l a r f r u s t r a t i o n i n his attempt to know God. The point Beckett i s making i s that our know-ledge of individuals i s as d i f f i c u l t to obtain as was the knowledge of God f o r Dante. As he says i n Proust, "we cannot know and we cannot be known" (49). Arsene concludes his discourse by t e l l i n g Watt that he w i l l "go by [ h i s ] side" (62) f o r a while, a combination of Knowledge and Dante's V i r g i l , and then Watt must t r a v e l alone, "with only shades to keep [him] company." While i t i s true that V i r g i l leaves Dante at the inception of the voyage to Paradise, he i s replaced by Beatrice. Noil-Beatrice comes to Watt, however, f o r his world w i l l not be redeemed. 61 Watt begins his service at Knott's on the ground f l o o r . He i s constantly confronted with meaningless events, and i s obliged, "because of his peculiar character, to enquire into what . . . they might be induced to mean" ( 7 2 ) . Watt goes on« "For the only way one can speak of nothing ["nought" / Knott] i s to speak of i t as though i t were somehting" (74), just as one can express the didea of zero only when a numeri-c a l system precedes i t . Watt's predicament of having to assign things a meaning by using words i s aggravated by the fa c t that the ordering p r i n c i p l e of his l i f e i s Knott/ "nought0.*" Here, then, i s the s i t u a t i o n facing the charac-ters of the trilogy« the words (something) which one must use to assign meaning (to nothing) obscure the meaning sought a f t e r , and create one of t h e i r own. Such a s i t u a t i o n has curious analogues i n the doctrine nomina sunt consequentia rerum, that the essence of a 52 thing i s s i g n i f i e d by the word that designates i t . Thus, any given object has a name expressive of i t s inherent quality: any attempt to name i t otherwise would be meaning-l e s s . Watt i s e x p l i c i t l y confronted by t h i s s i t u a t i o n when he attempts to name a pot (78-80). Another factor complicating his dilemma i s that he cannot see words as symbols, as pointing beyond themselves: 52 Dante quotes t h i s formula i n V i t a Nuova 13, and alludes to i t i n V i t a Nuova 24 and Par. 12.81. For possible sources of thi s doctrine see Leonardo Olschki, The Myth of Felt(Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1949). p. 5 1 . 62 Watt . . . had not seen a symbol, nor executed an interpretation, since the age of fourteen . . . and . . . had l i v e d , miserably i t i s true, among face values a l l his adult l i f e . (70) He i s only aware of the words themselves. The word, and not The Word, i s i n control. While at Knott's, Watt functions as cook. Of course, he must question every aspect of t h i s task; t h i s question-ing assumes absurd proportions i n the elaborate preprations made to ensure that Knott's scraps would be eaten by a dog. Watt's r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s have as t h e i r object the complete elimination of chance, for i t i s especially the i r r a t i o n a l which indicates to Watt just how impotent i s his reason, and since he l i v e s only i n his mind, to doubt his reason is to doubt himself. The i r r a t i o n a l , however, cannot be eliminated, for i t i s the p r i n c i p l e upon which the Knott household i s run. Given t h i s s i t u a t i o n , Watt's attempt to f i n d meaning i s absurd. Watt believes that he w i l l be able to understand Knott by looking him i n the face, as Dante saw the mys-te r i e s of creation c l a r i f i e d i n the face of God. Yet t h i s i s to no a v a i l , and " l i t t l e by l i t t l e Watt abandoned a l l hope, a l l fear, of ever seeing Mr. Knott face to face" (145). This a l l u s i o n to the words that appear over the gates of h e l l , "Lasciate ogni speranza" (Inf. 3*9) ["Aban-don a l l hope"], indicates precisely where Watt's attempts to know have led him. In the t h i r d part of the novel (which takes place a f t e r the fourth) we f i n d Watt i n an asylum with his f r i e n d Sam, who i s transcribing Watt's story. The environs of the asylum resemble the "selva o scura"—"thickets rose at every turn, brakes of impenetrable density" ( 153)• In the asylum Sam observes Watt "advancing backwards" ( 1 5 7 ) . l i k e the sorcerers alluded to e a r l i e r , thereby following i n the t r a d i t i o n of Arsene et a l . His backward ambulation also r e c a l l s the prayer of the Proud i n Purgatory, who say: Da oggi a noi l a cotidiana manna, sanza l a qual per questo aspro diserto a retro va chi piu d i g i r s'affanna. (Purg. 1 1 . 1 3 - 1 5 ) [Give us t h i s day our dai l y manna, without which he goes backward through t h i s harsh desert who s t r i v e s most to go forward.] It i s precisely t h i s "manna," the grace to accept the i r r a t i o n a l on f a i t h , that Watt lacks. Words are the only things standing between Watt and meaning, yet they are the only means he has to f i n d mean-ing. I f he could deprive them of t h e i r own meaning, they would say what he wants them to say. He t r i e s to rob them of meaning by inverting the l e t t e r s i n his words, then by speaking his sentences i n reverse order. I r o n i c a l l y , he comes closest to the paradisal state of knowing Knott/ "nought" here i n the dark wood of the asylum. In the fourth and f i n a l part of the novel, we see Watt i n his f i n a l days at Knott's, before he goes to the asylum. He has learned nothing of Knott, not r e a l i z i n g that t h i s i s a l l he can know, and so i s s t i l l " i n the middle of the road" ( 2 2 2 ) . His p o s i t i o n i s s t a t i c , for man cannot know. He again travels through an iiSfemal landscape toward the t r a i n which, l i k e Charon's boat (Inf. 3 . 9 4 ) , w i l l ferry him to the asylum. His l i f e at Knott's has been circumscribed by Beckett's words i n Proust: " L i f e i s a succession of Paradises successively denied" ( 2 6 ) . It i s i n the Addenda that Beckett quotes from Dante. The aptness of the a l l u s i o n t e s t i f i e s again to Beckett's great f a m i l i a r i t y with the Commedia. The words Beckett quotes, "parole non c i appulcro" (255)» occur i n Inferno 7, to which Beckett alluded at the opening of the novel. By t h i s a l l u s i o n , Watt i s brought f u l l c i r c l e . The image of the c i r c l e i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t ; i t has a dir e c t c o r r e l a t i v e i n the c i r c l e s i n which Dante's damned wander, and as such unites the ideas of motion and s t a s i s which inform Beckett's work. In Inferno 7# V i r g i l points out on one side the a v a r i -cious and on the other the prodigal, then explains: Mai dare e mal tener lo mondo pulcro ha t o l t o l o r o , e p o s t i a questa zuffa: qual e l l a s i a , parole non c i appulcro. (Inf. 7 . 5 8 - 6 0 ) [Avarice and pro d i g a l i t y robbed them of the beauti-f u l world, and set them at t h i s s t r i f e * as to what that i s , words add nothing.] That words convey a meaning d i s t i n c t from the one perceived i s one of the major themes of Watt. What makes t h i s a l l u s i o n so apt i s that Dante had to coin the word "appul-c r a r e M ("to make beautiful* 1" the l i n e means l i t e r a l l y , "as to what that i s , I w i l l not embellish i t with words") i n order to indicate that words were superfluous. The con-cern with the tyranny of words expressed i n Watt, the use of the Dantesque cosmology as an i r o n i c framework and the evocative s t y l e a l l prefigure the t r i l o g y , where Beckett achieves not only a greater concentration of content, but a concurrent development i n form. CHAPTER SIX MORAN Beckett used Dante's three post-mortal states as an i r o n i c frame of reference i n Watt, and as such that novel 53 precurses his use of Dante i n the Three Novels. For, i n one sense, Molloy i s i n f e r n a l , Malone Dies purgatorial, and The Unnamable paradisal. Yet the progression implied by such a p a r a l l e l does not exist i n the novels. The Unnamable i s lfo further along the road than Moran. Actually, Beckett uses the Commedia i n the t r i l o g y i n three wayss f i r s t , as an i r o n i c frame of reference for his own work; second, inversely, to represent the regression into h e l l ; t h i r d , as the exegetical predecessor of his own set of interpretive l e v e l s . Certainly one of the major reasons Beckett chose the Commedia as his a r t i s t i c frame i s that i t i s the c l a s s i c -a l paradigm of s p i r i t u a l refinement, and as Beckett states i n Proust, refinement i s the task of the a r t i s t , who must search out "the i d e a l core of the onion" (16). But Beckett bears other a f f i n i t i e s with the writer of the Commedia. Dante and Beckett are both r e l i g i o u s writers, and each seeks to construct a system i n which the s e l f w i l l have meaning; i n which the s e l f w i l l be at the center, l i k e Hamm 53 Beckett, Three Novels (New Yorkt Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 6 5 ) . Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 67 who must he precisely i n the center of his room or Molloy who "sought refuge near the centre" ( 1 1 3 ) . For Dante, meaning was found i n f i n a l causes, and there could be f i n a l i t y because there was a God who was both alpha and omega, a God of whom man was the r e f l e c t i o n . In Beckett, there i s no f i n a l cause; his characters, l i k e Hamm and Clov, cannot make an end. Molloy states the dilemma of these characters pre c i s e l y . " I f I speak of p r i n c i p l e s , when there are none, I can't help i t , there must be some somewhere" ( 4 6 ) . There are no p r i n c i p l e s , says Molloy, yet recognizes that there must be some order, some standard, i f he i s to have meaning. In the same way, Beckett's t r i l o g y depends for i t s existence upon the standards which i t denies. The t r i l o g y i s both Beckett's commentary on the f a i l u r e of Dante's system to provide meaning fo r contemporary man, and a testament to Ihis i n a b i l i t y to detach himself from that system. For i t i s the order and structure of Dante's system that gives meaning to Beckett's own. We have seen how the Dantean structure contained i n the Belacqua episode (Purgs.4) i s p a r t i c u l a r l y important i n Beckett's thought. Another major debt to Dante i s revealed i n the t r i l o g y (and l a t e r works) where the atmosphere evoked i s that of the t h i r d canto of the Inferno, and p a r t i c u l a r l y the passage which describes those i n the vestibule of b e l l i 68 'Questo misero modo tengon l'anime t r i s t e d i coloro che v i s s e r sanza infamia e sanza lodo. Mischiate sono a quel catt i v o coro d e l l i angeli che non furon r i b e l l i ne f u r f e d e l i a Dio, ma per se foro. Caccianli i c i e l per non esser men b e l l i , ne lo profondo inferno l i riceve, ch'alcuna g l o r i a i r e i avrebber d ' e l l i . ' E io« "Maestro, che e tanto gr§ve a l o r , che@lamentar l i f a s i forte?* Rispuosej ' D i c e r o l t i molto breve. Questi non hanno speranza d i morte, e l a l o r cieca v i t a e tanto bassa, c h ' i n v i d i o s i son d'ogni a l t r a sorte. Fama, d i loro i l mondo esser non lassa; misericordia e g i u s t i z i a l i sdegna: non ragioniam d i l o r , ma guarda e passa.' (Inf. 3.34-5D [•This i s the miserable fate meted out to the sad souls of those who l i v e d unworthy of infamy or praise. Mixed with them i s that despicable group of angels who were neither f o r r e b e l l i o n nor fo r God but f o r themselves. Heaven expelled them, so as not to blemish i t s beauty; the i n f e r n a l depths s h a l l not receive them, for the damned might glory i n them.• And 11 •Master, what causes them such g r i e f that they cry so much?' He replied« 'I w i l l t e l l you b r i e f l y . These have no hope of death, and t h e i r b l i n d l i f e i s so low that they envy every other fate. They have no name i n the world; mercy and ju s t i c e scorn them. We w i l l not speak of them: look and pass on.'] Those who would place the t r i l o g y ' s characters i n Purgatory forget Beckett's statement that i n Purgatory there i s "ab-54 solute progression and a guaranteed consummation^" that "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," p. 22 "movement i s u n i d i r e c t i o n a l , and a step forward represents a net advance." There i s no progression, there i s no consummation, there i s no advance i n the world of the rtrTlqgy. Theirs i s the world of the antinferno, the Vestibule of h e l l , which i s not Purgatory, nor Heaven, nor H e l l . We begin our study of the t r i l o g y with what purports to be the most l i t e r a l of the four monologues; Moran's "report" (92). Moran's world has the addit i o n a l a t t r a c -t i o n , for our purposes, of being the closest to the Dantean one. Moran i s a Catholic who attends ch:urch regularly, has a respectable home l i f e and i s g a i n f u l l y employed. Oi?der and normality are the operative words. This orderly l i f e i s doomed at the f i r s t mention of Molloy, whom Moran i s ordered to f i n d . Moran's search i s directed toward the "outer world" ( 1 1 4 ) , whereas Molloy's i s directed toward the inner world; the motion of t h e i r journey(s) i s repeated by the Unnamable ( 316-317) where i t becomes clear that the c e n t r i p e t a l and c e n t r i f u g a l actions s i g n i f y that the quest for the s e l f i s an i n f i n i t e one. Moran's search for Molloy i s paradigmatic of Molloy*s, Malone's and the Unnamable*s search f o r the s e l f . Moran's search i s i n i t i a t e d by Gaber (Gabriel), messenger of Youdi (Diy.ou; Dieu), who arrives as Moran s i t s complacently i n his backyard, surrounded by his possessions, watching his bees. Gaber's message i s that Moran must f i n d Molloy, that he i s the only one f o r the job, and that his son Jacques J r . must accompany him. Moran soon reveals himself as being paranoidJ he thinks both his son and Martha spy on him, he worries about the e f f e c t of beer on the eucharist, he fears his cook w i l l poison him, he thinks his neighbours hate him and c a l l him a "bastard" (97) behind his back. He i s also a man of habit, and he gives over much of his time to "prolonged r e f l e c t i o n " (98). Moran i s confident i n his a b i l i t y to reason and to know. In his own l i t t l e world, he knows a l l and i s the chief of a l l , giving orders, meting out punishment, sending people here and there. He is to his own world what Youdi i s to the outer world. Molloy changes a l l t h i s . After learning of his assignment, the eucharist brings Moran "no r e l i e f " (102), he finds his dinner has "gone to nothing," Martha mocks him, he feels his " l i f e [ i s ] running out," the sunshine has turned to r a i n . "I was floundering" (105) says Moran. "I so s l y as a r u l e . " Moran could of course disregard Youdi*s order, yet to do without Youdi i s tantamount to "regarding [himself] as s o l e l y responsible f o r [ h i s ] wretched existence" (107), and Moran cannot face t h i s . C l e a r l y , the b e l i e f i n Youdi/Diyou i s a habit; i t i s Moran's "guarantee of a d u l l i n v i o l a b i l i t y . " " ^ And l i k e ^ P r o u s t , p. 8. 56 a l l habits i t serves to mask "the su f f e r i n g of being." God, who was i n Dante's cosmos the source of being i s here that which v e i l s being. Moran ponders his fate i n the dark of his room, and, as i n Murphy, the dark i s the way into the micro-cosm, where meaning i s to be found. For i n the outer world a l l "sensations" are " i l l u s o r y " ( 1 1 1 ) and " i t i s thanks to them [Moran] f i n d [ s ] himself a meaning"—for an i l l u s o r y meaning i s better than none at a l l , and i n the macrocosm "no investigation would be possible" ( 1 1 1 ) . However, i t i s i n the microcosm that "the prey i s lodged" ( 1 1 0 ) ; the prey i s Molloy, of whom Moran posit s , "perhaps I had invented him, I mean found him ready made i n my head" ( 1 1 2 ) . MoEan's search for Molloy i s i n effect a search through his own mind f o r a meaning that i s not i l l u s o r y . "For who could have spoken to me of Molloy i f not myself and to whom i f not to myself could I have spoken of him?" ( 1 1 2 ) . MoM'oy i s the i r r a t i o n a l side of Moran; as Moran says, "Just the opposite of myself" ( 1 1 3 ) . Molloy i s l i k e 56 Proust, p. 8. -'"'There i s a curious a l l u s i o n to the De Vulgari E l o -quentia i n Moran's musings on the second s y l l a b l e of Mol-loy* s name, "which might have been oy . . . or even oc" ( ( 1 1 2 ) . Dante speaks of the languages of "oc" and " o i l . " A. G. F. Howell notes, "Oc equals L a t i n hoc ( t h i s ) ; o i l results from the combination of affirmative hoc with i l l e (he)." See A Translation of the Lat i n Works, note to l i n e 4 3 , page 2 3 . an animal, a "bear," according to Moran. Because Molloy i s part of Moran, they t r a v e l the same ground and a r r i v e at the same point, but do not recognize i t as the same, for "paths look d i f f e r e n t , when you go back along them" ( 1 6 5 ) . Their perspectives are completely opposite, Mol-loy i r r a t i o n a l and of the inner world, Moran "patiently turned toward the outer world" (114), "reigning back his thoughts within the l i m i t s of the c a l c u l a b l e . " There are two other aspects to Moran's search f o r Molloy, besides that oftthe Dantean search f o r the s e l f . The f i r s t i s that of the a r t i s t ' s descent into the s e l f i n the process of a r t i s t i c creationi The a r t i s t i c tendency i s not expansive, but a con-t r a c t i o n . . . . The only f e r t i l e research i s ex-cavatory, immersive, a contraction of the s p i r i t , a descent. The a r t i s t i s active, but negatively, shrinking from the n u l l i t y of extracircumferential phenomena. (Proust, 47-8) In turning his back on "his house" (114), "his garden," "his few poor possessions," Moran i s shrinking from the outertvworld. He undertakes t h i s a c t i v i t y "neither for Molloy," for i t does not placate his i r r a t i o n a l side, "nor for [ h i m s e l f ] , " f o r the descent into the s e l f i n -creases s u f f e r i n g of being (witness the Inferno), but on behalf of a cause which, while having need of us to be accomplished, was i n i t s essence anonymous, and would subsist, haunting the minds of men, when i t s miserable artisans should be no more. (114-115) 73 The search f o r the s e l f i s epitomized by the a r t i s t i c process, which form i t takes i n the Commedia, and i t i s th i s form the search takes throughout the t r i l o g y . The second aspect i s Molloy's status as "fabulous being" (111), as chimera, as "denizen of . . . dark places" (114). The search for Molloy i s i n t h i s sense analogous to the mythic quest, such as that of Odysseus, or as Aldo T a g l i a f e r r i suggests, that of Actaeon, who became, a f t e r spying on Diana, that which he had been hunting, 58 a fate s i m i l a r to Moran's. The three aspects of Moran's search f o r Molloy, which are the search for the s e l f , the a r t i s t i c descent, and the quest for a fabulous being, are united by the Dantean motif. Dante's voyage i s above a l l the search for the true s e l f , f o r the Godhead i n which the s e l f i s perfected. The descent into the inferno i s the a r t i s t i c descent into the s e l f , revelatory of the s u f f e r i n g of being and c a t a l y s -ed by the presence of V i r g i l , symbol of poetry. And the pagan paradigms of Dante's quest are those of Odysseus and of Jason. "I t was then the unheard of sight was to be seen of Moran making ready to go without knowing where he was going" (124). Whereas Dante's quest f o r meaning was conducted i n a highly ordered way, Moran's search i s 58 T a g l i a f e r r i , Beckett e l'iperdeterminazione l e t -t e r a r i a , p. 30 f f . Hereafter c i t e d as Beckett . . . . through unmapped t e r r a i n and he has no one to guide him. He and his son begin t h e i r journey i n a "wood" (127) that i s "dark"—Dante's Sselva oscura." There they turn " l e f t " (128), as those i n h e l l do, and there they lose "the r i g h t road"--«la d i r i t t a v i a " (Inf. 1.3). Moran i s f e a r f u l of l o s i n g his son i n t h i s forest, and considers tying Jacques J r . to himself, l i k e Lucky to Pozzo. Jacques J r . i s compelled by Moran just as Moran i s com-pelled by Gaber, who i s compelled by Youdi, none of them knowing what he i s doing. The t e r r a i n through which Moran and his son t r a v e l , "the Molloy country" (133)» i s i n f e r n a l , reminiscent of that through which Watt t r a v e l l e d to Knott's. Like those who course through h e l l , Moran fe e l s "as i f [he] were dead" (135)» and l i k e a l l of Beckett's characters, the Belacqua pos i t i o n , "legs i n . . . arms" and "chin on . . . knees" (136) comes naturally to him. Like Belacqua, Moran yearns "to be l i t e r a l l y incapable of motion" with "just enough brain intact to allow [him] to exult" (140). Alone i n the dark wood, his son having l e f t to pure-chase a b i c y c l e , Moran i s accosted by a man wearing a heavy coat and carrying a massive club. "His accent was that of . . . one who had l o s t the habit of speech" (146), l i k e V i r g i l , "chi per lungo s i l e n z i o parea f i o c o " (Inf. I . 6 3 ) ["whose voice through long silence appeared weak"], when he accosts Dante i n the dark wood. But t h i s intruder 75 does not guide Moran to the l i g h t , he giv§s no s p i r i t u a l guidance to Moran, whose world i s i n ruins t And what I saw was more l i k e a crumbling, a frenzied collapsing of a l l that had always protected me from a l l I was always condemned to be. Or i t was l i k e a kind of clawing towards a l i g h t and countenance I could not name, that I had once known and long denied. (148) Moran's world i s i n ruins because he i s no longer subject to the habits he had developed i n society. Here he i s confronted with the i r r a t i o n a l i t y , the unaccountability, of his own being, for which he must f i n d a shape. He i s i n the s p i r i t u a l condition of Dante, who, from the dark wood could see the "raggi del pianeta / che mena d r i t t o a l t r u i per ogni c a l l e " (Inf. 1 . 17 -18 ) ["the rays of the planet that best guides men on every road"] but was him-s e l f powerless to move u n t i l helped by the w i l l of God, operating through V i r g i l . For Moran, however, the Other, when he does a r r i v e , i s only a source of torment. The next man Moran meets he beats to "a pulp" ( 1 5 1 ) • F i n a l l y Moran's son returns with a bicycle on which they set off "downhill" (157)» toward home, encountering "fiends," " f u r i e s " (166 ; c f . | i f . 9 -38) and "phantoms of the dead;" t r a v e l l i n g across " i c y [ c f . Inf. 3 2 - 3 4 ] , . . . muddy [ c f . Inf. 6 ] s o l i t u d e s " ( 1 6 8 ) , Abandoned by his son, Moran i s eventually found by Gaber, who relates Youdi's message* "Moran, Jacques, home, instanter" ( 1 6 3 ) . His actions w i l l e d by another, Moran crawls onward; l i k e Dante's Ulysses (also w i l l e d by another [ i n f . 26.l4l]$> he moves toward a di s s o l u t i o n that i s neither an end nor a beginning. As Moran says, "I knew that a l l was about to end, or to begin again, i t l i t t l e mattered which" ( 161) . While he crawls on, he asks himself questions, none of which he can answer. Confronted with the i r r a t i o n a l , Moran, l i k e Watt, r e a l i z e s the f u t i l i t y of knowledge* "I do not know, . . . i t i s too soon to know, I simply do not know, perhaps s h a l l never know" (105). He r e a l i z e s he i s not the f i r s t to have no answers, that there were the others, "Murphy, Watt" (168). His fate mirrors t h e i r own. While crawling along, Moran thinks above a l l of the dance of his bees, which "involved a great variety of figures and rhythms" (168). After a f u l l i nvestigation, Moran interprets t h i s dance to be "a system of signals,!* a language. Each figure i s modified by a hum, and by "the height at which the figure was executed" ( I 6 9 ) . Moran goes on. And I acquired the conviction that the selfsame figure, accompanied by the selfsame hum, did not mean at a l l the same thing at twelve feet from the ground as i t did at s i x . For the bees did not dance at any l e v e l , haphazard, but there were three or four l e v e l s , always the same, at which they danced. Moran i s obviously describing a system of communication. And i t i s not a simple system but operates on "three or four l e v e l s . " These three or four lev e l s correspond to 59 the a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l s i n the Commedia. In t h i s aspect, each monologue of the t r i l o g y relates the same events, but at d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of abstraction, as the l i t e r a l , a l l e g o r i c a l , moral and anagogical lev e l s represent the 60 same event successively abstracted i n the Commedia. There i s an a l l u s i o n i n Moran's discourse on his bees to the c l a s s i c defense of allegory i n the P a r a d i s e Although Moran admits he cannot understand the ultimate import of the bees' dance, he goes on to say, "I would never do my bees the wrong I had done my God, to whom I had been taught to ascribe my angers, fears, desires, and even my body" ( 1 6 9 ) . This r e c a l l s Beatrice's explana-t i o n to Dante of the presence of the souls i n the various 61 spheres when she has already t o l d him that a l l are with God i n the empyrean; they are arranged i n t h i s way so that Dante may more re a d i l y understand what he sees* Per questo l a S c r i t t u r a condescende a vostra fa c u l t a t e , e p i e d i e mano at t r i b u i s c e a Dio, ed a l t r o indende. (Par. 4 . 4 3 - 5 ) ^Suggested by T a g l i a f e r r i , Beckett • . 2 , pp. 121 f f . 60 See Dante's "Epistola 10, to Can Grande," i n A Trans-l a t i o n of the L a t i n Works, paragraph 7» PP* 3^7-8. 61 The souls are compared to bees, Par. 31*7• The bees are related s p e c i f i c a l l y to the human plane i n Moran's des-c r i p t i o n of his route as a "bee-line" (173). Note also "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," "the words dance" (14), and Molloy's narrative, "thought and f e e l i n g dance" (10). [ i n t h i s way the Scriptures accommodate your i n t e l l i -something e l s e . J 62 The ^trilogy i s a l l e g o r i c a l f i n that i t describes the unknown, but Real, i n terms of the known, but f i c t i o n a l . Or, i n Beckett's words, the "message of general s i g n i f i -cance" i s conveyed through "a fabulous form." " Thus, Dante writes of meeting a leopard i n a dark wood, where he means he was beset by l u s t i n his moral uncertainty. The material world f a m i l i a r to a l l implies the unfamiliar but r e a l s p i r i t u a l world. The abstraction of the material sense leads ultimately to the absolute s p i r i t u a l sense, wherein a l l meaning resides. Remove t h i s ultimate l e v e l and the abstraction progresses i n f i n i t e l y . The goal of allegory i s not i t s continuation, but i t s d i s s o l u t i o n ; the end of appearance and the beginning of r e a l i t y . Not only i s the ultimate l e v e l of abstraction absent i n Beckett's world, but the words used to s i g n i f y are not the slaves of the writers, but t h e i r masters. For i f there i s nothing to express, ultimately, then words (some-thing) detract from that meaning (nothing), and the more words used to express the nothing than which nothing i s more r e a l , the further away one gets from that r e a l i t y . 62 Frank Kermode was the f i r s t to c a l l Beckett an " a l l e g o r i s t , " i n "Samuel Beckett," Continuities (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1968, p. 174. "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," p. 12. hands to God, and meaning 6 3 7 9 64 Thus we have, as T a g l i a f e r r i notes, "A work i n regress." The words that obscure and the i n f i n i t e l e v e l s of abstrac-t i o n are the terms of the Beckettian inferno, an inferno which represents, however, the only possible d i r e c t i o n i n which the a r t i s t can move. As Moran says, " a l l language [ i s ] an excess of language" (116). Yet Moran must write; he has no choice, as he explains* " I f I submit to t h i s p a l t r y scrivening which i s not of my province, i t i s for reasons very d i f f e r e n t from those that might be supposed. I am s t i l l obeying orders" ( 1 3 1 ) . So Dante i s compelled to write J "'quel che vedi, / ri t o r n a t o d i l a , fa che tu s c r i v e ' " (Purg. 32.104-5) ["'write what you see, when you have returned there'"]. And so the souls i n h e l l are compelled to speak when questioned by Dante, the implica-tions of which Beckett explores dramatically i n Play and Not I. Moran's physical decline at the end of his journey mirrors the regression of his quest. His changed physical appearance suggests his modified inner being. The house he returns to i s wrecked, the garden a shambles, the bees and hens dead. As Moran has changed so has his world. Moran's journey ends where Molloy*s begins, i n the dark wood. Moran's quest and Molloy's are complementary* just 64 /-T a g l i a f e r r i , Beckett . . . , p. 26. Ruby Cohn, i n Back to Beckett (New Jersey* Princeton University Press, 1 9 7 3 ) * P» xv, states that Beckett has a c t u a l l y written a work of t h i s t i t l e . 80 as Moran's ends where Molloy's begins, so Molloy*s ends i n the room, where Moran's begins. Each travels toward the beginning of the other; neither makes an end. Toward the conclusion of his report, Moran relates that he i s "clearing out" ( 1 7 5 ) ; at the end of his narrative Molloy longs "to go back into the f o r e s t " ( 9 1 )• Together, t h e i r quests form a circularssystem, or, i n terms of the a l l e -g o r i c a l l e v e l s on which t h e i r narratives are written, Moran's quest prefigures a l l the others; i t i s t h e i r simulacrum. This eternal c i r c l i n g that admits of no progress, i n search of a s e l f that i s never found, i s precisely the condition of the vestibule of h e l l , where Dante represent-ed "the long drama of the people who wait to be that which 11 they are not yet, who struggle p a i n f u l l y in, the search f o r 65 themselves." After Moran fin i s h e s his report, he w i l l s t a r t o f f again, t h i s time on crutches, l i k e Molloy, searching for someone he w i l l never r e a l i z e i s himself. "And perhaps he thinks each journey i s the f i r s t . This would keep hope a l i v e , would i t not, h e l l i s h hope" ( 1 3 3 ) • 65 S i l v i o Pasquazi, "Antinferno,!' Enciclopedia Dantesca (Roma. I s t i t u t o Delia Enciclopedia I t a l i a n a , 1 9 7 0 ) , p. 3 0 2 . CHAPTER SEVEN MOLLOY Molloy*s narrative repeats many of the d e t a i l s found i n Moran*s report. Molloy*s written narrative i s c o l l e c t -ed hy a "man who comes every week" (7) on a "Sunday" (8), as Gaber came to Moran (cf. p. 175)» and t h i s man drinks too. Moran and Molloy dress s i m i l a r l y and they encounter s i m i l a r situations on t h e i r journeys, which are taken through a s i m i l a r l y i n f e r n a l landscape. "Similar," yet not exactly the same. The events are the same, but the perceiver i s di f f e r e n t * Molloy*s narrative i s Moran's at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of perception, and since each of the t r i l o g y ' s characters moves ever more deeply into the s e l f , closer to the essence of being, each of t h e i r narratives represents a greater l e v e l of abstraction than the preceding. Molloy's narrative begins at the end of his journey, as did Dante's, but without the transcendent self-knowledge that Dante achieved. In f a c t , Molloy*s s i t u a t i o n i s no better than h e l l . He i s " i n [ h i s ] mother's room" (7)» but, he says, "I don't know how I got there," echoing Dante i n the dark wood (and Watt i n Knott's)* "Io non so ben r i d i r com'io v ' e n t r a i " (Inf. 1.10) ["I cannot t e l l how I entered there"]. Molloy's condition i s that of the dark wood* he i s l o s t , he knows not how he got where he i s , nor why he went there. He only knows that he has re-gressed to his mother's room. 82 Like Moran, Molloy posits various levels to his narative* "This time, then once more I think, then per-haps a l a s t time" (8)—Molloy*s narrative, then Malone's, then the Unnamable's. Molloy i s compelled to write, l i k e Moran and the others. One of the f i r s t events he relates i s the meeting of A and C. G i s dressed i n a greatcoat, and car r i e s a "stout s t i c k " (10), corresponding to the character Moran meets i n the dark wood (p. 146). Molloy observes C from a po s i t i o n l i k e that which Belacqua occupied i n Antepurgatory* I was perched higher than the road's highest point and flattened what i s more against a rock the same colour as myself, that i s grey. The rock he probab-ly saw. He gazed around as i f to engrave the land-marks on his memory and must have seen the rock i n the shadow of which I crouched l i k e Belaqua [ s i c ] , or Sordello fPurg. 6 . 7 4 ] , I forget. (10) As i s t y p i c a l of Beckett's characters, Molloy i d e n t i f i e s with Belacqua (who also observed two strangers from the shadow of a rock). Sordello, described by Dante as "tutta i n se romita" (Purg. 6.72) ["completely self-absorbed"] also epitomizes that state of inner being aloof from the macrocosm and outside of time to which Beckett's characters 66 have aspired since Shuah. In a passageffrom the unpublished "Dream of F a i r to Middling Women" quoted by Lawrence E. Harvey i n Samuel  Beckett, p. 316, Beckett also alludes to Sordello and uses the phrase "raccolta a se" ["completely self-occupied"] to describe Sordello, which corresponds to Velutello's "tutta i n se r a c o l t a , " quoted by H. F. Cary, The V i s i o n of Dante, note to Purg. 6 . 7 2 , p. 2 2 3 . But Molloy i s not i n purgatorio; he i s i n h e l l , as the landscape indicates* "endless roads, sands [ i n f . 3; 15], . . . hogs [Inf . 6 ) ] " (12), "ramparts [ i n f . 8 ] , " "mud [ i n f . 7 ] " and "scum [ i n f . 1 8 ] " ( 1 4 ) . Of t h i s landscape, Molloy says, " i f i t happens that I speak of the stars i t i s by mistake" (15) for the " s t e l l e " are v i s i b l e only a f t e r one has exited from h e l l . There i s no e x i t from Molloy*s h e l l , for i t i s "within, a l l that inner space one never sees, the brain and heart and other caverns where thought and f e e l i n g dance t h e i r sabbath" ( 1 0 ) . Molloy*s h e l l i s 67 "issueless" (13). Since Molloy exists only i n his own mind, everything outside of i t represents a universe as vast as that of the epic cosmos. As he says, "the confines . . . of my body are as remote from me as were those of my region, i n the days of my splendour" ( 6 6 ) . The contents of Molloy*s pockets are as f a r from him and as mysterious 6 8 as was the primum mobile for Dante, and l i k e Dante, Molloy creates i n s i d i o u s l y complicated systems i n order to under-stand his universe—witness the sucking stone sequence ( 6 9 - 7 4 ) . When Molloy has occasion to speak of his clothes (part of the process, which Malone stretches to absurdity, Compare Lessness (Londoni Calder and Boyars, 1 9 7 0 ) , p. 7 » "Blacked out f a l l e n open four walls over backwards true refuge i s s u e l e s s . " Lessness draws on Inf. 1 4 , where the blasphemers against God are punished i n a desert of burning sand, on which they l i e prostrate. 6 8 In the same way, Malone comments on the great d i s -tance between himself and his feet ( 2 3 4 ) . 84 of naming the universe) he says he w i l l only discuss them f u l l y "when the time comes to draw up the inventory of [ h i s ] goods and possessions" (14); t h i s inventory i s the epic catalogue of a shrunken universe. In his h e l l , Molloy i s tormented by demons i n the 69 guise of policemen. He i s imprisoned, then mysteriously released, and continues "on [ h i s ] way, that way of which he knew nothing" ( 2 6 ) . "For I did not know i f i t was the ri g h t road" ( 3 0 ) says Molloy, just as for Dante " l a d i r i t t a v i a era smarrita" (Inf. 1 . 3 ) ["the r i g h t road was l o s t " ] . He reaches a "canal-bank" ( 2 6 ; c f . "Enueg IJ*" "the l i v i d canal") where he sees a "boatman" with a "long white beard" l i k e Charon, boatman for the damned. The r i g h t road f o r Molloy i s the one that leads to his mother; i r o n i c a l l y , i t i s the road through h e l l . On his way through t h i s h e l l i s h landscape, Molloy a r r i v e s at a c i t y l i k e Dis (Inf. 9 ff») which he cannot name— " i t ' s too d i f f i c u l t to say" ( 3 1 )» echoing Dante's horror of h e l l : "Quanto a d i r qual era e cosa dura" (Inf. 1 . 4 ) ["It i s hard to say how i t was"]. He cannot name the c i t y because i t has no meaning i f he himself has no meaning, as he intimates i n his next breath« "And even my sense of id e n t i t y was wrapped i n a namelessness often hard to pene-t r a t e . " (Here of course we have the Unnamable). Meaning resides only i n words« as Molloy states, " A l l I know i s ^Compare the C i v i c Guard i n "A Wet Night," More Pricks Than Kicks. what the words know." Yet that knowledge i s not r e a l but i l l u s o r y , for "saying i s inventing" ( 3 2 ) . In t h i s c i t y he cannot name, Molloy i s greeted by " a l l these feet and hands, stamping, clutching, clenched i n vain, these bawling mouths" (3^-5)» which r e c a l l s Dante description of those i n the vestibule of hell« Diverse lingue, o r r i b i l i f a v e l l e , parole d i dolore, accenti d ' i r a , voci a l t e e fioche, e suon d i man con e l l e (Inf. 3 . 2 5 - 7 ) [Strange speech, h o r r i b l e sayings, words of sorrow, angry shouts, voices both loud and f a i n t , and a sound l i k e hands clapping.] Here he runs over a dog, and i s saved from the attendant mob by a Mrs. Loy or Lousse. Lousse i s associated with the earth i n i t s posi t i v e and negative aspects—she buries the dog which Molloy ran over, and sows seeds on the grave She plys Molloy "with d e l i c a c i e s " (37)» washes him and clothes him. Her long discourses are b a s i c a l l y u n i n t e l l i -gible to Molloy, but he does come to understand that he may remain with her for the rest of his l i f e , i n t o t a l freedom. Although Molloy has previously stated that he has need of no one, he stays at Lousse's f o r "a year per-haps" ( 5 1 ) . The only reason Molloy can f i n d f o r t h i s sojourn against his w i l l i s that he was not at l i b e r t y to do otherwise. 86 Such reasoning goes counter to Molloy's idea of f r e e -dom, which he expresses hy the image of old Geulincx, . . . who l e f t [Molloy] free, on the black boat of Ulysses, to crawl towards the East, along the deck. That i s a great measure of freedom, f o r him who has not the pioneering s p i r i t . And from the poop, poring upon the wave, a sadly r e j o i c i n g slave, I follow with my eyes the proud and f u t i l e wake. Which, as i t bears me from no fatherland away, bears me onward to no shipwreck. (51) The a l l u s i o n to "Ulysses" and "shipwreck" f K ) r e c a l l s Dante's version of Ulysses' l a s t voyage (Inf. 2 6 ) , where, s a i l i n g West, the Greek suffers shipwreck i n sight of Mount Purga-tory. The westward movement of the ship renders even more i r n o i c a l Molloy's eastward movement of "freedom," which i s in fact a savagely i r o n i c a l reduction of Dante's " l i b e r i soggiacete" (Purg. 1 6 . 8 0 ) ["free subjects"]. Ulysses* '""Shipwreck" i s also an a l l u s i o n to Leopardi's poem " L * i n f i n i t o , " i n which the poet describes the shipwreck of his thoughts. In his monologue, Molloy quotes from Leopardi. Speaking of his impotence, he quotes "non che l a speme i l desiderio" (35) from the poem "A se stesso" ["To Himself"]. The l i n e means, i n context, "not only the hope [but] the desire | i s gone]." This poem also furnished the epigraph to Proust, "E fango e i l mondo" ["and the world i s mud;" the l i n e contains a pun, euphemistically rendered as "and screw the world"]. (This epigraph has been omitted i n the 1965 e d i t i o n of Proust and Three Dialogues). Leopardi's "fango" i s i t s e l f an a l l u s i o n to Inf. 7 . 1 0 9 - 1 1 1 . both of which evoke the world of How It Is. Leopardi's influence on Beckett's works i s great; see espe c i a l l y the Zibaldone. The best (but s t i l l i n s u f f i c i e n t ) compilation of Leopardian echoes i n Beckett has been made by Renato Oliva i n Samuel Beckett: Prima del s i l e n z i o (Milano: Mursia, 1 9 6 7 ) . For the poems noted above see Giacomo Leopardi, Selected Prose and Poetry, trans. I r i s Origo and John Heath-StuBbs (Toronto: New Ameri-can Library, 1 9 6 7 ) . pp. 204 , 2 6 6 . punishment i n the eighth bolgia i s to be sheathed i n a tongue of flame. Each word he u t t e r s — a n d he has no choice when questioned but to answer—increases his torment* words are the agent of his damnation, as they are of the charac-ters i n the t r i l o g y . The image suggested by Molloy also conveys the idea that without a beginning ("fatherland") there can be no end ("shipwreck"). Thus the quest f o r the beginning, as discussed i n the chapter on Moran (see above p. 80). The a l l u s i o n to Ulysses also serves to i d e n t i f y Molloy's patroness as C|2rce, who, Ulysses states, "sottrasse / me piu d'unnanno" (Inf. 2 6 . 9 1 - 2 ) ["kept me for more than one year " [ J . As Circe, Lousse i s the prelude to the under-world—Odysseus v i s i t s T e i r e s i a s , who predicts his death at sea, a f t e r he leaves Circe. Yet as E r i c h Neumann points out, Circe i s but an aspect of the archetypal Great Mother? s p e c i f i c a l l y she represents the aspect of "the character of enchantment leading to doom," the negative aspect of the Great Mother, which i s suggested by Lousse's burying the 72 dog. Yet there i s also a p o s i t i v e aspect to Lousse, namely the planting of the seeds. In addition to the associa-Note also that Lousse "drugged" (53) Molloy's food and drink. 72 E r i c h Neumann, The Great Mother ( 1 9 5 5 ; r p t . Prince-ton* Princeton University Press, 1 9 7 2 ) , p. 81. See also "Schema I I I " facing p. 82. Note that the moon i s the symbol of the Great Mother, and compare Molloy's lunar musings, p. 39* Lousse's f i r s t name, "Sophie" (35) suggests the Sophia which i s the " s p i r i t u a l whole" (Neumann, p. 3 2 5 ) • 88 t i o n with f e r t i l i t y , there i s the connection with Dante's Matelda, custodian of the garden of the Earthly Paradise 73 (Purg. 2 8 - 3 3 )• Matelda bathes the souls who have reached the summit of Purgatory i n the r i v e r of Lethe and gives them to drink of the r i v e r of Eunoe. Lousse*s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with Circe, the negative aspect (death/burial) of the Great Mother, has another ramifications The underworld, the earth womb, as the perilous land of the dead through which the deceased must pass, either to be judged there and to ar r i v e at a chthonic realm of salvation or doom or to pass through t h i s t e r r i t o r y to a new and higher existence, i s one of the archetypal symbols' of the T e r r i b l e Mother.74 This i s the womb that Molloy and the others seek out, the womb that w i l l not, however, be the end of t h e i r quest but the threshold of the end, as indeed the Unnamable states i n his l a s t words that he i s at "the threshold of [ h i s ] story, before the door that opens on [ h i s ] story" ( 4 l 4 ) . For one enters the womb either to be judged or to pass to a higher existence, and for the t r i l o g y ' s characters, neither i s possible. They l i v e on the brink of being. Molloy's "mother's room" (7) i s i n fac t the womb i n i t s negative aspect: '^Matelda represents the active l i f e ; note Molloy's reference to "the active arid the contemplative" ( 5 2 ) . 74 Neumann, The Great Mother, p. 157 • 89 the deadly devouring maw of the underworld, • . . the abyss of h e l l , the dark hole of the depths, the devouring womb of the grave and of death, of dark-ness without l i g h t , of nothingness. ' 5 While staying i n Lousse's garden, Molloy, l i k e Moran, feels he i s being "spied on . . . [from] behind the bushes" '('53) • He f i n a l l y escapes from Lousse and her " s p e l l s " (59)» taking with him some s i l v e r and a knife r e s t . He limps along on his crutches, l i k e those "who have to fasten one foot to the ground before they dare l i f t up the other" (64). His walk r e c a l l s Belacqua Shuah's "spavined gait,"''^ both of which have t h e i r antecedent i n Dante's limp i n the dark wood (Inf. 1 . 3 0 ; see above p. 2 5 )• which i s where Molloy finds himself. the darkness of these towering forests, these giant fronds, where I hobble, l i s t e n , f a l l , r i s e , l i s t e n and hobble on, wondering sometimes, need I say, i f I s h a l l ever see again the hated l i g h t . (78) Dante emerged from the wood "a riveder l e s t e l l e " (Inf. 3 ^ . 139) ["to see the stars again"], but Molloy entertains no s such hope. Molloy tra v e l s i n "a c i r c l e " (65) through the wood, " i n an Egypt without bounds" ( 6 6 ) , an Egypt without hope of redemption. He rests occasionally, then resumes his "^Neumann, p. 149. "^"Dante and the Lobster," More Pricks than Kicks, p. 1 5 . 90 " s p i r a l s " (68), which i s the same way the Unnamable trav e l s (316-7), both of them "above i n f e r n a l depths" (79)» i n the Vestibule. As Molloy moves on, away from the seashore, he finds that he becomes weaker and sicker, as did Moran toward the end of his journey; both of them experience s t i f f e n -ing of the legs. Molloy apologizes for r e l a t i n g much to do with his weaknesses, but " ' t i s [ h i s ] muse w i l l have i t so" (79)» Molloy i s at the mercy of his muse as Moran i s at the mercy of Youdi. Furthermore, Molloy says, "I knew only i n advance, for when the time came I knew no longer" (82), which i s to say he sees l i k e those i n h e l l : 'Noi veggiam, come quei c'ha mala luce, le cose* disse 'che ne son lontano; cotanto ancor ne splende i l sommo duce. Quando s'appressano 0 son, tutto e vano nostro i n t e l l e t t o ; e s ' a l t r i non c i apporta, nul l a sapem d i vostro stato umano. Pero comprender puoi che tu t t a morta f i a nostra conoscenza da quel punto che del futuro f i a chiusa l a porta.' (Inf. 10.100-8) [•We see, l i k e those who have poor sight, the things,' he said, 'which are far from us; t h i s i s a l l we have of the Almighty's l i g h t . When these things approach, or take place, our i n t e l l e c t i s powerless; and unless others inform us, we know nothing of your human state. Thus you can understand that a l l of our knowledge w i l l be completely dead from that moment when the door to the future i s closed.'] As t h i s soul explains, the end of time which attends upon the giudizio universale w i l l see the end of t h e i r knowledge; 91 the whole quotation repeatedly asserts the vanity of i n t e l l -ect. Molloy too awaits the death of knowledge, for i t w i l l mean that he has attained the timeless state, the state without a future, for which he seeks. For to know nothing i s nothing, not to want to know anything likewise, hut to he beyond knowing anything, to know you are beyond knowing anything, that i s when peace enters i n , to the soul of the incurious seeker. (64) It i s the threshold of the door of judgement (Inf. 10.108) that these characters stand on, from Jacques J r . (92) to the Unnamable (414). Molloy does not want to know but to be, yet words v e i l his being. Understandably, he i s fascinated by non-verbal communication, of which his horn (16), his knocking on his mother's s k u l l (18), the bleating of the sheep (28), and his f a c i a l expressions (33) are a l l examples. Verbal communication i s almost u n i n t e l l i g i b l e to him for what a word s i g n i f i e s to the one who utters i t i s di f f e r e n t from the meaning i t imparts to the auditor. As Molloy says. the words I heard, and heard d i s t i n c t l y , having quite a sensitive ear, were heard a f i r s t time, then a second, and often even a t h i r d , as pure sounds, free of a l l meaning, and t h i s i s probably one of the reasons why conversation was unspeakably painf u l to me. And the words I uttered myself, and which must nearly always have gone with an e f f o r t of the i n t e l l i g e n c e , were often to me as the buzzing of an insect. (50) The a l l u s i o n to the "buzzing of an insect" r e c a l l s Moran's discourse on his bees, serving to concretize the association 92 between the buzzing, language, and a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l s . Molloy can i n no way "say" himself i f he i s not the master of the words he uses, i f they do not convey the meaning he intends. Yet he has no hope of saying himself without using words. He i s "merely complying with the convention that demands you either l i e or hold your peace" (88). Molloy i s enuncia-t i n g the convention of allegory, which Dante c a l l e d the 77 " b e l l a menzogna" ["beautiful l i e " ] . And so Molloy crawls on, i n a c i r c l e , "the forest . . . a l l about [him]," with a vague f e e l i n g of " s i n " ( 8 6 ) — "the o r i g i n a l and eternal s i n of him and a l l his *soci 78 malorum,* the s i n of having been born." B i r t h i s the s i n for which l i f e i s the penance, " l i f e without end" (14). Dante, "Convivio" 2.1.3, i n L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m of  Dante A l i g h i e r i , trans, and ed. Robert S. Haller (Lincolni University of Nebraska Press, 1973)» P» 112. ? 8 P r o u s t , p. 49. CHAPTER EIGHT MALONE Malone Dies i s about b i r t h , not death. For Beckett, " l i f e " outside the womb i s actually death, which Malone hopes to end by being born as himself, i n the timeless condition epitomized by Belacqua. Thus Malone speaks of 79 his "throes" (179) which are b i r t h as well as death pangs. Whereas i n Moran's and Molloy's monologues the questers were shown to be endlessly c i r c l i n g , Malone Dies begins with the premise that there i s an end, and that Malone can make that end. He i s therefore between a seemingly unending s t a t e r o f t a c t i v i t y and a state of timelessness. Therein l i e s the purgatorial aspect of t h i s second novel of the t r i l o g y . Dante's Purgatory i s also a state of "betweenness:" for none of the souls i n Purgatory i s t h e i r condition a fixed state. Beckett has defined Purgatory i n s i m i l a r terms, as "a flood of movement and v i t a l i t y released by the conjunction of |_Hell and Paradise]." Malone Dies i s also the median of the dark, a c t i v e , s i l e n t , external world of Moran and Molloy and the l i g h t , s t a t i c , verbose i n t e r n a l world of The Unnamable, respectively the "Inferno" 79 "There i s a great deal of the unborn infant i n the l i f e l e s s octogenarian," says Beckett i n "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," p. 8. 80 Ibid., p. 22. and "Paradiso" of Beckett's cosmos. Dante's Purgatory, l i k e the Inferno, i s a place of suffering; the difference i s that there w i l l be an end to the s u f f e r i n g for those i n purgatorio. Their pain w i l l net them Paradise, the attainment of the s e l f . The progression from one state to another more ab-st r a c t state i s c e n t r a l to the idea of a l l e g o r i c a l abstrac-t i o n . Malone*s narrative can be seen as Moran's and Molloy's narratives at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l , as indeed soon becomes apparent. Malone thinks he w i l l die i n "the month of A p r i l or of May" (179)* As we learn l a t e r , he dies i n A p r i l , during the Easter weekend, which i s the time of Dante's descent into h e l l , and ascent of Mount Purgatory to the Gate of St. P e t e r — t o i t , but not through i t . Malone's quest leads him to the threshold of a beginning, as did Moran's and Molloy's and as the Unnamable's w i l l . They are 81 a l l on the threshold of existence. "I s h a l l s u f f e r more, then l e s s " (179) says Malone, adumbrating his b a s i c a l l y purgatorial s i t u a t i o n . "While waiting I s h a l l t e l l myself s t o r i e s " (180); t h i s i s the modus operandi of his narrative. He remembers an "ancient night," "long stumbling with outstretched arms, hiding," a l l of which suggest Moran's and Molloy's experiences, and serve to i d e n t i f y Malone with his two predecessors. 8 W are Stoics i n the l i t e r a l sense. 9 5 Malone's being i s embodied i n his writing. "This exercise-book i s my l i f e " (274) he says. He i s t r y i n g to define his being by writing of others, yet, because he exists only i n his writing he cannot separate himself from the characters he creates. Writing i s useless as a means of transcendence (the complete a n t i t h e s i s of the Dantean mode). This follows d i r e c t l y upon our observation that the ultimate a l l e g o r i c a l l e v e l i s absent i n the Beckettian cosmos. Malone begins with his "present s t a t e , " which p a r a l l e l s Molloy's, for he i s i n a "room," naked l i k e the "ignudi" i n the Vestibule (Inf. 3»65)» H e does "not remember how [he] got there" (183); t h i s a l l u s i o n to Inf. 1.10 strengthens 82 the p a r a l l e l with Molloy. Malone remembers having been l o s t i n a "for e s t " (183), l i k e Molloy. But th i s i s part of his "past," and " i t i s the present [he] must e s t a b l i s h . " The truth i s , i f I did not f e e l myself dying, I could well believe myself dead, expiating my sin s , or i n one of heaven's mansions. But I f e e l at l a s t that the sands are running out, which would not be the case i f I were i n heaven, or i n h e l l . (183) Malone places himself neither i n heaven nor i n h e l l ; he i s between these two states, which i n absolute terms would be defined as Purgatory (as Beckett did define i t i n his essay op In fact Malone uses exactly the same words as Molloy, saying how he might have reached the room i n an "ambulance" (183). on Joyce), but i n the absence of absolute values can only be defined as the Vestibule of h e l l , which i s a state of eternal "betweenness." Malone i s i n bed; his possessions, the t b t a l i t y of his universe, are i n a corner. He has a long s t i c k with which he can grab things. A window gives him an excellent opportunity to be a voyeur, l i k e his antecedent Moran. His dying i s punctuated by the soup bowl and the chamber p o t — " D i s h and pot, dish and pot, these are the poles" (185). He i s powerless without his s t i c k ; with i t , he "can control the furthest recesses of [ h i s ] abode." The s t i c k serves the same function i n the outer world, as his p e n c i l does i n the inner. His existence i s i t s e l f p o s i t i e d i n the p e n c i l ; as i t diminishes, so does his l i f e . By contrast with Dante, who wrote i n the Commedia of a past s e l f , Malone can only write of himself i n the present. It i s t h i s s e l f he wants to die, while that other s e l f should l i v e , he must write i n order to stop writing. As Malone says, "I did not want to write, but I had to resign myself to i t i n the end. It i s i n order to know where I have got to, where he has got to" (207). So much for his present state, says Malone, i r o n i c a l l y , f o r his present state i s whatever he i s writing about. His f i r s t story i s about the Saposcats, whose materialism Beckett savagely s a t i r i s e s . Malone abruptly breaks o f f his story, wondering i f he i s not "talking yet again about [him]self" (189). He asks, "Shall I be incapable, to the end, of l y i n g on any other subject?" The a l l u s i o n i s again to Dante's description of allegory as the " b e l l a menzogna" r -.83 ["beautiful l i e " J ; i t s resonance i s p a r t i c u l a r l y i r o n i c i n Malone*s case. He can write only of himself, yet i n a l l he writes, he can never f i n d the i d e n t i t y of his true s e l f , for to write i s to l i e . His only hope i s to keep on writing, abstracting his existence to the point of ultimate s i g n i f i c a n c e . U n t i l that point there i s "nothing to s i g n i f y . " Malone resumes his t a l e . Sapo, l i k e Watt, cannot name those things about him. The Saposcats "made use of the spoken word i n much the same way as the guard of a t r a i n makes use of his f l a g s , or of his lantern" (188); words are for them merely primitive s i g n a l l i n g devices, yet any attempt to use them above t h i s l e v e l f a i l s . For Malone, as f o r the others, words are the agents of his punishment, as they are f o r Ulysses, whose "old shipwreck" 84 (192) Malone r e c a l l s . The words " r i s e up out of the p i t and know no r e s t u n t i l they drag you down into i t s dark." Like Beckett's other characters, Sapo i s i d e n t i f i e d with the Dante of the dark wood by "his strange walk, his halts and sudden s t a r t s " (204). Sapo's story returns again 8 3 Convivio 2.1.3; see above p. 92, n.77. 84 See above, p. 86, n.?0. 98 and again to the theme of the i n a b i l i t y to know, whether the knowledge be of stars or from books. But most of a l l , Sapo wants to know "what manner of being he was" (193). So does Malone; he t r i e d to f i n d himself i n the outer world when he was young, l i k e Sapo, but to no a v a i l . It i s only now he i s beginning to knows "So I near the goal I set myself i n my young days and which prevented me from l i v i n g . And on the threshold of being no more I succeed i n being another" (19^). Malone recognizes that words are i n s u f f i c i e n t to take him beyond himself, to "cause to l i v e , be another, i n [hiirfjself, i n another" (195) • As he says, "there i s no use i n d i c t i n g words, they are no shoddier than what they peddle." Words peddle meaning, but Malone wants to be, not to mean. For t h i s reason he continues to write, "no longer i n order to succeed, but i n order to f a i l . " I t i s the nothingness of the human nothing, i t s haecceity, which Malone wishes to a t t a i n , f o r "nothing i s more r e a l than  nothing" (192). To f a i l to mean i s to a r r i v e at the u l -timate r e a l i t y . "I want nothing" (199) says Malone, and he means i t . His p l i g h t relates d i r e c t l y to our discussion of a llegory. I f the r e a l i s nothing, then to write of i t i n words (something) i s to write allegory, which writes of the r e a l by means of the unreal. "I have pinned my f a i t h to appearances, b e l i e v i n g ; them to be vain," (210) says Malone. 85 Compare p. 276, " A l l i s pretext, Sapo and the birds, Moll, . . . my possessions." 9 9 Malone continues on his quest to "die a l i v e , " (209), 86 which i s exactly what Belacqua does i n the Antepurgatory. Malone invents (with the help of Balzac), the Lamberts. Sapo i s apprenticed to Big Lambert to learn the l a t t e r ' s trade, pig-butchering. Sapo i s driven by a voice "that t o l d him to go on" ( 2 0 6 ) , as Moran and Molloy were driven, t h e i r actions w i l l e d by another. Malone says, "I s h a l l go on doing as I have always done, not knowing what i t i s I do, nor who I am, nor where I am, nor i f I am" (226). Sapo's e r r a t i c walk as already noted was that of "one floundering i n a quag" (205; c f . Inf. 7 ) ; he walks " i n the deep shadow of the trees" (cf. Inf. 1.2). Malone i n  propria persona writes of always having "been walking" (183), of "the joys of darkness" (193)» of being on "the edge of an abyss" (208). Like those i n h e l l , Malone i s oblivious of others around him, and fears he may r e a l l y be i n a "wide jtrench or d i t c h " (219), l i k e the malebolge, and below him "other vaults even deeper than [ h i s ] " (219), from which '"noises . . . r i s e up." The r e p e t i t i o n of the i n f e r n a l motives found i n Moran's and Molloy's narratives indicates the lack of progress of these quests; Malone says • 86 Like his forerunners, Sapo i s prone to the Bel-acqua po s i t i o n . "Sapo sat down before him,.laid his hand on the table and his head on his hand, thinking he was alone. Between his head and his hand he slipped the other hand and sat there marble s t i l l " (212). 1 0 0 there i s . . . [a] p o s s i b i l i t y . . . that I am dead already and that a l l continues more or less as when I was not. Perhaps I expired i n the forest, or even e a r l i e r . In which case a l l the trouble I have been taking f o r some time past, f o r what purpose I do not c l e a r l y r e c a l l except that i t was i n some way connect-ed with the f e e l i n g that my troubles were nearly over, has been to no purpose whatsoever. ( 2 1 9 ) This i s i n fact the most accurate appraisal of his con-d i d i t i o n ; his unceasing e f f o r t s take him nowhere. A step forward nets no progress: there i s nothing more l i k e a step that climbs than a step that descends or even that paces to and from forever on the same l e v e l , . . . f o r one . . . i n ignorance of his p o s i t i o n and consequently of what he i s to expect. ( 2 1 9 ) In C h r i s t i a n times, such as Dante's, Malone*s desire to die a l i v e would be recognized as a desire f o r s p i r i t u a l r e b i r t h . Malone, however, does not exist i n a system which offers him that prospect? he must create an order through his writing by means of which he can transcend his present condition. I n t r i n s i c to that transcendent being i s present understanding of " l i f e and death, i f that i s what i t i s a l l about, and I suppose i t i s f o r nothing was ever about anything else to the best of my r e c o l l e c t i o n , " says Malone; "But what i t i s a l l about exactly I could no more say, at the present moment, than take up my bed and walk." This a l l u s i o n to one of the miracles of Christ (Matt. 9 . 2 - 8 ) points out the element missing from Malone's cosmos. With-out the promise of l i f e a f t e r death there i s nothing to 101 redeem l i f e — o r death: "But what matterwwhether I was born or not, have l i v e d or not, am dead or merely dying." Malone has r e a l i z e d t h e 3 f a t e of those i n the Vestibule, who "mai non fur v i v i " (Inf. 3-64) ["were never a l i v e " ] , and who "non hanno speranza d i morte" (Inf. 3 « 4 6 ) ["have no hope of death"]. We have already i l l u s t r a t e d , i n our studies of Moran and Molloy that, on one l e v e l , the episodes i n the t r i l o g y r elate the a r t i s t i c descent into the s e l f . Malone's narrative modifies t h i s l e v e l of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The a r t i s t i c process i s a contraction; outward movement i s not possible because the outer world i s e x t r i n s i c to the s e l f . The only possible movement i s inward, an abstrac-t i o n to n u l l i t y , the ultimate r e a l i t y . For Dante, the movement toward Reality was outward; the s e l f was known by 87 knowing God. Malone, however, cannot transcend; he i s drawn ever more deeply into a s e l f he does not know: But suddenly a l l begins to rage and roar again, you are l o s t i n forests of high threshing ferns or whirled far out on wind-swept wastes [ c f . Inf. 5 ] , t i l l you [begin] to wonder i f you have.not died without know-ing [ c f . Inf. 33.124 ff.] and gone to h e l l or been born again into an even worse place than before. Malone journeys toward the absurdist nothing, that i s nothing, as Dante journeyed toward the Divine Nothing which 8?He states his doctrine i n the poem "Oltre l a spera che piu larga g i r a , " where he says " i n t e l l i g e n z a nova, . . . pur su l o t i r a " ["new understanding . . . draws him ever upward"]• 88 i s Everything. These are the only two directions i n which one can moves "either you know a l l or you know no-thing" ( 2 3 2 ) . Malone's next creation, Macmann, "knows nothing*" Malone wishes to a t t a i n t h i s state by writing of i t i n Macmann. This desire f o r a "vic e - e x i s t e r " (315) that cannot know i s taken to absurd extremes i n the Unnam-able" s Worm. Malone's wish for the end of knowledge i s connected with his wish for the end of time, for "no morrow" ( 2 3 3 )• His true s e l f must be outside time since time presents him with a new s e l f each moment. The concept that knowledge ceases for the damned at the end of time i s par-t i c u l a r l y Dantesque, and has been discussed above (p. 90). The end w i l l f i n a l l y come, according to Malone, when he has achieved that timeless state wherein l i e s the ultimate r e a l i t y , nothing. "And i f I ever stop t a l k i n g i t w i l l be because • . . nothing has been s a i d " ( 2 3 6 ) . He w i l l then not have to write of himself at one remove. "Then i t w i l l be a l l over with the Murphys, • . . Molloys, Morans and Malones." The a l l u s i o n s to the Inferno increase with the con-tinuation of Macmann's story. Macmann l i e s prostrate i n the p e l t i n g r a i n (cf. Inf. 6 ) , clawing at the t u r f . I t is through Macmann that Malone explores the nature of his 88 I follow here Robert S. Knapp's seminal a r t i c l e , "Samuel Beckett's Allegory of the Uncreating Word," Mosaic, V l / 2 ( 1 9 7 3 ) . 7 1 - 8 3 . "Writing about nothing . . . is~the task of the a l l e g o r i s t , of the man who would give form to the formless, to an Essence that i s d e f i n e d . . . as the negation of a t t r i b u t e s " ( 7 1 - 2 ) . 103 own punishment, and of the s i n f o r which he must s u f f e r : without knowing exactly what his s i n was he f e l t f u l l well that l i v i n g was not a s u f f i c i e n t atonement f o r i t or that t h i s atonement was i n i t s e l f a s i n , c a l l i n g for more atonement, and so on, as i f there could be any-thing but l i f e , f or the l i v i n g . And no doubt he [Mac-mannj would have wondered i f i t was r e a l l y necessary to be g u i l t y i n order to be punished but for the memory, more and more g a l l i n g , of his having consented to l i v e i n his mother, then to leave her. (239*240) Since to l i v e i s to su f f e r , the source of t h i s s u f f e r i n g , the s i n f o r which man i s punished, must be b i r t h . The ess e n t i a l difference between the s i n and i t s punishment i n th i s h e l l and that i n Dante's i s that i n the l a t t e r the sinner was very much aware of his s i n , and knew why he was being punished. In Malone's h e l l , the s u f f e r i n g i s g r a t u i -tous, and thus there i s no d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n between the types of s uffering, as there i s i n the Inferno. In a world be-r e f t of judgement, b i r t h i s the only possible s i n and l i f e the only possible punishment. And the essence of l i f e , as Beckett so eloquently declaims i n Godot, i s waiting, "the waiting that knows i t s e l f i n vain" (24l). Waiting i s the punishment meted out to those i n both the Vestibule and the Antepurgatory, with the difference that there i s an end to the waiting i n purgatorio. Like Moran and Molloy before him, Macmann/Malone moves on "along the arc of a gigantic c i r c l e " (246; c f . p. 240, "you go round i n c i r c l e s " ) , on crutches. Like Murphy and Watt before him, he ends up i n an asylum. Here Macmann has no need to think or act; both are done f o r him, which i s an i r o n i c p a r a l l e l to the absolute accept-ance of su f f e r i n g and dogmanrequired of the souls portrayed i n the Purgatorio—"Take no thought f o r anything, i t i s we s h a l l think and act for you" ( 2 5 6 ) . By writing of a character who has no need to think, Malone hopes to a t t a i n the state of being which he so desires. The asylum, which offers Macmann some respite from his physical s u f f e r i n g , exists i n i r o n i c juxtaposition to Dante's Earthly Paradise (Purg. 27 - 3 3 ) * - It i s "a l i t t l e Paradise" (277) which i s reached by the soul a f t e r i t has suffered the scourges of the mountain. The asylum, l i k e the Earthly Paradise, i s a forest (cf. Purg. 28 .2) on a "plateau" ( 2 7 7 ) , and occupies "the entire top," as the Earthly Paradise does Mount Purgatory. There one can hear "the song of the b i r d s " ( c f . Purg. 28.14-15); there one can breathe "pure . . . a i r " ("aura dolce," Purg. 28 . 7 ) , and the "wind [blows] almost without ceasing" but unlike the "soave vento" (Purg. 28.9) ["gentle breeze"] of the Earthly Paradise, i t blows i n a "fury" and i s more i n f e r n a l than paradisal. There i s a stream ( c f . Purg. 28 . 2 5 ) , the source of which i s "underground" (cf. Purg. 28.121-6); i n the Earthly Paradise that stream i s Lethe (Purg. 28 . 130) i n which the penitent i s bathed, losing a l l memory of s i n (Purg. 28.128). Malone of course i s unable to forget; that i s the essence of his punishment as he indicated i n the passage quoted above (p. 1 0 3 ) . where he posits his g u i l t 8 9 i n "the memory" (240) of being once i n his mother. Moll, the maiden who takes care of Macmann i n the asylum, i s a type of Matelda (Purg. 3 3 . 1 1 3 ) . custodian of the paradiso t e r r e s t r e . Like Matelda, who bathes Dante i n the stream of the divine forest, Moll r i t u a l l y washes Macmann; as such, she i s also Lousse, seen on another l e v e l . Moll i s a grotesque parody of Matelda, however; old and depraved, she and Macmann couple impotently. The asylum and Moll are no "foretaste df paradise" (273); Macmann/ Malone i s , l i k e his predecessors, i n the dark wood, "be-neath the great black g e s t i c u l a t i n g p:ines" (27*+). Moll dies (Malone stops writing of her) and i s re-placed by Lemuel, who, on "the Easter week-end, spent by Jesus i n h e l l " (280) announces an "excursion to the islands. In addition to Lemuel and Macmann, there are four inmates who are to go on the excursion. Each i s a character who has appeared previously i n Beckett's works. The f i r s t , "seated i n an old rocking c h a i r " (281) i s Murphy. The second i s "perpetually looking f o r something while at the same time wondering what that something could possibly be" (282), and constantly exclaiming "What!"; t h i s i s Watt. ^Memory i s also the punishment f o r Winnie i n Happy  Days. Winnie and W i l l i e are the reductio ad absurdum of Paolo and Francesca (Inf. 5)» In h e l l , Francesca hankers a f t e r the "tempo f e l i c e " (Inf. 5 » 1 2 1 ) » never r e a l i z i n g that t h i s memory of them i s her punishment. 90 The walls surrounding Lousse's and the asylum are i d e n t i c a l . See pages 52 and 278. 106 The t h i r d i s i d e n t i f i e d by his "umbrella" as Moran. The fourth, a f i l t h y "misshapen giant" (283) i s Molloy i n 91 Moran's description. That a l l of these " v i c e - e x i s t e r s " are gathered here, sharing a s i m i l a r fate, supports the thesis that they are a l l one, and that each character repeats the preceding one, but at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of perception or abstraction. Each c i r c u i t o u s voyage begets another, and as Macmann suspects, "the thing so often f e l t to be excessive, and honored by such a variety of names, was perhaps i n r e a l i t y always one and the same" (278). The inmates, together with Lady Pedal, proceed i n the "waggonette," (284) i n a parody of the .pageant of the Church which Dante beholds i n the paradiso t e r r e s t r e (Purg. 29-32, esp. 32.148-60$ note the presence of a giant on the chariot, Purg. 32.152). The chariot does not pro-ceed through the forest, however, but descends toward the sea, a completely absurd reversal of the Dantean paradigm. They reach the bottom of the mound (or mountain) and clamber into a boat, which has i t s counterpart i n the one which f e r r i e s the souls to Mount Purgatory (Purg. 2.4-0-2). They, however, are moving away from t h e i r "earthly paradise" i n what seems to be a re-enactment of the F a l l . They reach an i s l a n d , where the "youth" (Murphy) "had thrown himself down i n the shade of a rock, l i k e Sordello, but Hess noble, for Sordello resembled a l i o n at r e s t " (286: c f . ^ I d e n t i f i e d by T a g l i a f e r r i , except for Molloy. Purg* 6.66). Sordello i s again invoked, as he was i n Molloy's narrative (10), as a type who has found being i n s t a s i s , the s t a t i c p o s i t i o n implying the end of searching and the beginning of being. Lemuel at t h i s point begins murdering those around him, and as we noted with the death of Moll, t h i s i s equivalent to the a r t i s t ' s (Malone's) stopping writing 9 2 about a given character. Malone i s disposing of his characters one by one, hoping at the end to have nothing to write about. The scene of carnage which Malone creates i n his exercise book i s reminiscent of Ulysses's shipwreck (Inf. 26.133-142), ind i c a t i n g the ultimate i n f e r n a l im-p l i c a t i o n s of the scene. Malone confuses Lemuel with him-s e l f i n the l a s t words he writes; he cannot separate t h i s f i c t i v e s e l f from his true one. The confusion of hatchet and pencil reveals that Malone's writing i s i t s e l f an act of murder, drawing l i f e out of the very s e l f he wishes to see l i v e . Malone stops writing and thus ceases to e x i s t . Yet his l a s t word i s "more" (288), i n d i c a t i n g what i s to come. For, l i k e Belacqua, his l i f e i s over, but i t has not yet ended, and l i k e Belacqua he must s t i l l wait to be born. 92 Note the equation between "hatchet" and " p e n c i l , " p. 288. CHAPTER NINE UNNAMABLE The ultimate movement of the preceding three narra-tives has been toward negation, a movement for which Moran's narrative i s the paradigm. When the narrator f i n a l l y says himself, names the essence of his being, a l l he has said up to that point w i l l be rendered superfluous. This move-ment toward negation, toward the es s e n t i a l nothing, i s the motive force of the t r i l o g y * Molloy journeys i n order not to journey; Malone writes i n order not to write; the Unnam-able speaks' i n order not to speak. The movement toward negation also characterizes allegory, which has as i t s goal i t s di s s o l u t i o n , the end of i l l u s i o n and the beginning of r e a l i t y . That r e a l i t y was, i n Dante's cosmos, the " a l l of a l l " ( 3 8 8 ) ; i n the Beckettian cosmos i t i s the " a l l of nothing" and therefore unnamable. The fourth (but not necessarily f i n a l ) narrative i n t h i s sequence i s the reductio ad absurdum of the a l l e g o r i c a l process i n i t i a t e d i n Moran's narrative. The Unnamable records the attempt to name the essence of a being that knows i t s e l f i n vain. It i s an attempt to answer the question Beckett f i r s t proposed i n Watt, when he asked, "who may . . . nothingness i n words 93 enclose." Watt, p. 247. 0 The Unnamable exists i n the state to which a l l of the other narrators have aspired: the state of a l i v e mind i n a dead body. Free of that decayed mechanism, the mind can apprehend i t s e l f f r e e l y , and discover i t s essence. The question—the old q u e s t i o n — i s how to discover that essence* "Where now? Who now? When now?" (291) asks the Unnamable. A l l systems, "aporia," "affirmations," "negations," have so f a r f a i l e d inggiving him a sense of himself, and now "the thing to avoid . . . i s the s p i r i t of a system" .(292). He experiences the disorientation of his predecessors, which i s i n turn informed by the disorientation of the Dante i n the dark wood. Like the a l l e g o r i s t , the Unnamable " s h a l l have to speak of things of which [he] cannot speak;" he s h a l l t r y to speak of what he does not know by speaking of what he does know. And, l i k e his predecessors, he speaks because he i s ?)obliged to speak." His voice i s compelled. 94 The Unnamable posits himself at the center ofaa miniscule universe where the l i g h t s shine "strong one minute and weak the next (c f . Par. 2.64-66). Around him c i r c l e his previous v i c e - e x i s t e r s , as the angels c i r c l e around God i n the Paradiso. "They are a l l here, at least from Murphy on" (293). Since these vice - e x i s t e r s are his 94 If not i n the center the Unnamable says he i s some-where between, f o r "from centre to circumference . . . i s a far cry" (295)» which passage alludes to Par. 14.1, where Beatrice and St. Thomas communicate non-verbally. 110 own creations, his universe i s measured by the parameters of his own mind and i t i s t h i s universe which he wishes to know, f o r such are the terms of the Paradiso. Yet, the Unnamable's e f f o r t s do not bring him any closer to his goal than did Moran's; i n fa c t , his narrative i s an extrapolation of the previous three, which have "reference to a single existence, the confusion of i d e n t i t i e s being merely apparent" ( 3 3 0 ) . Thus the Unnamable*s narrative r e f l e c t s the same in f e r n a l landscape that has appeared i n the other narrations, and many of the elements i n his narrative correspond to those in the preceding ones. He believes that there are "other p i t s , deeper down" ( 2 9 3 )• He says, "I have always been s i t t i n g here, at t h i s selfsame spot, my hands on my knees . . . . The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes" ( 2 9 3 ) . This position bears only a f a i n t resemblance to that taken up by Belacqua. It echoes more c l e a r l y the description of those i n h e l l ' s vestibule who are continu-a l l y crying (Inf. 3 . 6 8 ) , "bathed i n tears" ( 3 0 5 )• and the Old Man of Crete, who represents the degeneration of the ages, and whose tears f i l l the r i v e r s of h e l l , "gathering 95 together . . . a l l the e v i l and the sorrow of the world." Like those i n the Inferno, the Unnamable "cannot be s i l e n t " ( 2 9 4 ) . The tongue of flames shrouding the fals e counsellors has been c i t e d above (p. 87) as the prime 95 Sapegno's note to Inf. 14 . 1 0 3 , p. 1 6 2 . example i n the Inferno of words as the agents of punishment (Inf. 2 6 ) . Thus the Unnamable speaks "to the self-accompani-ment of a tongue that i s not [ h i s ] " ( 3 0 6 ) . However, the suicides (Inf. 13) are also punished by having to speak when one of t h e i r branches i s broken. (They take the form of barren t r e e s ) . They then bleed t h e i r words out, which, Leo Spitzer notes, indicates "the tyranny of the need for self-expression by language, the se l f - m u t i l a t i n g s a d i s t i c power of speech which while seeming to give consola 96 t i o n only aggravates the wound." Because words embody meaning, each one the Unnamable speaks adds to his knowledge. Yet he who i s nothing, and who wishes to know who he i s , must know nothing, and t h i s is the Unnamable*s cross. "About myself I need know nothing he says (29*0. Any knowledge which he has acquired during his long (long!) l i f e i s not only ir r e l e v a n t to his s e l f -hood, but actually obscures his s e l f even further, for each piece of knowledge i s heuristics They gave me courses on love, on i n t e l l i g e n c e , most precious. They also taught me to count, and even to reason. Some of thi s rubbish has come i n handy on occasions, I don't deny i t , on occasions which would never have arisen i f they had l e f t me i n peace. (298) He who least values knowledge acquires i t at an exponential rate. Yet i t i s the "search f o r the means to put an end 96 Leo Spitzer, "Speech and Language i n Inferno XIII," i n Dantes A C o l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l Essays, p. 8 8 . to things, an end to speech, [that] enables the discourse to continue" (299). And i n order for the discourse to go on, "one invents o b s c u r i t i e s " (294); one writes allegory, i n which the object i s "to speak andyyet say nothing" (303)• In the same way that the words he speaks obscure his selfhood, his vice-existers detract from his e s s e n t i a l being: " A l l these Murphys, Molloys and Malones do not f o o l me. They have made me waste my time, suff e r for nothing, speak of them when, i n order to stop speaking, I should have spoken of me and of me alone." The Unnamable r e a l i z e s the f a i l u r e inherent i n the a r t i s t i c process, which obliges him to write about something by nop writing of i t . There i s also the implication that the three other narrators of the t r i l o g y are the Unnamable*s creations; for instance, the Unnamable speaks of having "finished with [ h i s ] troop of l u n a t i c s " (308) which suggests that i t was i n fact he who wrote the story about the lunatics i n Malone*s narra-t i v e . The suggestion i s that the Unnamable i s himself the creation of another, and so on, each one more abstract than the previous, each no closer to his goal. Such i s the Unnamable's "incomprehensible damnation" (308): his damnation i s that he i s not damned, for even h e l l i s an invention and implies a system: "there i s a god f o r the damned" (400). To be damned i s to be judged, and, i n the words of Beckett, what he paints i s a -''world bereft of 113 judgement." Beckett has "set aside . . . the analogy with orthodox damnation" (390) which depends on a complete eschatological system, and instead presents a damnation that i s derived precisely from the lack of a system. A l l t h i s business of a labour to accomplish, before I can end, of words to say, a t r u t h to recover, i n order to say i t , before I can end, of an imposed task, once known, long neglected, f i n a l l y forgotten, to perform, before I can be done with speaking, done with l i s t e n i n g , I invented i t a l l , i n the hope i t wouiLd console me, help me to go on, allow me to think of myself as somewhere on a road, moving between a beginning and an end, gaining ground, l o s i n g ground, getting l o s t , but somehow i n the long run making headway. A l l l i e s . (31*+) The a l l u s i o n s to one on a "road" who was " l o s t " but who eventually makes "headway" r e c a l l s the Dantean journey. " A l l l i e s " says the Unnamable, recognizing that the system i n the Commedia i s e x t r i n s i c to his own cosmos. Dante's " l i e s " were redeemed and given meaning through f a i t h i n God the Logos, a f a i t h that has no place i n the Unnamable*s cosmos. For i n a cosmos that exists only to mirror God, i t s creator, a r t i s t i c creation r e f l e c t s divine creation. Subtract God from that formula and the a r t i s t ' s work re-f l e c t s only i t s e l f , and cannot go beyond i t s e l f . The Unnamable invents Mahood who l i k e his predecessors i s a c r i p p l e , and walks "not i n a straight l i n e " (316) but " i n a sharp curve," which, i f he were to follow i t long Quoted by W. York T i n d a l l , Samuel Beckett (New York and Londonj Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 13. 114 enough would restore him "to [ h i s ] point of departure," only "to begin again" ( 3 0 2 ) . Mahood gets "embroiled i n a kind of inverted s p i r a l , * . . the c o i l s of which, instead of widening more and more, grew narrower and narrower and f i n a l l y , . . . would come to an end for lack of room." This i s e s s e n t i a l l y the structure of the Inferno. Mahood goes on to repeat the movement of Dante's voyage oltretombas Faced then with the material i m p o s s i b i l i t y of going any further I should no doubt have had to stop, un-less of course I elected tosset o f f again at once i n the opposite d i r e c t i o n , . • . [ f o r ] there i s no road so d u l l , on the way out, but i t has quite a d i f f e r e n t aspect, quite a d i f f e r e n t dullness, on the way back, and vice-versa. . . . [ i f ] by dint of winding myself up I must inevitably f i n d myself stuck i n the end, once launched i n the opposite d i r e c t i o n should I not normally unfold ad infinitum . . . . (316-317) The outward s p i r a l i s that of the Paradiso, which f o r Dante ended i n absolute understanding of the s e l f through under-standing of God. But Mahood posits no end to his paradise; his only hope i s to abstract himself to nothingness, waiting for his "mind [to be] at peace, that i s to say empty" ( 3 1 1 ) , s u f f e r i n g "unrelieved immaculation," which i s Beckett's own 98 d e f i n i t i o n of Paradise. No matter which way Mahood t r a v e l s , outward (as Moran travelled) or inward ( l i k e Molloy), there i s no end to his t r a v e l l i n g s C a c c i a n l i i c i e l per non esser men b e l l i , ne l o profondo inferno l i riceve, ch'alcuna g l o r i a i r e i avrebber d ' e l l i . (Inf. 3.40-2) "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," p. 22. 115 [Heaven expelled them so as not to blemish i t s beauty; the i n f e r n a l depths s h a l l not receive them, for the damned might glory i n them.] Mahood*s story repeats the Dantean journey i n paradiso i n other respects. Mahood i s returning home, as Dante "returned home" to Paradise. Like Dante, Mahood sets out for his "home" from an "is l a n d , among [ h i s ] compatriots, contemporaries, c o r e l i g i o n i s t s and companions i n d i s t r e s s " ( 3 2 6 ) , which i s Malone*s i s l a n d . Like Mount Purgatory, t h i s i s l a n d i s located i n the southern hemisphere ("Java," p. 317)• Yet Mahood moves c e n t r i p e t a l l y toward his home, a reversal of Dante!s outward s p i r a l l i n g i n the Paradiso. When Mahood arriv e s home, he finds his family dead of botulism, and he tramples t h e i r remains with his crutches, destroying his own image, which i s the essence of his quest. In his next avatar, Mahood finds himself "stuck l i k e a sheaf of flowers i n a deep jar, i t s neck f l u s h with [ h i s ] mouth" ( 3 2 ? ) . He i s taken care of by Madeleine who follows i n the t r a d i t i o n of Lousse and Moll. Like the souls i n Paradise, Mahood i s v i s i b l e as a l i g h t , his head " a r t i s t i c -a l l y illuminated" (3*+*+)» but his condition r e c a l l s the punishment of the heretics, who are plunged i n f i e r y tombs (Inf. 9) and the t r a i t o r s , frozen up to t h e i r necks i n the ice of Cocytus (Inf. 3*0 « ^ Only his words move now; they are a l l he has. "It a l l b o i l s down to a question of words" 99 Note Mahood's reference to "thin i c e , " p. 35*+. 116 ( 3 3 5 )• He must say who he i s by saying "what [he i s ] not" 100 (326); he must define himself by negation, i n order to be "admitted to that peace where he neither i s , nor i s not, and where the language dies that permits of such expressions" ( 3 3 ^ - 5 )• Dante also finds language i n s u f f i c i e n t to his task i n Paradise, and f i n a l l y states that what he seeks to express goes beyond the l i m i t s of his a r t — " A l l ' a l t a fantasia qui manco possa" (Par, 33«l42)["High fantasy here leaves o f f " ] . The Unnamable wishes to say the one word which w i l l t e l l him who he i s . This word w i l l be his f i r s t and also his l a s t ; i t w i l l be his paradise. As Philippe S o l l e r s notes, " l e paradis n'est r i e n d'autre que ce l i e u de l a premiere parole, et ce 'premiere,* sans 101 doute, n'indique pas seulement une dimension du temps." Yet the language which he must use to say his unchanging s e l f i s constantly changing, and he i s changing with i t : S i les morts qui ont marche l a ou nous marchons ressucitaient, d i t Dante rConvivio 1 . 5 ] nous ne pourrions pas les comprendre. De plus, ce change-ment imperceptible et ce que l'on peut assimiler a l a croissance corporelle est pour nous une source permanente d'aveuglement: nous croyons i n -changeable ce qui ne cesse pas de changer (nous-rrte^ mes, ndtre corps, l a langue).- 1- 0 2 1 0 0Compare Convivio 3.I5.6O -70. 101 < s S o l l e r s , "Dante et l a traversee de l ' e c r i t u r e , " L'ecriture et 1*experience des l i m i t e s (Paris: Editions du S e u i l , 1958), p. 20 1 0 2 I b i d . , p. 21. 117 I f , however, the Unnamable could say that one word which i n saying nothing says everything, he could rest at l a s t . Yet there i s no f i r s t word, no Logos; there are only words. The Unnamable has no reason to go on i n a s i t u a t i o n such as t h i s , yet he feels compelled to go on. "The r e a l i z a -t i o n that mental a c t i v i t y i s compulsive rather than motivat-ed involves a disillusionment with the whole idea of free 103 and motivated behavior." And t h i s mental a c t i v i t y , we hear Beckett say, was once lauded as " i l ben d e l l ' i n t e l l e t t o " (Inf. 3.18) ["the good of the i n t e l l e c t " ] . Mahood*s next avatar i s Worm, a foetus; as such Worm represents that Belacquean state sought a f t e r f o r so long. Worm's "senses t e l l him nothing, nothing about himself, nothing about the rest, and th i s d i s t i n c t i o n i s beyond him. Feeling nothing, knowing nothing, he exists nevertheless" (3^6). It now only remains f o r Mahood to become Worm. He who began ;. as a worm must end as a worm—the alpha and omega of the Beckettian cosmos. Worm i s i n an urn; his story i s Hydriotaphia written from the ins i d e . But for Worm to be able to t e l l his story, he must be able to perceive, which makes him other than nothing, and therefore i n i m i c a l to the s e l f Mahood wants to be, as Mahood himself r e a l i z e s : "I'm Worm, that i s to say I am no longer he, since I hear" (3*+9). This f a i l u r e only serves to make him t a l k the more. 1 03Eugene Webb, Samuel Beckett (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1970), p. 110. "They mentioned roses" he says; " I ' l l smell them before I'm f i n i s h e d " ( 3 5 0 ) . At the end of his journey Dante sees in Paradise the " C a n d i d a rosa" (Par. 3 0 . 1 ) ["white roses], which God and a l l the blessed are present. Worm w i l l sense the roses rather than experience them as did Dante; he i s unable to go beyond himself. Because Mahood thinks compulsively, he s u f f e r s , f or to think i s to s u f f e r . Yet even his buffering i s g r a t u i -tous i n a "world bereft of judgement," so he invents a whole "college of tyrants" (310) as his tormentors: And how they enjoy t a l k i n g , they know there i s no worse torment, for one not i n the conversation. They are numerous, a l l round, holding hands perhaps, an endless chain, taking turns to t a l k . They wheel, i n jerks, so that the voice always comes from the same quarter. (356) This parodies the c i r c l e s of l i g h t s which appear to Dante i n the Paradiso (10-14). Worm, l i k e Dante, i s "at the centre" of these l i g h t s , each of which represents a great teacher of Christendom, and, i n t h e i r wheelings, the per-fect order of the universe. Those i n Mahood's story "have no pedagogic purpose i n view" (356) however, for " l i s t e n i n g to tal k of the heavens" (353) only drives him further from his goal, to know nothing. Mahood keeps speaking of Worm, hoping to appropriate his nothingness: He hears, that's a l l about i t , he who i s alone, and mute, l o s t i n the smoke, i t i s not r e a l smoke, there i s no f i r e , no matter, strange h e l l that has no heat-ing, no denizens, perhaps i t ' s paradise, perhaps i t ' s the l i g h t of paradise. (359) Worm's nothingness i s that of one who has never l i v e d , and never w i l l l i v e . Such are those i n the Vestibule, who 104 "mai non fur v i v i " (Inf. 3.6k) ["were never a l i v e " ] . This non-existence endured by those who c i r c l e ceaselessly i n the Vestibule, a r r i v i n g nowhere, i s the fate meted out to Mahood. "One can spend one's l i f e thus , unable to l i v e , unable to bring to l i f e , and die i n vain, having done nothing, been nothing" (358)• I r o n i c a l l y , Mahood has the one thing those i n Dante's h e l l have l o s t i the good of the i n t e l l e c t . The Unnamable's every attempt to say himself has re-sulted i n f a i l u r e ; knowing he must f a i l he i s compelled to go on. His only hope now i s to say everything, for then he must surely sayhhimself. The paradise of the f i r s t word i s to be attained by climbing Babel, toward "the great confounding" (3^0) , "talking unceasingly, seeking incessant-l y , . . . cursing man, cursing god [ c f . Inf. 3.103-4], stop-ping cursing, past bearing i t , going on bearing i t , seeking indefatigably, . . . seeking who you are" (385)• Everything 1 0^Compare p. Jk6, "unliving, with no hope of death" with Inf. 3«46—"Questi non hanno speranza d i morte" ["These have no hope of death"]. 120 he says i s brought to the master of the tyrants, who observes him. "They bring him the verbatim report of the proceed-ings" ( 3 6 9 ) » just as Gaber brought Moran's report to his master. The Unnamable i s "on the brink" (410) l i k e a Belacqua who i s eternal i n time but who w i l l never transcend the temporal, a Belacqua who has no hope of redemption. And as long as the Unnamable i s i n time, he cannot hope to know a s e l f that only exists outside of time. He has only words, he i s " i n words, made of words" ( 3 8 6 ) , and "words f a i l " (411) to transcend, i f there are only words. But i f he exists only i n words, he must speak i n order to be able not to exists perhaps they have c a r r i e d me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, i f i t opens, i t w i l l be I, i t w i l l be the s i l e n c e , where I am, I don't know, I ' l l never know, i n the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I ' l l go on. ( 4 l 4 ) The Unnamable i s s t i l l on the threshold, l i k e his prede-cessors, waiting l i k e Belacqua to pass through the "porta" (Purgs. 4 . 1 2 9 ) • The four narratives come f u l l c i r c l e , but without transcendence. This i s the c i r c l e trod by the damneds the scenery changes buttthe road i s Ithe same. The four narratives represent an "unfinished a l l e g o r i c a l 105 progression," a progression toward absolute nothingness, 1 0^Angus Fletcher, Allegory (Ithacas 1 9 6 4 ) , quoted by Knapp, "Beckett's Allegory of the Uncreating Word," p. 7 2 . 121 a progression that w i l l never ends It only . . . remains [ f o r the Unnamable] to estab-l i s h i f he i s situated i n a paradise, a h e l l , or i n a neutral place, where, as i s the case, the laborious cycle of gestation w i l l repeat i t s e l f i n f i n i t e l y . 1 0 6 The Unnamable and his predecessors are i n the Vestibule. They have abandoned a l l hope from the moment they emerged through the portals of the womb to j o i n the l o s t ones, who dwell among the secret things. They must speak i n deformed tongues. They have no hope of death, and envy every other fate, f o r they have no name and must forever search for the s e l f obscure. T a g l i a f e r r i , Beckett . . . , p. 59. Compare Ingmar Bergman, who has remarked that when a r t was separated from r e l i g i o n " i t severed an umbilical cord and now l i v e s i t s own s t e r i l e l i f e ' , generating and degenerating i t s e l f . " See his "Introduction" to The Seventh Seal? A Film, trans. Lars Malmstrom and David Kushner (New York: Simon and Schuster, I 9 6 0 ) , p. 8 . 1 0 ? T h e characters i n A l l That F a l l are also i n the Vestibule, -inf. 3.64-9 and 1 0 3 - 5 are especially pertinent to t h i s play. There i s also a d i r e c t a l l u s i o n to the sor-cerers i n Inf. 2 0 , which canto has fascinated Beckett ever since "Dante and the Lobster." CHAPTER TEN WAITING FOR GODOT The Dantean influence i s not overtly present i n 108 Waiting for Godot, but the play does evoke both the In-ferno and the Purgatorio. As the t i t l e states, waiting i s the basis of the characters' existence, and as such, i n the Dantean context, t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i s e s s e n t i a l l y purgatorial, Purgatory being the place where the penitent waits u n t i l released into Paradise. Yet, i f no one comes to release them, they would wait there forever i n a grim parody of the Inferno, and i t i s th i s s i t u a t i o n which the play e x p l o i t s . As i n the t r i l o g y , the characters are tr y i n g to f i n d i f they are i n fac t i n Paradise, Purgatory or H e l l , or i n some neutral place (corresponding to the Vestibule). The opening of the play, with i t s "road" and i t s "tree" i s the barest evocation of the opening of the Inferno. The purgatorial motif asserts i t s e l f immediately with Estragon 108 Beckett, Waiting f o r Godot (New York. Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 5 4 ) . Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. Since pages are numbered only on the l e f t side, they w i l l be referred to as "a" ( l e f t ) and "b" ( r i g h t ) . 109 C o l m Duckworth, i n "Godot. Genesis and Composition," [En Attendant Godot (London: George G. Harrap, 1966), pp. I v i i - l x J suggests that Godot might be Satan, since i f he did keep his appointment with the tramps, he would have to cross the swamp which Duckworth claims i s the Marsh of Styx, and, i t i s implied, only Satan could come from that d i r e c t i o n . (How Satan would be unthawed i s not explained). The quota-tions adduced from Dante do not support his contention, and his desire to f i x precisely each element i n the play denies i t s ambiguity, and thereby the play i t s e l f . 110 " s i t t i n g on a low mound" (£a) i n what i s l a t e r described as a " f o e t a l posture" (45a; c f . 56bi>, which r e c a l l s B e l -acqua. Vladimir and Estragon lead a h e l l i s h existence. Estragon sleeps i n a ditch, and i s beaten regularly. The universe i s a nightmare, a muckheap, where some are "plunged i n torment, plunged i n f i r e " (28b). The two tramps are surrounded by "dead voices" (40b), and f e e l that even "to be dead i s not enough." "I'm i n h e l l J " (47b) says E s t r a -gon, who walks with a limp, l i k e Dante l o s t i n the dark wood (Inf. 1 . 3 0 ; see above p. 25 , n.29). Estragon, l i k e Vladimir, i s l o s t , waiting for Godot to lead him out of the dark wood of unknowing. Unlike those i n h e l l , Vladimir and Estragon have not 111 "abandoned a l l hope;" f o r them "hope [ i s ] deferred" (8a). They are vaguely aware of some g u i l t , and, l i k e those i n the t r i l o g y , they place t h e i r g u i l t i n having been born. The major event i n both acts i s the entrance of Pozzo and Lucky. In Act I, Pozzo enters whipping on the b r i d l e d Lucky. Whips and b r i d l e s are a major feature of the Purga-t o r i o . The whips (Purg. 13*39) are the examples of virt u e presented to the penitents, the b r i d l e s (Purg. 13.40) the 1 1 0 T h e a l l u s i o n i s more s p e c i f i c i n French, where Estragon i s "assis sur une p i e r r e . " See En attendant  Godot (Paris? Editions de Minuit, 1952), p. 9 . ^^"This a l l u s i o n to Prov. 13.12„("Hope deferred makes the heart s i c k , but a desire f u l f i l l e d i s a tree of l i f e " ) , i s noteworthy because the "tree of l i f e " appears i n Act I I . 124 examples of the vice punished. Pozzo, however, does not use his whip and b r i d l e to advance along the road to s a l -vation* he i s i n fact heading toward the " f a i r " (21b). The name "Pozzo" i t s e l f has a Dantean s i g n i f i c a n c e . The I t a l i a n f o r "well" or "cesspool," i t i s used by Dante (Inf. 31*32) to describe the o r i f i c e which houses the giants, who c o l l e c t i v e l y represent brute appetite, a description which f i t s Pozzo. I f Pozzo i s appetite*? Lucky i s i n t e l l e c t , and i n his speech we see that faculty stripped of a l l pretension of knowledge. Lucky spews out his words compulsively, l i k e those i n h e l l who are compelled to reply to questions asked by Dante. The f i r s t act ends, as does the second, with the vignette involving the l i t t l e boy, messenger of Godot. Given Godot's god-like function i n the l i v e s of the tramps, the boy can be seen to represent an angel. As such, he r e c a l l s the angel who, once the penitent has been purged of a p a r t i c u l a r s i n , conducts him to the next cornice, where he w i l l again undergo the purgative process (for a di f f e r e n t s i n ) . The implication i n Godot i s that t h i s process w i l l take place ad infinitum, the tramps never reaching that ultimate state of transcendence to which they have given the name "Godot." Act II opens with the flowering of the tree which was bare of l i f e the preceding day. This i s perhaps the c l e a r -125 est a l l u s i o n to the Pur gat or i o , where, i n the Earthly-Paradise, the Tree of Knowledge bursts into blossom when touched by the pole of the Chariot of the Church. A l l e g o r i -c a l l y , t h i s s i g n i f i e s that when Christ, the second Adam (the chariot pole) i s unitedwwith the f i r s t Adam (the t r e e ) , man's dead nature (the barren tree) i s given new l i f e . That the tree flowers between acts indicates that i t s importance l i e s not i n i t s miraculous flowering, but i n the mysterious fact that i t was barren one day and leafy the next. Estragon, as an "Adam" (25a) who has f a l l e n but has not been redeemed, finds the tree not the source of a l l meaning, as the Cross was to the C h r i s t i a n age, but a source of mystery and of misery, for i t s inexplicable flowering only indicates that time, monster of damnation, has passed, but that "they do not move" ( 6 0 b ) . Theirs i s the s t a s i s of h e l l . Like the song Vladimir sings (37a-b), t h e i r l i v e s go on forever, and are forever unfinished. They must wait f o r Godot to f i n d i f they are damned or saved. U n t i l that time they are neither, and they c i r c l e f u t i l e l y i n the vestibule of a h e l l no longer there. CHAPTER ELEVEN ENDGAME The f a i l u r e inherent i n Hamm and Clov's attempt to 112 make an end i s evident i n the t i t l e , Endgame, for i n the endgame movements of chess, the King i s checked— rendered unable to move—but never leaves the board. The t i t l e also suggests that what we are to see i s a drama of which only the l a s t moments of the l a s t scene are to be played; a scene doomed to be endlessly repeated. This i s a play about l a s t things, about the moment before a judge-ment that i s never pronounced. Endgame i s an extension and reduction of Godot; i t is more d e f i n i t e l y i n f e r n a l . The play opens with the sug-gestion that the characters are s u f f e r i n g f o r untold s i n s . "I can't be punished any more" (1) says Clov. Hamm posits that they are a l l "down i n a hole," and l i k e the damned, Hamm curses his parents ( 9 ; c f . Inf. 3 . 1 0 3 ) . Whereas Vladimir and Estragon looked without f o r meaning and suc-cour, i n Endgame there i s nothing outside. Hamm and Clov are degenerate, l i k e t h e i r universe. They l i v e with Nagg and N e l l , who are a grotesque reduction of Paolo and Fran-cesca (Inf. 5)» forever stalemated i n unconsummated love, and bound by l i k e memories of the past. The deadly s i t u a t i o n 112 Beckett, Endgame (Grove Bress, Inc., 1 9 5 8 ) . Sub-sequent references to th i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 127 i n which Nagg and N e l l f i n d themselves i s akin to that at the bottom of the Inferno (3*0 where the souls of those s t i l l l i v i n g are frozen i n the ice of Cocytus. This i s the "Tolomea" of which Beckett wrote i n Proust (p. 40), the Tolomea of the mind; and as Hamm remarks, "Beyond i s the . . . other h e l l " ( 2 6 ) . H e l l i s a l l around. Death i s looked upon as being perhaps the only way out. At one point, the two discuss how Hamm would know i f Clov were dead. Clov states that i f the alarm clock were not wound thi s would be evidence enough that Clov were dead. To prove that the alarm works, Clov sets i t of f , saying, " F i t to wake the dead" (48). Here then i s the c a l l of the Universal Judgement, which i s that they are not judged, f o r l i k e those i n the vestibule they have not l i v e d . "Do you believe i n the l i f e to come" (49) asks Clov. "Mine was always that," r e p l i e s Hamm. "What Hamm sees i s that waiting i s the f i n a l l o s i n g game, that waiting i s i t s e l f damnation: for one waits either for 113 damnation or salvation, and both are impossible." The i m p o s s i b i l i t y of damnation or salvation i n the Vestibule i s mirrored by Clov's i n a b i l i t y to leave the stage at the close of the play. Once again, Beckett's character finds himself on the threshold of judgement. Clov remarks, "they said to me, Come now, you're not a 113 Stanley Cavell, "Ending the Waiting Game," i n Must We Mean What We Say?(New York: Scribner's, I 9 6 9 ) , p. 150. brute beast, think upon these things [beauty and order] and y o u ' l l see how a l l becomes c l e a r " ( 8 0 ) . The reference to the "brute beast" r e c a l l s Ulysses' speech to his men before they set out again on t h e i r f i n a l voyage, the voyage that ends i n h e l l . In the speech, Ulysses says, " ' f a t t i non foste a vi v e r come b r u t i * " (Inf. 26.119) ["'you were not created to l i v e l i k e brutes'"]. Beckett's reference to this l i n e i s doubly i r o n i c ; i t seems that Hamm and Clov were made for nothing else but to l i v e l i k e beasts, yet, unlike beasts, they have reason, which no brute beast has, and therefore they have aspirations toward something else. The reference to Ulysses also r e c a l l s the theme of words as punishment, as they are f o r Hamm and Clov, who, l i k e the characters i n the t r i l o g y , have "nothing to say" ( 7 9 ) , yet must use words which "don't mean anything any more" (44) to say that nothing. They beg for an end to the i l l u s i o n created by words—ISLet's stop playing" ( 7 7 ) — y e t cannot abandon those i l l u s i o n s , among which are beauty and order. There are no great seas of knowledge, of beauty, or order, that remain to be t r a v e l l e d . In th i s shrunken universe, only the void remains to be explored, the void of the s e l f , to which there i s no end. CHAPTER TWELVE HOW IT IS "Quanto a d i r qual era e cosa dura" (Inf. 1.4) ["It i s hard to say how i t was"] says Dante at the opening of his poem, r e c a l l i n g the dark wood and h e l l i t s e l f . Yet now, as he begins to write his poem, he i s beyond a l l that, He can step outside his poem, as he does i n Michelino's famous painting, because he has made an end. To make that end, Dante had to transcend himself, or, to use his own word, he was "transhumanized" ("trasumanar," Par. 1.70). Beckett's Bom, however, can only t e l l us how i t i s , f o r he has not yet transcended himself. 114 How I t Is takes place i n the mud and o r d u r e - f i l l e d 115 world of the t h i r d and fourth c i r c l e s of h e l l * Io sono a l terzo cerchio, d e l l a piova etterna, maladetta, fredda e greve; regola e qual i t a mai non l'e nova. Grandine grossa, acqua t i n t a e neve per l'aere tenebroso s i r i v e r s a ; pute l a t e r r a che questo r i c e v e . Urlar l i f a l a pioggia come canis dell'un de' l a t i fanno a l l ' a l t r o schermo; volgonsi spesso i miseri profani. (Inf. 6 . 7 - 1 2 ; 19-21) F i t t i n e l limo, dicon: ' T r i s t i fummo nell'aere dolce che dal s o l s ' a l l e g r a , portando dentro accidioso fummo: 114 Beckett, How I t Is (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 6 4 ) . Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. 1 1 5 N o t e also Inf. 18 .106-8; 112-114. 130 or c i a t t r i s t i a m n e l l a b e l l e t t a negra.' Quest*inno s i gorgolian n e l l a strozza, che d i r noi posson con parola integra.* (Inf. 7 .121-6) [ l am i n the t h i r d c i r c l e , with r a i n , eternal, damn-able, cold and heavy, whose measure and quality never vary. Huge hailstones, f o u l water and snow pour through the shadowy a i r ; the ground stinks on which i t f a l l s . . . . The r a i n makes them [the sinners] howl l i k e dogs. Trying to s h i e l d one side with the other, these miserable damned must turn often.] [immersed i n that slime, they say, *We were s u l l e n i n the sweet a i r made happy by the sun, for we fumed sluggishly insolde; and we are s t i l l sad<?!in t h i s black ooze.' This hymn they gurgle i n t h e i r throats, un-able to say c l e a r l y even one word.] In these scenes Dante conveys the lack of communication between the sinners, t h e i r i n a b i l i t y to express themselves with words and, i n the du n g - f i l l e d ditch of the eighth c i r c l e , the corruption of the words themselves. Beckett's novel i s a response to a l l of these conditions, but he emphasizes consciousness as the tormenting quality, a consciousness which expresses i t s e l f through words. As 116 Vladimir says, "What i s t e r r i b l e i s to have thogght." Consciousness leads to self-examination, thereby o b j e c t i -f y i n g the s e l f , and a l i e n a t i n g one from oneself. The search for that s e l f requires the Other to witness i t , and yet consciousness alienates the s e l f from the Other. Bom's search for himself involves his search f o r Pirn, and the novel i s divided into three parts i before, with Waiting for Godot, p. 4 l b . 131 and a f t e r Pirn. This t r i p a r t i t e d i v i s i o n r e c a l l s the Commedia's and represents Bom's attempt to i n s t i l order (al b e i t spurious) into the chaos of his world. The de-si r e d order of before, with and a f t e r represents a progression, yet there i s no progress i n the mud, and there i s no end. Bom's world i s one without order, i n which the paradigms of the Bible and the Commedia—both predicated upon the order of before, with, and a f t e r — a r e out of place. I f Bom i s to r e a l l y t e l l how i t i s , then he must picture t h i s unordered world, t h i s chaotic wallowing i n the mud. When he makes an end, he w i l l r e a l i z e his apocalypse, and chaos as apocalypse i s the Apocalypse without C h r i s t , the apocai lypse of a world not to be redeemed: [Beckett] i s the perverse theologian of a world which has suffered a F a l l , experienced an Incarnation which changes a l l relations of past, present, and future, but which w i l l not be redeemed. Time i s an endless t r a n s i t i o n from one condition of. misery to another, •a passion without form or stat i o n s , ' to be ended by no parousia. It i s a world crying out for forms and stations, and for apocalypse; a l l i t gets i s vain temporality, mad, multiform a n t i t h e t i c a l i n f l u x . Words represent the attempt to order the world, yet that order i s spurious because the words are themselves i n s u f f i c i e n t to describe the world. " I t a l l depends on what i s not sai d " (37) says Bom, for he wants to say what 117 Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967). P* 1 : L5» his words cannot, nothing, " a l l s e l f to be abandoned say-nothing when nothing" (83). Because Bom exists only i n his words ("if nothing I invent must keep busy otherwise death" [81]), he must not only say nothing, but be nothing at the same time, l i k e Worm. Yet, i r o n i c a l l y , he must exist i n order to speak, "no more I ' l l hear no more see no more yes I must to make an end" ( 1 0 6 ) . There i s again the suggestion of an "unfinished a l l e g o r i c a l progressions'" the pun contained i n the French t i t l e Comment c'est suggests that t h i s progression w i l l continue forevers "When you think of the couple we were Pirn and I part two and s h a l l be again part s i x ten fourteen so on each time" (121). There i s also the implication, as i n the t r i l o g y , that a l l the characters are ones "each one of us i s at the same time Bom and Pirn tormentor and tormented pedant and dunce wooer and wooed speechless and r e a f f l i c t e d with speech" (140). They move on i n the same h e l l i s h c i r c l e . "You begin again a l l over more or less i n the same place" (22) and that place i s " f a m i l i a r i n spite of i t s strange-nesses." Each part of How I t Is i s the same as the nexts i n a world without end, before, with and a f t e r are meaning-l e s s , and where there are only words the e s s e n t i a l does not change. The es s e n t i a l i s h e l l , and i t s "secret things" (84) ["le segrete cose," Inf. 3-21] are the words which are spoken there. As i n the t r i l o g y the words are the agents 133 of torment. Bom cuts his name into Pirn's "arse" ( 6 0 ) ; the words bleed as they do from the suicides i n that grotesque forest i n h e l l (Inf. 1 3 . 4 3 - 4 4 ) . Bom refers to his previous existence(s) as "the other above i n the l i g h t " ( 8 ) , as Dante i n h e l l speaks of having come from " ' l a su d i sopra, i n l a v i t a serena'" (Inf. 1 5 . 49) ["'up above i n the bright l i f e ' " ] . But, l i k e those i n h e l l , Bom r e a l i z e s t t h a t there i s "no going back up t h e r e " — "'gia mai d i questo fondo / non torno vivo alcun*" (Inf. 2 7 . 64 - 5 ) ["'never out of these depths / has any l i v i n g one returned'"]. Knowing that he cannot evade th i s torment, Bom con-tinues onward, only to regress, for he searches not for the paradise to come (a paradise as certa i n as Godot), but f o r the one he has known, the pre-natal "paradise before the hoping" ( 2 3 ) . His road to Paradise runs through H e l l , as did Dante's, but since there i s no paradise, he remains i n h e l l , crawling "towards the wall the d i t c h " ( 1 6 ) , which r e c a l l the wall of the City of Dis and the d i t c h - l i k e bolge i t encloses (Inf. 9 f f . ) . This i s the ess e n t i a l mode of Bom's existence; he i s l i k e a "Belacqua f a l l e n over on his side t i r e d of waiting forgotten of the hearts where grace abides asleep" ( 2 4 ) . This image of a Belacqua " t i r e d of waiting" duplicates the state of those i n the Vestibule, and i t i s here that Beckett places Bom and the others. They are "not i n the' lowest depths" but "on the edge" (20), which i s to say they are " i n the Vestibule" (44). Neither damned nor saved, they do not know whether to "curse God or bless him" (40). Bom i s described as "holding i n [ h i s ] mouth the horizontal s t a f f of a vast banner" (36) which r e c a l l s the one behind which the F u t i l e run (Inf. 3 . 5 2 ) . Like the F u t i l e , "even b i r t h [ i s ] lacking" (104; c f . Inf. 3.64), and there "one doesn't die" (93? c f . Inf. 3.46). Bom's s i t u a t i o n i s hopeless because he i s "seeking that which [he has] l o s t there where [he has] never been" (4?). In part two, he finds Pirn, and a "new l i f e " (62). But the " v i t a nuova" i s a penalty, a torment. Bom does not want a "new l i f e " but the old l i f e he had i n the womb. The second part ends with Bom and Pirn locked i n an embrace of eternal torment. " I ' l l stay where I am yes glued to him yes tormenting him yes eternally yes" (98) says Bom, r e c a l l i n g the pairs of tormentors i n h e l l . The t h i r d part relates the same d e t a i l s as the f i r s t two. Bom i s one of " l a perduta gente" (Inf. 3 . 3 ) ["the l o s t ones"] who must try to t e l l how i t i s of a world and of a s e l f they do not know. CHAPTER THIRTEEN THE LOST ONES Only one name appears i n the sixty-three pages of Beckett's most recently published work of prose f i c t i o n ; 11 i t i s the name of Dante. The t i t l e i t s e l f , The Lost Ones, i s an a l l u s i o n to the i n s c r i p t i o n over the gates of h e l l , which describes those beyond as " l a perduta gente" (Inf. 3 . 3 ) - The round rubber cylinder i n which the action of the story takes place i s l i k e one of h e l l ' s c i r c l e s s l i c e d away from the others. The c i r c l e i s that one containing the Vestibule of h e l l . Beckett's d i c t i o n i n t h i s story i s remarkable. After the incoherent gurglings of How It Is and the sparse mut-terings of Lessness, we have i n The Lost Ones b r i l l i a n t l y sharp sentences, complete with punctuation, connectives, and an omniscient narrator. The allusio n s are more di r e c t than i n the previous works, also. The story consists of various descriptions of the cylinder and i t s inhabitants. Information i s given, then elaborated upon. F i n a l l y , allone survivor i s posited; he is described very b r i e f l y , and the story ends with an almost naked bathos. Numbers are used i n thi s story (as i n Imagination  Dead Imagine) to negate the imagination; numbers state, they do not suggest. The climate of the cylinder i n which •I -I o Beckett, The Lost Ones (New York, Grove Press, Inc., 1972). Subsequent references to t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l appear i n the text. the action takes place i s c o n t r o l l e d — a s i s everything else c o n t r o l l e d — s o that " i t o s c i l l a t e s . . . between hot and cold" ( 8 ) . Those i n h e l l also must s u f f e r the torments of being " ' i n caldo e 'n gelo'" (Inf. 3 . 8 7 ) [ M , i n f i r e and i c e ' " ] . This climate has i t s obvious e f f e c t s , and "the bodies brush together with a r u s t l e of dry leaves," which r e c a l l s Dante's description of the sinners who wait to be f e r r i e d across Acheron. Come d'autunno s i levan l e f o g l i e similmente i l mal seme d'Adamo g i t t a n s i d i quel l i t o ad una ad una. (Inf. 3.112; 115-6) [As i n autumn the leaves f a l l . . . so the cursed seed of Adam casts i t s e l f from the shore, one by one.] The one motivating force of a l l these people i s "the need to climb" (10). This need serves to divide them into four major groups* those who move perpetually, those who pause, those who s i t i n one spot and s t i r occasionally, and, "fourthly those who do not search or non-searchers s i t t i n g for the most part against the wall i n the attitude which wrung from Dante one of his rare wan smiles" (14). The attitude i s of course the f o e t a l p o s i t i o n assumed by Belacqua, the sight of whom, Dante say, "mosser l e labbra mie un poco a r i s o " (Purg. 4.122) ["moved my l i p s a l i t t l e to smile"]. Since the one need i s to climb, the " f i f t e e n single ladders propped against the wall at i r r e g u l a r i n t e r v a l s " (1?) take on great importance. In the heaven of Saturn, Dante sees a golden ladder upon which throng the contemp-l a t i v e s t di color d'oro i n che raggio traluce v i d ' i o uno scaleo eretto i n suso tanto, che noi seguiva l a mia luce. (Par. 21.28-30) [I saw a ladder the color of gold that r e f l e c t s l i g h t , reaching so high that my gaze,could not follow i t . J This ladder, representing s p i r i t u a l transcendence, leads ultimately to the Empyrean, and those who climb the ladders in the cylinder have a s i m i l a r goal. "From time immemorial rumour has i t or better s t i l l the notion i s abroad that there exists a way out" (17-18). One group contemplates a secret passage, "the other dreams of a trapdoor hidden in the hub of the c e i l i n g giving access to a flu e at the end of which the sun and other stars would s t i l l be shining" (18). This would be t h e i r paradise, the place where, as the a l l u s i o n suggests, they would f i n d "l'amor che move i l sole e l ' a l t r e s t e l l e " (Par. 33-1-+5) ["the love that moves the sun and other s t a r s " ] . The way out i s only a rumour, yet they continue to climb. The ladder c a r r i e r s c i r c l e the wall, l i k e those i n h e l l , as do the searchers, each i n t h e i r respective rings. They .''never know a moment's r e s t " ( 3 6 ) , l i k e those who, 138 i n the Vestibule, run behind the banner "che d'ogni posa . . . parea indegna" (Inf. 3 - 5 4 ) ["that seemed unworthy of a moment's r e s t " ] . The cylinder qua closed system i s a model for the work of a r t , "for i n the cylinder alone are certitudes to be found and without nothing buj> mystery" (42). Yet the certitudes within are valued only i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to elucidate the mysteries without. The work of art i s seen as a mode which i s valued only i n i t s function to take the l o s t ones beyond i t , and yet, i r o n i c a l l y , i t cannot be transcended. "So on i n f i n i t e l y u n t i l towards the unthinkable end i f t h i s notion i s maintained a l a s t body of a l l by feeble 119 f i t s and s t a r t s i s searching s t i l l " ( 6 0 ) . He makes his way toward "that f i r s t among the vanquished so often taken for a guide" ( 6 2 ) . Now a l l has come to an end, and with i t t h i s lone searcher. He bows his head, just as "one f i r s t of whom i f a man i n some unthinkable past for the f i r s t time bowed his head" ( 6 3 ) . Is Beckett the l a s t of these searchers, and was Dante the f i r s t of those who, at the sight of the l o s t ones, bowed his head, Kc;o.n l i occhi vergognosi e bassi " (Inf. 3 - 7 9 ) ["with shamed and lowered eyes"]? 119 Lessness explores t h i s s i t u a t i o n . C H A P T E R F O U R T E E N C O N C L U S I O N S e v e n h u n d r e d y e a r s a g o , i n a n a n a c h r o n i s m e v e n t u a l l y d e t e c t e d , D a n t e p r e p a r e d a p l a c e f o r B e c k e t t ' s m i s e r a b l e s i n n e r s . E x a m i n i n g o l t r e t o m b a t h e r e s u l t s o f m o r a l c h o i c e , D a n t e a l s o p r o v i d e d f o r t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f . n o n - c h o i c e , o f f u t i l e i n d i f f e r e n c e . S i n c e t o b e w a s t o c h o o s e , t h o s e i n h e l l ' s V e s t i b u l e ( I n f . 3) w e r e r e p r e s e n t e d a s h a v i n g n e v e r l i v e d , a n d , s i n c e i n l i f e t h e y w e r e o n t h e t h r e s h o l d o f b e i n g , s o i n d e a t h t h e y a r e o n t h e t h r e s h o l d o f j u d g e m e n t . O u r s t u d y o f t h e i n f l u e n c e o f D a n t e o n B e c k e t t h a s r e v e a l e d t h a t a l t h o u g h B e c k e t t d r a w s o n a l l o f D a n t e ' s w o r k s , B e l a c q u a ( P u r g . 4) i s h i s m a j o r p o i n t o f r e f e r e n c e i n t h e e a r l i e r w o r k s , a n d , f r o m t h e t r i l o g y o n , t h a t p o i n t s h i f t s t o t h e V e s t i b u l e . B e c k e t t n e v e r f o r g e t s B e l a c q u a , b u t h i s a l l u s i o n s t o t h a t c h a r a c t e r i n d i c a t e a c h a n g e i n a t t i t u d e , f r o m o n e w h i c h a d m i t t e d h o p e t o o n e o f d e s p a i r , f r o m a B e l a c q u a w h o w a i t s f o r a s i g n t o a B e l a c q u a f a l l e n o v e r o n h i s s i d e , t i r e d o f w a i t i n g . I n d i c a t i v e o f t h i s c h a n g e i n a t t i t u d e a r e B e c k e t t ' s a l l u s i o n s t o B e a t r i c e , w h o m a k e s h e r l a s t a p p e a r a n c e i n t h e g u i s e o f C e l i a t h e w h o r e . I n t h e t r i l o g y , l o v e i s a s s i g n e d t o t h e d u m p , w h e r e M o l l o y q u e s t i o n s i f i t i s t r u e l o v e o r n o t . 140 The doubt concerning the nature of love i s a r a m i f i -cation of the doubt concerning the existence of God, and t h i s doubt represents the greatest schism between the worlds of Beckett and Dante. Without the Logos, the a r t i s t , writing in the t r a d i t i o n of allegory, achieves only confusion. Obliged to express Nothing, the ultimate r e a l i t y , with words, the a r t i s t can only f a i l . Yet he i s obliged to go on, abstracting his being toward e s s e n t i a l nothingness, a goal which recedes with each word he speaks. Aldo T a g l i a f e r r i c i t e s four major themes i n Beckett's works, motion and s t a s i s , l i g h t and dark, word and s i l e n c e , external and i n t e r n a l . Dante's importance i n Beckett's work i s c l e a r l y indicated by the fact that the Commedia figures i n Beckett's development of each of these themes. The c i r c l i n g of the damned i s a precise metaphor fo r the motion-in-stasis that characterizes Beckett's questers. Light and dark imagery, central to the Commedia, i s used by Beckett to indicate the outer and inner worlds, respec-t i v e l y . His characters search out the dark inner world, which has i n f e r n a l implications when viewed i n the Dantean frame. Beckett's concept of words as punishment has been shown to derive i n large part from the Inferno (especially cantos 13 and 2 6 ) , and that Paradisal state of silence i s aspired to by a l l of his characters who are a f f l i c t e d with speech. The search for the microcosmic inner state has been a theme of Beckett's works since More Pricks than Kicks. In 141 the Commedia Dante i s also searching for an inner state, for his journey i s ultimately a journey through his own soul. In his c r i t i c i s m , Beckett states that the poet must descend to the essence, as he says Dante did. Beckett reveals other themes i n his c r i t i c i s m which he explores i n his subsequent f i c t i o n . Among these themes i s the idea of a freedom that requires submission, of a process of ab-s t r a c t i o n that admits of no end, and of the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of att a i n i n g a paradisal state. A l l of these themes are stated i n the context of the Commedia and i t s author. Beckett's a l l u s i o n s to the Commedia are predominantly to the Inferno; they concretize the theme of h e l l as present r e a l i t y . Thus, i n How It Is the landscape of the t h i r d and fourth c i r c l e s of h e l l i s evoked, but not the attend-ant punishments or moral considerations. H e l l , i s , quite simply, a metaphor for l i f e . Opposed to t h i s h e l l i s the pre-natal state which Belacqua represents. This "Belacqua fantasy" receives i t s clearest statement i n Murphy. Ironic-a l l y , Belacqua*s state depends on a universal eschatologi-c a l system which Beckett's world denies. The Commedia provides an i r o n i c framework i n both Watt and Three Novels. In addition, Beckett alludes to the Commedia i n his t r i l o g y to indicate the t r a d i t i o n of allegory i n which he i s writing. Whereas Dante sought to express the a l l of a l l , Beckett seeks to express the a l l of 142 nothing. Thus, the four narratives can be read i n terms of the a r t i s t ' s descent into the s e l f . Since each narrator in the t r i l o g y moves ever more deeply into the s e l f , c l o s e r to the essence of being, each narrative represents a higher l e v e l of abstraction than the preceding. Since the essence of these beings i s nothing, they consider knowledge superfluous. Like those i n the Inferno, they await the end of time and the concurrent death of knowledge (Inf. 10.100-8). This w i l l be the timeless state of t h e i r true selfhood. This Dantean passage i s s i g n i f i -cant i n another respect. The damned see only the past and the future, not the present. They thus lack that vantage point from which Dante could see his former s e l f and look forward to his new s e l f . Although Malone writes of Mac-mann as Dante the poet wrote of Dante the pilgrim, Malone and his avatars are inseparable, and Malone i s constantly attempting to esta b l i s h the present. Only death w i l l t e l l him who he i s , yet at that point he can t e l l nothing. The essence of damnation i n Beckett's cosmos i s that there i s no damnation. His characters wait on the threshold of judgement; knowing that one t h i e f was saved and one damned, they await the Godot who w i l l judge them as one or the other. The a l l u s i o n s to the Inferno and the Purgatorio i n Godot suggest some ancient order which no longer obtains, but the memory of which s t i l l governs the tramps' l i v e s . 143 That "ancient voice" i n Beckett i s Dante's. It i s a voice which Beckett at once denies yet requires i f he i s to speak at a l l . Beckett places himself i n the Dantean cylinder yet directs his every e f f o r t toward escape. Beck-ett works within a t r a d i t i o n represented hy the Commedia, and I have viewed him i n that way. It was i n fact the 120 discussion of Beckett i n a c r i t i c a l work on Dante that suggested t h i s thesis to me. I f t h i s thesis at times appears to he Dante's commentary on Beckett, the f a u l t i s not a l -ways my own. For today men l i v e and die much as they did seven hundred years ago. They suff e r , they aspire to a better state, they question t h e i r existence, and ultimately they do not know* We are proud i n our pain our l i f e was not b l i n d . Worms breed i n t h e i r red tears as they slouch unnamed scorned by the black ferry despairing of death who s h a l l not scour i n swift joy the bright h i l l ' s g i r d l e nor tremble with the dark pride of torture and the b i t t e r dignity of an ingenious damnation. Olaf Lagercrantz, From H e l l to Paradise, trans. Alan B l a i r (New Yorki Washington Square Press, 1966). Beckett, "Text," quoted i n Lawrence E. Harvey, Samuel Beckett; Poet and C r i t i c , pp. 294-5. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by Beckett A l l That F a l l . Londoni Faber and Faber, 1 9 5 ? . Breath, and Other Shorts. Londoni Faber and Faber, 1971. Cascando, and Other Short Dramatic Pieces. New York-Grove Press, Inc., 19W. " "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce." Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. London« Faber and Faber, 1929. En Attendant Godot. Paris t Les Editions de Minuit, 1952. Endgame. New York. Grove Press, Inc., 1958. First Love. London« Calder and Boyars, 1973. Happy Days. New Yorki Grove Press, inc., 1 9 6 1 . How It Is. New York Grove Press, Inc., 196*+. Krapp's Last Tape and Embers. London1 Faber and Faber, 1959. Lessness. London1 Calder and Boyars, 1970. More Pricks Than Kicks. 2nd ed., 193**; rpt. New York; Grove Press, Inc., 1972. Murphy. 2nd ed., 1938; rpt. New Yorki Grove Press, 1957. No's Knife, Collected Shorter Prose 1945 - 1966. Londoni Calder and Boyars, 1967. Not I. Londoni Faber, 1973. "Papini's Dante." The Bookman, 87 (1934), 14, Play and Two Short Pieces for Radio. Londoni Faber and FaBer, l?5*n 145 Poems i n English* New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1961 . Proust. 2nd ed., 1931* r p t . New York. Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 5 7 . "Sedendo et Quiescendo." t r a n s i t i o n , 21 ( 1 9 3 2 ) , 1 3 - 2 0 . Stories and Texts for Nothing. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 6 7 . The Lost Ones. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 7 2 . Three Novelst Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable. New Yorki Grove Press, Inc., 1 9 6 5 . Waiting for Godot. New Yorki Grove Press, Inc., 1954 . Watt. 2nd ed., 1953$ r p t . Londoni Calder and Boyars, 1 9 7 2 . Works by Dante The Canzoniere, trans. E. H. Plumptre. Londoni I s b i s t e r and Co. Ltd., 1 8 9 9 . The Comedy of Dante A l i g h i e r i , the Florentine, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds. 3 vols. Harmondsworthi Penguin Books, I 9 4 9 - I 9 6 2 . The Convivio of Dante A l i g h i e r i , trans. P. H. Wicksteed. Londoni J . M. Dent, 1 9 0 3 . Dante's Ly r i c Poetry, ed. and trans. K. Foster and P. Boyde. Oxfordi Oxford University Press, 1 9 6 7 . The Divine Comedy of Dante A l i g h i e r i , trans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 4 v o l s . New Yorki National Library Company, 1 9 0 9 . La Divina Commedia, a cura di Natalino Sapegno. 3 v o l s . Firenzei La Nuova I t a l i a , 1 9 6 8 . La V i t a Nuova, trans. Barbara Reynolds. Harmondsworthi Penguin Books, I 9 6 9 . 146 La v i t a nuova, con una s c e l t a dalle a l t r e opere minori, a cura d i Natalino SapegnoT l i l a n o j Mursia, 196b. L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m of Dante A l i g h i e r i , trans, and ed. Robert S. H a l l e r . Lincoln. University of Nebraska Press, 1973-A Translation of the L a t i n Works of Dante A l i g h i e r i : The De Vulgari Eloquentia, De Monarchia, EpisTles, and Eclogues, and the QuaestTo de Aqua et Terra, trans. A. G. F. Howell and P. H. Wicksteed. London: J . M. Dent, 1904. The V i s i o n of Dante, trans. H. F. Cary. London: George Newnes Ltd., 1844. C r i t i c a l and Other Works Abbott, H. Porter. The F i c t i o n of Samuel Beckett: Form and E f f e c t . Berkeley: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, A. E. [George Ru s s e l l ] . The Candle of V i s i o n . New York: University Books, 1965* Alvarez, A. Beckett. London: Fontana/Collins, 1 9 7 3 . . The Savage God* A Study of Suicide. New York* Random House, 1 9 7 0 . Anon. "Beckett, Samuel (Barclay)." Current Biography, 1 9 7 0 , pp. 3 0 - 3 3 . Anon. "Beckett up the Pole." Times Li t e r a r y Supplement, 16 May 1 9 6 8 , p. 5 0 4 . Aretino, Leonardo Bruni. " L i f e of Dante." The E a r l i e s t  Lives of Dante, trans. J . R. Smith. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1 9 6 3 , pp. 7 9 - 1 0 0 . Auden, W. H. A Certain World. New York: Viking Press, 1 9 7 0 . Auerbach, E r i c h . Dante: Poet of the Secular World, trans. Ralph Manheim. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1 9 6 1 . Barbi, Michele. L i f e of Dante, trans, and ed. Paul G. Ruggiers. Berkeley and Los Angeles* University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1954 . 147 Barnard, G. C. Samuel Beckettt A New Approach, London: Dent, 1970. Bergin, Thomas G. Dante's "Divine Comedy.8" New Jersey* Prentice-Hall, 1 9 7 1 . Bergman, Ingmar. The Seventh Seal: A Film, trans. Lars Malmstrom and David Kushner. New York: Simon and Schuster, i 9 6 0 . Boccaccio, Giovanni. " L i f e of Dante." The E a r l i e s t Lives of Dante, trans. J . R. Smith. NewTork: Frederick" Ungar Publishing Co., 1963, pp. 9 - 7 8 . Borges, Jorge Luis. Other Inquis i t i o n s . New York* Washington Square Press, 1966. Brandeis, Irma, ed. Discussions of "The Divine Comedy." Boston: D. C. Heath and Co., 1961. Burgess, Anthony. The Novel Now. London: Faber and Faber, 1967. Cambon, Glauco. Dante's Craft: Studies i n Language and  Style. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1 9 6 9 7 C a r r o l l , John S. Exiles of Eternity : An Exposition of  Dante's "Inferno." London* Hodder and Stoughton, 1904. Cattanei, G. Beckett, n.p.: II Castoro, 1967* Cavell, Stanley. "Ending the Waiting Game: A Reading of Beckett's Endgame." Must We Mean What We Say? New York: Chas. Scribner's~S"ons, 1969. Coe, Richard N. Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1968. Cohn, Ruby. "A Note on Beckett, Dante, and Geulincx." Comparative Literature, 12 ( i 9 6 0 ) , 9 3 - 4 . . Back to Beckett. Princeton* Princeton University Press, 1973* . Samuel Beckett: The Comic Gamut. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1962. 148 Contini, Gianfranco, ed. Letteratura d e l l ' I t a l i a unitai 1861-1968. Firenzes Sansoni, 196W. Cornwell, Ethel F. "Samuel Beckett: The F l i g h t from S e l f . " PMLA, 88 ( 1 9 7 3 ) - 41-51. Cox, George W. The Mythology of the Aryan Nations, v o l . 2. Londoni Longmans, Green, and Co., 1870. Cronin, Anthony. A Question of Modernity. Londoni Seeker and Warburg, 1 9 6 6 . Croussy, Guy. Beckett. P a r i s i L i b r a i r i e Hachette, 1971. Debenedetti, Santorre.^ "Documenti su Belacqua." Bulle-tino d e l l a Societa Dantesca I t a l i a n a , 13 (1906), 222-233. Descartes, Rene. The E s s e n t i a l Descartes, ed. Margaret D. Wilson. New Yorki Mentor Books, 1 9 6 9 . Doherty, Francis. Samuel Beckett. Londoni Hutchinson University Library, 1971. Duckworth, C o l i n . Angels of Darkness 1 Dramatic E f f e c t s i n Samuel Beckett with Special Reference to Eugene  Ionesco. Londoni George A l l e n and Unwin Ltd., 1972. , ed. En attendant Godot, by Samuel Beckett. London: George G. Harrap, I966. Duncan, Robert. The Sweetness and Greatness of Dante*s  Divine Comedy. San Francisco 1 Open Space, 1965. E s s l i n , Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 2nd ed., 1961? rev. New Yorki Anchor Books, 1 9 6 9 . , ed. Samuel Becketti A C o l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l Essays. New Jersey1 Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1 9 6 5 . Federman, Raymond. Journev to Chaos 1 Samuel Beckett's  Early F i c t i o n . Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univer-s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1 9 6 5 . , and Fletcher, John. Samuel Beckett: His Works and His C r i t i c s . Berkeley 1 University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1970. Finney, Brian. Since 'How I t IsJ_i A Study of Samuel Beckett's Later F i c t i o n . Londoni Covent Garden Press Ltd., 1972. 1 4 9 Fletcher, John. "Beckett's Debt to Dante." Nottingham French Studies, 4 ( 1 9 6 5 ) , 4 1 - 5 2 . . "Samuel Beckett and the Philosophers." Comparative Literature , 1? ( 1 9 6 5 ) , 4 3 - 5 6 . . Samuel Beckett's Art. Londoni Chatto and Windus, 1 9 6 7 : ; . The Novels of Samuel Beckett. London: Chatto and Winclus, 1970. , and Spurling, John. Beckett 1 A Study of his Plays. London: Methuen, 1 9 0 2 . Freccero, John, ed. Dante; A C o l l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l  Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,""Inc., 1965. Friedman, Melvin J . , ed. Samuel Beckett Now. Chicago and London; University of Chicago Press, 1970. Furbank, P. N. "Beckett's Purgatory." Encounter, 32 (Feb. 1 9 6 4 ) , 6 2 - 6 5 . G a r z i l l i , Enrico. C i r c l e s Without Center; Paths to the Discovery and Creation of S e l f i n "Modern LiteraT^-ire. Cambridge 1 Harvard University Press, 1972. Harrod, R. F. The L i f e of John Maynard Keynes. London: MacMillan and Company Ltd., 1951• Harvey, Lawrence E. Samuel Beckett: Poet and C r i t i c . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970. Hassan, Ihab. The Dismemberment of Orpheus; Toward a Postmodern L i t e r a t u r e . New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Hayman, David. "Quest f o r Meaninglessness; The Boundless Poverty of Molloy." Six Contemporary Novels. Austin: University of Texas, 1962. Hesla, David H. The Shape of Chaos: An Interpretation of  the Art of SamueT~gec"keTtT Minneapolis: The Univer-s i t y ~b'f Minnesota Press, 1971. Hibon, Bernard. "Samuel Beckett: I r i s h T r a d i t i o n and I r i s h Creation." Aspects of the I r i s h Theatre. Paris: Editions UniversitaTres, 1972. 150 Hoffman, Frederick J• Samuel Beckett: ffhe Man and His  Works;* Toronto: Forum House Publishing Co., I9E9T Hopper, Vincent. "The Beauty of Order: Dante." Medieval  Number Symbolism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1 9 3 8 , pp. 1 3 6 - 2 0 1 . Jacobsen, Josephine and Mueller, William R. The Testament 5f Samuel Beckett. London: Faber and Faber, i 9 6 0 . Janvier, Ludovic. Pour Samuel Beckett. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1966. . Samuel Beckett par lui-m&ne. Paris: Editions de S e u i l , 1969. Kay, George R., ed. The Penguin Book of I t a l i a n Verse* Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965* Kennedy, Sighle. Murphy's Bed: A Study of Real Sources  and Sur-real Associations i n Samuel Beckett's F i r s t  Novel*. Lewisburg; Bucknell University Press, 1971. Kenner, Hugh. A Reader's Guide to Samuel Beckett. London: Thames and~Hudson, 1 9 7 3 . . Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett: The Stoic Comedians. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962. • Samuel Beckett: A C r i t i c a l Study. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1 9 6 8 . Kerraode, Frank. Continuities. Londoni Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968. . The Sense of an Ending. New Yorki Oxford Univer-s i t y Press, 196*"7. Kern, Edith. E x i s t e n t i a l Thought and F i c t i o n a l Technique! Kierkegaard, Sartre, Beckett. New Haven and Londoni Yale University Press, 1 9 7 0 . Knapp, Robert S* "Samuel Beckett's Allegory of the Uncreating Word." Mosaic, v i / 2 (Winter 1973)* 7 1 - 8 3 . Knowlson, James. Samuel Beckett: An E x h i b i t i o n . Londoni Turret Books, 1971* Lagercrantz, Olaf. From H e l l to Paradisei Dante and His  Comedy, trans. Alan B l a i r . New Yorki Washington Square Press, Inc., 1 9 6 6 . 151 Leopardi, Giacomo. Selected Prose and Poetry, trans. I r i s Origo and John Heath-Stubbs. Toronto: New American Library, 1 9 6 ? . Montgomery, Marion. The Reflective Journey Toward Order: Essays on Dante, Wordsworth, E l i o t , and Others. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1 9 7 3 . Montgomery, N i a l l . "No Symbols Where None Intended." New World Writing, 5 ( 1 9 5 4 ) , 3 2 4 - 3 3 7 , Mood, John J . "'The Personal System'—Samuel Beckett's Watt." PMLA, 86 ( 1 9 7 1 ) , 2 5 5 - 2 6 5 . Murphy. "The Aesthetics of E i t h e r / Or i n Samuel Beckett's Novels." Thesis, University of B. C. . May, 1 9 7 0 . Murray, Patrick. The Tragic Comedian: A Study of Samuel  Beckett. Cork: The Mercier Press,""1970. Neumann, E r i c h . The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. 2nd ed., 1955* r p t . 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