Gary Adelman * Naming Beckett’s Unnamable
09-04-06 suggested by: Zé Vance
Naming Beckett’s Unnamable will interest those seeking a new, absorbing reading of Beckett’s great prose, examining in a unique way the Nouvelles, the trilogy, Texts for Nothing, How It Is, and The Lost Ones, as well as other remarkable, shorter pieces. Adelman does not profess affiliation to any school of Beckett criticism. He focuses his exploration on Beckett’s debt to Franz Kafka’s writing, to his nihilism concerning art, and to the biographical Kafka, the literary persona whose struggle with spiritual deadlock helped Beckett, at crucial impulses in his own art, to find his way to Molloy and the trilogy and, later, to discern the importance of torture to the creative imagination, especially in How It Is. Beckett’s "hooks" get below the bearable surface of ordinary life, down to where satisfaction lies in inflicting and receiving pain. Yet in The Unnamable Adelman also discovers a hero’s quest for the sacredness of the self in a world become inimical to the sacred. Adelman’s approach is original in its insistence on Beckett as a storyteller rather than as a philosopher or postmodern aesthetician. He shows that the whole thrust of Beckett’s postwar art is illuminated by the epic purpose of the rest—the artistry.
Gary Adelman is Professor of English as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.