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  • Writer's pictureP D Dawson

The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett (Book Review)

The text embodies a bodiless stream of consciousness that is paradoxically both stimulating and tedious. Like a beat, back and forth, Beckett pulls you in, then spits you out again, testing your patience, forcing you to skim lines in order to remain sane, whereby you pick up important words, and like a river, you ride those words as if they are miniature vessels, sailing you to further meaning, but it never comes. Instead what we get is an incessant chant, an unrelenting prose that doesn't even stop for paragraphs, and so is it like the human mind, fleeting in a sea of multitudes in one instance, then focussed intensely on the minutiae of a moment in the next. Joycean, certainly, in its intellectual will and grace, yet voracious in its repetitive effect. Is this genius? Is this a mind that conceives a million cogs to turn a single wheel? Audacious and free, the prose sings when reading aloud, but in our minds, the dullness of our own inner voice is enough to stupefy the dead, but hear, it sings, the audacious spirit climbing a mountain of words to spin a single letter, to spur on a simple thought by the teeth of an army of words. Is this easy? Certainly not. Beckett's novel is like walking across a rough terrain until your legs are dead, then forcing you to climb a hill, only to contemplate the mountain.

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