John Pilling
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On not being there
Going on without in Beckett

Not much in Samuel Beckett is left wholly unaffected by the notion of 'not being there', even though he remains haunted by the self-imposed imperatives of 'going on'. Not being there is only one of 'the problems that beset continuance' of which Beckett spoke in connection with the art and craft of his friend Avigdor Arikha. There are differences between the 'not' of 'Dante and the lobster' and the 'not's of Beckett's Watt. With Beckett not given to 'new ground', there are other ways in which similar elements recompose themselves. Forms are one of them and one such form is the September 1976 text, sometimes thought of as a poem. The chapter presents the example of 'going on' from a text that is 'not there' in the special sense that it has never been published, having been jettisoned in the 'tidying up' that permitted Watt to emerge.

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Beckett and nothing

Trying to understand Beckett



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