Samuels Beckett's The Trilogy and the affirmation of reading

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This minor dissertation explores the reader's reception of Samuel Beckett's Trilogy. Often considered obscure and even unintelligible, I argue that to read the Trilogy is to affirm Beckett's slippery style of writing. Through a close reading of the three novels, Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, I examine how Beckett's narratives deny the reader any sense of finality in the act of reading, while also affirming the reader's freedom in each unique reading of the literary text. In addition to other key Beckett critics such as Hugh Kenner, H. Porter Abbott and Simon Critchley, I use Maurice Blanchot's critical writing on literature, especially those essays contained in The Sirens' Song, as a framework through which to engage with the three novels. Blanchot underscores the necessity of the reader to let the literary text be and not to attempt to subsume the narrative within his/ her hermeneutic expectations. To read the Trilogy and interpret it with any sense of finality is to misread the novels. Instead, my argument calls for a reading that affirms the singularity of the literary text and the elusive nature of Beckett's narrative voices.