Samuel Beckett's trilogy : a study in circles and ciphers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Linda Scher (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Fred Chappell

Abstract: The country of Samuel Beckett's trilogy, Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable is a nether-world limbo precariously balanced between the world of mind and that of matter. Across its grounds flit the shades of Descartes, Berkeley, Hume and a host of less-distinguished academic philosophers, each of them still engrossed in resolving the paradoxes of the human situation. Each thinks that he will find a satisfactory explanation of the relationship between the mind which thinks and the body which acts, between man's perceptions of the real world and his communication of these perceptions, and between the specifics of experience and their organization into generalities. Samuel Beckett rescues these queries from the phraseology of a musty philosophical dissertation and translates them into the language of the vaudeville promptbook. He transforms them from the stilted verbiage of the pedant into the patter of the stand-up comedian. He parodies the academician's affectation of profundity by treating the trivial with the same diligence and devotion with which he approaches the important. He creates a circular world in which all things have the same degree of significance and are, therefore, equally and endlessly insignificant. The Trilogy offers the reader a guided tour around a circular maze. This paper will attempt to trace its progress from the significant passages to the no less edifying cul de sacs.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Language: English
Date: 1967

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