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The Imperative to WriteDestitutions of the Sublime in Kafka, Blanchot and Beckett$
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Jeff Fort

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254699

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.001.0001

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Company, But Not Enough

Company, But Not Enough

Chapter:
(p.330) Chapter 9 Company, But Not Enough
Source:
The Imperative to Write
Author(s):

Jeff Fort

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254699.003.0010

This chapter presents a detailed analysis of Beckett’s late prose work, Company, which reconfigures many elements of the paradox discussed in the previous chapter, but in an even sharper and more concise manner. Unlike the earlier texts, Company explicitly abolishes the use of the first person, while also exploding its “subject” into separate functions (a disembodied narrative voice, an inert body that hears, and a creator or “deviser” responsible for the whole). It is argued that this grammatical and spatial dispersal of the story’s sole subject reveals the fragmented structure of every narrative voice as a site of memory and self-identification. By suspending these functions in the “timeless void” of a present, in which (however) a voice persistently narrates fragments of a past life, Company shows two irreconcilable dimensions of every unified subject: an ineliminable past, on the one hand, and, on the other, a relentless scattering of identity in the abstract forms that make possible its construction. It is further shown that for Beckett the gap between the two is crossed only in a kind of torture that characterizes every appropriation and assumption of language and memory. The imperative to write in Beckett is thus located at the intersection of a singular past that can never be fully voided, and a language that can express and unify its speaker only on the basis of an irreparable fault.

Keywords:   Beckett, Company, narrative voice, memory

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