By Cohn, Ruby; Beckett, Samuel
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Additional resources for A Beckett canon
Joyce-like, Beckett displays neologisms and portmanteau words—Smeraldinalgia, coprolalia, impudenda, pianissimissima, triph- 39 a beckett canon: 1932–33 thong, taratantaratartantula, lex stallionis, clitoridian, diademitonically, theologasters. Proust-like, Beckett immerses his tale in the arts—music and painting, as well as literature. Unlike Proust, however, who does not refer speci‹cally to his work in progress, Beckett (via his narrator and his protagonist) ruminates about his own process of narration.
Text” “Text” is a neutral title that Beckett had already used the previous year for another poem. In this “prose-poem diapason” (Gross, 83) a woman, like Joyce’s Molly Bloom, is in bed with her cuckolded lover. Although “Text” names neither its female speaker nor her “cheerfully cornuted Dublin landloper,” they may be the Smeraldina and Belacqua (as they certainly are when Beckett revised the prose poem for his novel, Dream). ”1 The female persona is imaged as a coalcave, a cowslip, a lettuce leaf, a rose, a squab, a mare, whereas her partner is relentlessly phallic.
In Pilling’s words: “The temptation to read Proust as a kind of template constituted by ideas which Beckett would thereafter seek either to dispel or to disguise [or to reformulate] is, it must be admitted, a very dif‹cult one to resist” (1997, 49). Having quoted pertinent passages in that respect, I will try to resist further prediction. 18 a beckett canon: 1929–31 Beckett intersperses epigrams with ›owing clauses that imitate the style of their subject. Early in the essay, we read: “The periods of transition that separate consecutive adaptations (because by no expedient of macabre transubstantiation can the grave-sheets serve as swaddling-clothes) represent the perilous zones in the life of the individual, dangerous, precarious, painful, mysterious and fertile, when for a moment the boredom of living is replaced by the suffering of being” (8).