Beckett between the Lines

From Murphy to Watt


  • Zsolt Sógor



This paper wishes to analyse two early novels by Samuel Beckett; Murphy and Watt. It takes a chronological point of view from which it argues that the later of the two, Watt, is closer to Beckett's mature voice, mainly due to its relation with language. This means, in other words, that though in Murphy quite a lot of emphasis is to fall on the role of language, in Watt, with a bit of exaggeration, there is hardly anything else to concentrate on but the language of the novel and language as such in general. The emphasis on language leads to considering Beckett's relation to languages. Since Watt was for a long time the last longer prose work that Beckett wrote in English, the paper regards this novel as a harbinger of the approaching change for French. Or rather, the approaching bilingual state, because, as it is argued, Beckett may be said to have been approaching an in-between state in, or beyond, the two languages of composition. Taking the author's bilingualism into consideration means, however, an author-oriented approach - this is what the paper undertakes to present; to find Beckett's fingerprints between the lines.