"The ineluctable modality of the visible": perception and genre in Samuel Beckett's later drama.
It is precisely this radical refutation of the desire for explication that is taken up in Beckett's drama: "For God's sake! This craze for explication" is the director's complaint in Catastrophe, Beckett's last play to be published in English (Collected Shorter Plays 299). Originally written in French for the Avignon Festival 1982 and dedicated to the imprisoned writer Vaclav Havel, who was later to become the Czech Republic's president, this "short," or dramaticule, was hailed by critics as Beckett's political drama (Libera, "Catastrophe").(3)
Catastrophe might be Beckett's political drama. But my contention is that this play also takes up a subject that is central to any discussion of the genre of drama, and one that was Beckett's main concern, particularly in his later plays. This subject is the question of whether visual or auditive signs are more important for drama. Driving the distinction between Haupttext and Nebentext to its utmost extreme, Beckett takes up the discourse about the relevance or irrelevance of the so-called main text in terms of not only the dialogue as human speech but also any auditive utterance.(4)
The director (D) in Catastrophe answers his assistant's (A's) question about the protagonist (P)--"Sure he won't utter?"--with a radical "Not a squeak." Instead of having lines to say, the protagonist in Catastrophe is merely, positioned on a plinth like a statue, spotlighted like a monument, and whitened like a canvas (hands, feet, and cranium). As one critic has observed, (P) in his old "grey pyjamas" comes to resemble a Giacometti statue.(5) This director seems to share with the author of Acts without Words (I and II) and Quad a preference for the visual dimension of drama put on stage with the help of exact scenic instructions.
As Catastrophe is a rehearsal, one can assume that what is being rehearsed here might be a Beckett play, the dramaticule a self-parody. But Catastrophe is more than this: it is also a juicy satire on the theater. Most of all, however, it is a contribution to the subject of the double modality of drama--the modality of drama as visual image and as literary text, as static situation and as process. And this holds true for the history of drama as well as for the history of Beckett's own dramatic writing.
The "ineluctable modality of the visible" and the "ineluctable modality of the audible" is James Joyce's subject in the third chapter of Ulysses--the chapter that is preoccupied with the connection between perception and thinking. Stephen Dedalus describes human existence in time and space as Nacheinander and Nebeneinander --quoting a well-known eighteenth-century theory of art, Lessing's Laokoon.(6) Stephen half-ironically tries it out by using his steps to segment time and space: "I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space" (31).
Steps in space (Footfalls) and the image of segmented time (Krapp's Last Tape and That Time) are well known from Beckett's drama. What I will concentrate on here is not Joyce's influence on Beckett, but rather a topic that Joyce and Beckett have in common: the preoccupation with aesthetic experience in the old sense of perception and its consequence for the modality of art and literature.
Of all modern dramatists Beckett was probably most conscious of the double semiotic modality of drama as language and as translation of language into extralinguistic signs like visual images. Not only was Beckett very much aware of this double modality of drama, but he also makes his recipient very much aware of it.(7) And--this is my central thesis--in his later dramatic writings the double modality of drama seems to be his one and only subject.
In the course of Beckett's dramatic writing the author seems to have developed a growing awareness of the visual dimension of drama as genre. Catastrophe can be seen as Beckett's most extreme example of visuality in drama and--being a self-parody--also as his most explicit utterance regarding the primacy of visuality in drama.
To describe the drama of visuality in terms of literary history means to see Beckett's drama as a turning away from the nineteenth-century closet drama--a drama that was meant to be read rather than performed. Nevertheless, to see Beckett's drama as consisting of visual imagery only and giving up textuality altogether is too simple and cannot be inferred from a single play like Catastrophe--which on top of everything else is satirical. In Beckett's drama the two structural layers are interwoven thoroughly and cannot rightly be separated from each other. One objective of Beckett's dramatic method is to point out the extent to which textuality and visual imagery are interdependent; another is to guide the recipient's perception and to make recipients aware of the role perception plays in the act of constituting drama as genre. Paradoxically enough, the extralinguistic (for instance visual) modality of Beckett's drama can very often only be perceived as such after its textuality has been recognized. Structures of static visual imagery sometimes even counteract structures of the text as process, as is shown by the example of Not I. In addition to focusing on human perception, the author reflects upon his awareness of what fundamentally constitutes the genre of drama: that is, the temporal process that takes place within the space of the stage. Identity of character or psychological character motivation exists only in negation or as fictionalizing recipient activity. The pertinacity of the recipient's expectation is actually the only constant the author can count on. The objective of Beckett's drama is a purely aesthetic one in the historical sense of aesthetics as "the science of sensual perception," as opposed to logic as pure thought.(8) Beckett's drama is didactic insofar as it teaches one to become aware of the perception process and discourages "logical" construction or alleged reconstruction of "reality." But at the same time it has--paradoxically--to rely on this constructing activity of the recipient.
After having shed some light on the double modality in Beckett's earlier plays, I will point out the interdependence of the two structural layers and the necessary intertwining of auditive and visual perception as a precondition for the intended effect in three later plays. The three later plays are Not I, which has become a critical classic since 1975, and the two shorts That Time and Footfalls, which were conceived as a double bill for the Beckett program the London Royal Court Theatre put on in celebration of Beckett's seventieth birthday.(9) Beckett himself pointed out the interrelation of the three plays by calling That Time "a brother to Not I" (qtd. in Knowlson and Pilling 206, 220).(10) These three plays definitely have one trait in common: all point to an awareness of auditive and visual signs and the effect they have on stage. Not I reflects upon the modality of drama as textual and visual structure, as process and stasis, at the same time. That Time and Footfalls separate both aspects and show them one after the other. That Time concentrates more on time and process and auditive perception, whereas Footfalls (meaning steps) concentrates more on space and stasis and synchronic, namely visual, perception. Additional evidence for the intentional interrelation of the two shorts is the changing of the title. The original It All became Footfalls in the staging version for the double bill.
Before describing the structure of these three plays, I would like to concentrate for a moment on the method Beckett used in his earlier plays to point out the double modality of drama. The intertwining of the two structural layers, which aims at deconstructing the traditional distinction between Haupttext and Nebentext (as dialogue and nondialogue), appears to be rather mechanical in the early plays. In Waiting for Godot, for instance, stage set and properties become the subject of the dialogue insofar as at the beginning of act 2 Vladimir and Estragon talk about the ominous tree, which in the second act, as opposed to the first one, has developed leaves. The stage directions say, "The tree has four or five leaves." The dialogue does not have to be understood as a discourse exclusively about the set. Although it can be taken literally as instruction for the recipient to perceive the set, Vladimir's thrice-repeated "Look at the tree.... The tree. Look at the tree" (60) can also function in other contexts: along with the remark "everything changes," it can, for instance, be understood as a contribution to the eschatological theme of "the quest for redemption," or the epistemological one of "the continuity in change," or the self-reflexive one of the discussion of the dramatic myth.(11)
In Endgame, written nine years after Waiting, the recipient's perception is directed toward set and properties in a far more unambiguous way, as there is no immediate mimetic context. The play begins with a very long (one-and-a-half-page) Nebentext describing the set in all its details, such as windows, door, curtains, and all properties, including dustbin, armchair, sheet. Then Clov's silent action makes the Spectator aware of all these details. The blocking, Clov's movements, measuring the space of the stage in all three directions, brings to mind the three-dimensionality of the stage. Clov's climbing the ladder and his looking out the window are hints at height as the third dimension and at the off-stage space. The space behind the door and its dimensions are also mentioned: "ten feet by ten feet by ten feet.... Nice dimensions, nice proportions" (12).
In Krapp's Last Tape, written in 1958, the year of the English translation of Endgame, it is not just the protagonist's silent action at the beginning of the play which directs the spectator's perception toward the properties. Perception is also made explicit: Krapp is "near-sighted but unspectacled" (56). This information does not stay in the Nebentext but is also transferred as scenic instruction into Krapp's silent action: Krapp holds the spools very close to his eyes to figure out the inscriptions. But the real intertwining of dramatic structure as literary text and as scenic instruction is achieved in Krapp's Last Tape in in astonishingly simple but nevertheless effective way: the central image "tape" is on the one hand a textual metaphor for time and its chronological sequence, on the other hand the concrete object on stage that can be perceived synchronously. The tape as metaphor turns up again in That Time. But as object to be perceived on-stage it only comes into existence in the mind of the recipient who connects the voice coming alternately out of loudspeakers from the two sides and the ceiling of the stage into a continuous flow. The precondition for the constitution of concrete objects here is knowledge of the earlier work, Krapp's Last Tape. Categories like "the immediacy of drama" as well as perception as a passive act thus become doubtful.
Now to a more detailed analysis of the three intentionally connected plays, Not I, Footfalls, and That Time. No other play by Beckett makes the distinction between drama as literary text and drama as performance more explicit than Not I. Not I is both--also in the sense of literary genres--narrative and drama. It can only be fully realized through reading and performance. In terms of style, the narrative is characterized by the incongruence of tense and time (preterite and the present) and the deictic change (from first- to third-person singular), the drama by the impression of immediacy (present tense) and visuality.
Even the title demands both visual and auditive realization. The homophone ai as "I" and "eye" can only be realized when it is seen in print as well as heard. Again, Joyce used the homophone I/eye in Ulysses, where, as already pointed out, perception and the modality of the visible and the modality of the audible appear as Nebeneinander and Nacheinander. Joyce was not only a pioneer in focusing on the perception process in art and aesthetics, but also was the modern author to have stylistically perfected point of view as narrative technique. The homophone I/eye in Ulysses is used exactly in this context. The twelfth chapter, "Cyclops"--it is easy to see the connection between the one-eyed giant and the realization of ai as "eye"--begins with a narrative passage told from the point of view of a first-person narrator, which switches to a third-person singular perspective as soon as the print is neglected and the passage is realized auditively:
I was just passing the time of day with old Troy of the D.M.P. at the corner
of Arbour hill there and be damned but a bloody sweep came along and
he near drove his gear into my eye. I turned around to let him have the
weight of my tongue when who should I see dodging along Stony Batter
only Joe Hynes.
--Lo Joe, says I. How are you blowing?
The first-person narrator here is reminiscent of the Cyclops. His eye almost gets knocked out by a chimney sweep. In the third-person narrative situation he becomes "The Eye" in the same way that a policeman is "The Law" in colloquial speech. The switch in perspective from first- to third-person narration is achieved by the replacement of the standard "I say" with the colloquialism "says I."(12)
Not I--as announced by the title homophone--reflects on point of view in the sense of narrative technique and deixis. The title also refers to the fact that the protagonist of the play, Mouth--a female figure reduced to a mouth--refuses to use the first-person singular for the story she narrates: "what? ... who? ... no! ... she!" is the four-times repeated formula which explicitly refutes the I-relation. Not I reflects, on the one hand, on the two modalities of drama as literary text to be realized successively in reading and as presence to be felt during performance, and, on the other hand, on the two modalities within performance as time and space, as sound and as visual image. Mouth and ear--organs of production and perception for successively given information, the so-called Nacheinander--literally play an important part in this play. The central character is Mouth; her necessary counterpart is Auditor, who is arranged on the otherwise empty stage in a way to make their interdependence clear.
Simultaneous, spatial representation, the Nebeneinander, and the respective organ of perception, the eye, also become the subject of reflection and stage imagery. And this not only in negation, as the title suggests, but also in a positive way, as the spectator's perception is directed and concentrated on two spots of the otherwise darkened stage. Only Mouth and Auditor are spotlighted.
Although it seems as if it were only the ear taking part in the perception process, the eye is also constantly challenged. This is so because Auditor's part is a silent one, his communication merely gestures. Beckett describes Auditor's gestures as expressing "helpless compassion". His gestures are four movements "consisting in simple sideways raising of arms from sides and their falling back." As they lessen "with each recurrence till scarcely perceptible at third," the eye of the, Spectator, expecting change, has to be continuously on the alert. The spectator's view alternates between the "faintly lit" Mouth and the "fully faintly lit" tall figure of Auditor. This perception activity constitutes an imaginary line between the two "characters," which is also a kind of "line of communication" between "sender" and "receiver". The stage directions give exact information as to Auditor's attitude "facing diagonally across the stage intent on mouth" (216) and support this interpretation. The blocking of Not I is a visualization, a "scenic metaphor" of the basic semiotic nature of drama: linguistic communication within space. Space is here the space of the stage. The blocking of the two "characters" functions as a pointer to the three dimensions of the stage. Explicit mention is made of the relative position of "sender" and "receiver", of Mouth and Auditor, by the stage directions, in a way that the communication line between the two goes diagonally across the stage from upstage right to downstage left. Mouth is positioned eight feet above stage level, whereas Auditor is standing downstage on an invisible podium of exactly half that height, at four feet, so that the imaginary line between the two forms the diagonal of all three dimensions of the stage.
The sentences pouring out from the mouth have a double structure, depending upon whether they are read or heard. When read slowly and thoroughly like a narrative, they turn into a five-part structure. Auditor's four movements function as the segmenting element. This five-act structure with climax and turning point in the third segment is reminiscent of the structure of a Puritan conversion narrative. Succession, causality, and the rising and falling of action are the characteristics of this structure.
During performance a completely different structure forms in the spectator's mind. Because of the speed of the uttering, Mouth's monologue gives the impression of stasis, of being a segment out of a continuum, a tableau.
Continuity and speed were also the two characteristics Beckett insisted on while supervising the first production at the Royal Court in 1973. He reduced the length of the play to a short seventeen minutes (the original length had been forty-five minutes) by pushing the actress playing Mouth, Billy Whitelaw, to speak faster and faster.(13) During the French production, which he directed himself, Beckett demanded that the actress Madeleine Renaud speak more monotonously. The impression of a continuum also becomes stronger through the fact that the play begins with an extempore of the actress behind the curtain and also ends with such "ad-libbing." Through this production technique, which definitely provokes the audience's nerves and emotions, the monologue turns into a comment on the present receptional situation.(14) It is the spectator who is molested by the "buzzing in the ears" and who is unable to Stop the unintelligible stream of words:
Never still a second. mouth on fire ... stream of words ... in her ear ...
practically in her ear ... not catching the half ... not the quarter ... no idea
what she's saying ... imagine! ... no idea what she's saying!... and can't
stop ... no stopping it ...
(Collected Shorter Plays 219)
This passage adopts a completely different validity within the fiveact reading structure: it very clearly is the climax within the Puritan conversion structure. It is the central event where God's having taken influence on human life is felt and the conversion to faith is said to be achieved.
Mouth narrates the story of a sixty- or seventy-year-old woman, who--hitherto unable to speak--suddenly one April morning in a meadow turns "insentient". When she regains her feeling, she also becomes able to utter speech. Although she can hear her own words, she cannot understand them. The initial feeling of relief turns into one of coercion. Voluntary speech turns into forced confession.
The morphology of the conversion narrative, of the free and public confession that members of Puritan congregations on both sides of the Atlantic had to make in order to become "visible saints," that is, covenanted Christians, has been described as a three-act drama, the three acts being sin, conversion, and faith, or, to be more precise, (1) sin, preparation, assurance; (2) conviction, compunction, submission; (3) fear, sorrow, faith.(15) Climax and three-part structure are not the only essentials of this genre; also important are the public (audience) and the personalized listener. The personalized listener here is Auditor, whose name of course also has a business connotation. It is interesting to note that Krapp uses a "ledger," also a business term. The connection between business and faith as a Puritan trait is as old as Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, who turns even his introspection into a balance sheet. "Auditor" also evokes audition, the earliest stage in the transition of text into theater.
I have pointed out two traits in Not I that seem to be contradictory: (1) the two modalities of drama seem to exist separately, drama as textuality and as visuality, and (2) visual and auditive perception constantly overlap. The separation line between "only fictional" text and "concrete" objects on stage begins to dissolve. The spatial line of communication between Mouth and Auditor is constituted through the spectator's mental, fictionalizing perception activity. I would like to follow up these two traits in That Time and Footfalls. At first glance That Time seems to demand reading only, because it is something like an interior monologue. But in this play as well, structure and subject become clear only when put on stage--or when imagined as if on stage. The subject is time, time seen from a distance, but also narration, fiction, as the deictic pronoun of the title indicates ("that" as opposed to "this"). But the subject is also how this diachronic structure can be turned into synchronous, concrete stage imagery.
Listener, an isolated head with "long flaring white hair," as if seen from above, is the central character of That Time--central, but nevertheless somewhat "off centre" (Collected Shorter Plays 228). To avoid the center is of course the painter's device to prevent "fearful symmetry." And indeed critics very soon remarked that the perspective (ten feet above stage level) and the hair are very reminiscent of the astral bodies William Blake painted (Fletcher et al.). The unusual perspective together with the stage set makes the graphic quality and three-dimensionality of the stage come to the fore. In addition to this, the spatial quality of the stage is made visible with the use of loudspeakers on both sides and from above. They utter "moments" of the same voice, that of Listener. The loudspeakers must be used in such a way as to preserve the impression of continuity and also indicate that the voices are variants. The voices must be recognizable as "Moments of one and the same voice. A B C relay one another without solution of continuity ... Yet the switch from one to another must be clearly faintly perceptible."
Continuity here is important because it produces a spatial effect --an imaginary "tape of memory," similar to Krapp's tape and the line between Mouth and Auditor. I do not want to describe the sequence of the three loudspeaker voices A, B, C in detail. In any event, they produce a segmentation into three parts, reminiscent of musical or mathematical combinations, as critics have already noted in detail (Libera, "Structure"). It becomes clear that such mathematical combinations can only work when one also sees the printed text, the "partitur." But it is not only continuity which is important, but also the difference between the variants, the switching from one variant to another: "Yet the switch from one to another must be clearly faintly perceptible." And the stage directions go on: "If threefold source and context prove insufficient to produce this effect, it should be assisted mechanically (threefold pitch)." Beckett himself used pitch as a supporting technique in the Berlin production in 1977.(16)
But differentiation of the three variants is also possible according to the linguistic form of the voices--Beckett calls it the context. This again is a hint at the double quality as text and as performance. The variants can easily be referred to the stages of life, "youth" (A), "middle age" (B), and "old age" (C). But more important than this observation is the fact that the same metaphors are taken up, and also that the monologue "tapes" are stylistically connected through elliptical syntax and nonfinite verb forms, so that the text gives the impression of a continuous monologue, which, nevertheless, connects the different levels of time. The metaphors, which refer to the three time stages A, B, C, also carry in themselves the overlay of time and space, of successive and simultaneous structures. A permanent topic is, for instance, history and its coming to a standstill as exemplified in the history of the earth, the history of mankind, or individual history.
Here are just some of the terms that function as leitmotifs in this sense: "Stone" embodies the history of the earth turned concrete; "ruin" is petrified cultural history; "slab," as connected with a mortuary, connotes the coming to a standstill of individual history. Places that are recurrently mentioned are "Library" and "Portrait Gallery". These are archives of history, that is, archives of literary history, of the history of art, of biography. The closed-down station also functions as a metaphor for movement come to a standstill. It is interesting to note "the old rails all rust" as an image of parallelism and movement. "Rail," similarly to the "axletree" of a wheel ("side by side" 12, 13) and "dumbbell," is a linguistic metaphor for what is happening on stage, the parallel course of "tapes" of memory and time.
If That Time is succession become visual and concrete, Footfalls is simultaneity (spatiality) become audible, as is already made clear in the title. "Footfall" is, according to the Dictionary of Contemporary English, "a sound made by setting the foot on the ground; the sound of a footstep." If the title That Time reflects on time made visible, Footfalls reflects on space made audible. The central scenic metaphor of Footfalls is a "strip of light," "width one meter" on the stage floor, "downstage, parallel with front" and again, like Listener's head, "a little off centre audience right."(17)
It is on this strip that the protagonist May paces to and fro, feet lit most strongly, body and head more in the dark. The light on the strip becomes less after each fade-out when the lighting is brought up again: "fade up to a little less on strip." Fade-out and fade-up with reduced light happens three times, thus segmenting the play into three parts. After the last, only very weak fade-up at the end of the play, the strip remains empty; May is gone. Optic signals, light, serve to segment time, that is, the play in its succession. And acoustic signals segment space, the spotlighted strip on stage. These are the exactly counted (numbered) steps of the protagonist as she paces the strip. There were originally seven (in the 1976 Faber edition). After the 1977 Berlin production, Beckett increased the steps to nine (Collected Shorter Plays 1984).(18)
The steps are not only in the Nebentext but are also taken up in the Haupttext. V, the voice of the protagonist's mother, verbalizes them and the turn at the end: "one two three four five six seven eight nine wheel." Thus the mother synchronizes steps and turn with the daughter's movements.
This early dialogical reference to the Nebentext marks the rhythm of the steps for the spectator. Thus the steps have an initial segmenting effect on the Haupttext, which progresses very slowly (thirty minutes for about one thousand words). It is interesting to know that Beckett rehearsed the rhythm and movement in his productions first and rehearsed the text only later.(19) Even if the spectator should not look concentratedly at the stage all the time--the minimal changes in the lighting suggest that he does--at least the sound segmenting space will stay in the spectator's mind. The mother's voice challenges the spectator to observe and to listen: "But let us watch her move in silence" and "I must hear the feet, however faint they fall.... The motion alone is not enough" (11 ). "Visible fact and audible fiction" is the formula Ruby Cohn coined for the relationship in Footfalls between May's movements on stage and her mother's voice ("Theater Resonance" 8). This formula can also be reversed. The audible also becomes fact as a blueprint for the spectator's perception.
"Visible fact and audible fiction" also describes an additional quality of Footfalls, namely the intermediate position of the play between scenic realization and literary, narrated text. The characteristics of narration here in the form of interior monologue or of narrated monologue are again the deictic shift. In the third part of the play the protagonist talks about herself in the third-person singular. Even her name is affected by this shift of identity "Revolving it all," she changes her own name in her monologue from May to Amy. Only the mother, who is not present on the stage, is referred to the hic et nunc, to the first-person singular and to the present. "I walk here now" is the mother's voice opening the second part of the play. The fictitious, just existing in the imagination, is the concrete reality! Beckett definitely wanted to avoid the impression that the mother's voice could be just a projection of May's consciousness. When publishing the second version, he took out of the mother's text a sentence which could otherwise have counteracted the principle of ambiguity: "My voice is in her mind." In any case this sentence suggests a " mythical" (archetypal) interpretation rather than a psychological one (Cohn, "Theater Resonance" 8). "Strip" could also be a metaphor for life. At the end of the play May has vanished; but Beckett refuted--as always--the psychological interpretation of the American actress who played the part of May that the character could have committed suicide.
We are now back to the question of what Catastrophe, the end of a tragedy, says about Beckett and the history of drama. Is Catastrophe also the final denouement, the solution to the history of the theater, the incarnation of pure theater, the return to pure visuality and to immediacy? Definitely not. It should have become clear that there is no immediacy of perception and of "reality" in Beckett's plays. Concrete visuality and fiction, drama as Spielvorlage and as literary text are not possible without each other; they are clearly interrelated. Nevertheless, there is a tendency in Beckett's dramatic writings toward theatricality, toward visuality. Beckett does not leave visuality to the popular media. It looks as if this interrelation between drama as textuality and as performance could be the beginning of bridging the gap between drama and theater that originated in the nineteenth century. An argument against the assumption that Beckett saw in a "return to immediacy" the future of the history of drama is his well-known admiration for Heinrich von Kleist and his Uber das Marionettentheater (Knowlson and Pilling 277-85). Catastrophe could only be the end of drama and its history if a "return back into Paradise" were possible. But this would be, as Kleist has it," das letzte Kapitel von der Geschichte der Welt [the last chapter of the history of the world]." (1.) This pertinacity is taken up, in Siegfried Unseld's report of a conversation between Beckett and Theodor Adorno. Adorno is said to have attempted an interpretation of the names in Endgame, which Beckett refuted with unwonted acerbity (Unseld 91-95). (2.) "The play should be of no other interest than as a blueprint for performance," or "... than as scenic instruction." Beckett's fluency in German and his familiarity with German culture and writers is documented by Gottfried Buttner and also by Beckett's German translator, the late Elmar Tophoven. (3.) Beckett coined the term dramaticule in his French translation of Catastrophe. It appears in early reviews of the French version by Bettina Knapp and Francine de Martinoire. (4.) The dichotomy Haupttext versus Nebentext was introduced into the description of drama by Roman Ingarden, in Das literarische Kunstwerk (220-22), in 1931. Ingarden states that the Haupttext (spoken dialogue) is more important than the Nebentext (stage directions, for instance). The hierarchy of relevance that is implied in the terms haupt ("main") and neben ("additional") does not, of course, hold true for modern drama. (5.) Bettina Knapp (132) compares (P) to a Giacometti statue. My long-held contention that Beckett was more interested in painting than in music, supported by Vivian Mercier's biographical evidence (see Mercier, Beckett/Beckett; Fischer-Seidel, "Mercier"), has now received new support from a paper given by Marie Luise Syring at the International Beckett Symposium in January 1993 in Dusseldorf (Germany). This paper, "Bilder vom entfernten Sein. Beckett und seine Kunstlerfreunde in Paris," outlines Beckett's connection with modernism and modern artists from the point of view of an art historian. Syring makes clear that Giacometti, who designed the tree in Waiting for Godot in 1961, was among Beckett's artist friends. (6.) The allusion to Lessing has been pointed out by Fritz Senn ("Aesthetic Theories"). (7.) I use the term "recipient" for reader/spectator in order to indicate that Beckett aims at both forms of realization of drama. The term is used in analogy to "reception-theory," which unfortunately has gone into English as "reader-response theory." With the term "reader," drama, the most important genre for this critical approach, is unheeded. (8.) Aesthetics is defined in this way by Alexander Baumgarten in his Aesthetica in 1742. See Ritter and Grunder 555 ff. (9.) Brater is one of the critics who by his numerous articles on this play has made Not I a critical classic. (10.) For additional proof of the close interrelation of the three plays, see the description of composition process and manuscript situation in Gontarski 112-20. (11.) Myth in the Aristotelian sense of "plot" is discussed in Fischer-Seidel, Mythenparodie, particularly 128 ff. (12.) On the homophones I/eye in Ulysses, see Senn, "Hellenize." (13.) Billy Whitelaw was Beckett's favorite actress for many of his female characters because, since she had no formal training as an actress,she never asked about psychological character motivation (Cohn, Just Play 198). (14.) Beckett told the American actress playing Mouth, "I am not unduly concerned with intelligibility. I hope .he piece may work on the nerves of the audience, not its intellect" (Brater, "The I"). (15.) The morphology of the conversion narrative is described by Patricia Caldwell (66-73) and Edmund S. Morgan (90-92). Although Beckett was certainly familiar with Protestant traditions (Bair 386), it is not necessary to assume that he knew the American conversion narrative. The first edition of John Bunyan's Grace Abounding, the best British example of the genre, carries a motto (Psalm 66:16) that characterizes the rhetorical situation of Not 1: " Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul." (16). In the Berlin production, Beckett thought it important that continuity ("flow") should not become monotony. See Asmus 92-95. (17.) The scenic metaphor "strip" is dynamic, as opposed to the static "mouth" and "listener," as pointed out by Thomas Simone (436). (18.) For Beckett's revisions, see Asmus. Simone discusses the revisions. It is possible that the change from seven to nine steps is relevant not only for practical reasons, as was suggested by the author, but also for reasons of interpretation. The mother is ninety and the daughter forty-five. Nine steps would support the "course of life" metaphor that is one possible association of the strip of light. (19.) See Knowlson and Pilling: "For Beckett insists that the image of the woman pacing relentlessly up and down is central to the play. ~This was [my] basic conception . . .' Beckett commented, ~the text,' the words were only built up around this picture" (221).
W 0 R K S C I T E D
Asmus, Walter D."Practical,Aspects of Theatre, Radio and Television: Rehearsal Notes for the German Premiere of Beckett's That Time and Footfalls at the Schiller-Theater Werkstatt, Berlin (directed by Beckett)." Trans. Helen Watanabe; Journal of Beckett Studies 2 (1977): 82-95. Bair, Deirdre. Samuel Bekett: A Biography. London: Jonathan Cape, 1978. Beckett, Samuel. Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. London: Faber, 1984. --. Endgame. London: Faber, 1958. --. Footfalls. London: Faber, 1976. --. Waiting for Godot. London: Faber, 1956. Brater, Enoch. "Dada, Surrealism, and the Genesis of Not I." Modern Drama 18 (1975): 49-59. --. "The ~I' in Benkett's Not I". Twentieth Century Literature 20 (1974): 189-200. --. "Noah, Not I, and Beckett's Incomprehensible Sublime." Comparative Drama 8 (1976): 254-63. Brunkhorst, Martin, Gerd Rohmann, and Konrad Schoell, eds. Beckett und die Literatur der Gegenwart. Anglistische Forschungen 196. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1988. Buttner, Gottfried. "Beziehungen Becketts zu Kassel." Brunkhorst et al. 292-99. Caldwell, Patricia. The Puritan Conversion Narrative: The Beginnings of American Expression. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983. Cohn, Ruby. "Beckett's Theater Resonance." Samuel Beckett: Humanistic Perspectives. Ed. Morris Beja, S. E. Gontarski, and Pierre Astier. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1983. --. Just Play: Beckett's Theater. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1980. Dictionary of Contemporary English. Gutersloh: Longman, 1987 Fischer-Seidel, Therese. "Vivian Mercier, Beckett/Beckett." Anglia 99 (1981): 260-66. --. Mythenparodie im modernen englischen und amerikanischen Drama: Tradition und Kommunikation bei Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Samuel Beckett und Harold Pinter. Anglistische Forschungen 174. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1986. English summary in English and American Studies in German 1985. Summaries of Theses and Monographs: A Supplement to Anglia. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1986.117-19. Fletcher, John, et al. A Student's Guide to the Plays of Samuel Beckett. London: Faber, 1978. Gontarski, S. E. "~Making Yourself All Up Again': The Composition of Samuel Beckett's That Time." Modern Drama 23 (1980): 112-20. Ingarden, Roman. Das literarische Kunstwerk. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1931. 2nd ed., 1960. Joyce, James. Ulysses. Ed. Hans Walter Gabler. Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1986. Knapp, Bettina L. "Catastrophe et autres dramaticules." French Review 57 (1983/84): 131-32. Knowlson, James, and John Pilling. Frescoes of the Skull: The Later Prose and Drama of Samuel Beckett. London: John Calder, 1979. Libera, Antoni. "Beckett's Catastrophe." Modern Drama 28 (1985): 341-47. --. "Structure and Pattern in That Time." Journal of Beckett Studies 6 (1980): 81-89. Martinoire, Francine de. "Quelques eclats des voix. Catastrophe et autres dramaticules." La Quinzaine litteraire 379 (1 Oct. 1982): 13. Mercier, Vivian. Beckett/Beckett. New York: Oxford UP, 1977 Morgan, Edmund S. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea. N.p.: New York UP, 1963, Ritter, Joachim, and K. Grunder. Historisches Worterbuch der Philosophie. Basel, Stuttgart: Schwabe, 1971. Senn, Fritz. "Aesthetic Theories." James Joyce Quarterly 2 (1965): 134-36. --. "Hellenize It." James Joyce Quarterly 12 (1975): 448. Simone, R. Thomas. "~Faint, Though by No Means Invisible'": A Commentary on Beckett's Footfalls." Modern Drama 26 (1983): 435-46. Syring, Marie Luise. "Bilder vom entfernten Sein. Beckett und seine Kunstlerfreunde in Paris." International Beckett Symposium. Dusseldorf, Jan. 1993. Tophoven, Elmar. "Dreiunddreibig Jahre Vergegenwartigung Beckettscher Werke." Brunkhorst et al. 26-40. Unseld, Siegfried. "To the Utmost. To Samuel Beckett on His Eightieth Birthday." As No Other Dare Fail: For Samuel Beckett on His 80th Birthday by His Friends and Admirers. London: John Calder, 1986. 91-95.
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