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By Leland de la Durantaye

Leland de l. a. Durantaye is helping us comprehend Beckett’s strangeness and infamous hassle through arguing that Beckett’s lifelong crusade used to be to mismake on purpose—not to denigrate himself, or his viewers, or reconnect with the kid or savage inside, yet simply because he believed that such mismaking is within the curiosity of paintings and should form its destiny.

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Additional resources for Beckett's Art of Mismaking

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Playing a God without machina is no easy matter. If all traditional narrative movement sounds to his sensitive ears like the ticking of a factory clock, if all unity seems to his sharp senses cooked, all stable characters chloroformed, all movements preprogrammed, and all traditional storytelling so facile and facultatif as to be without value or valor, the question of what remains becomes a difficult one. Elsewhere 2 8 • B e c k e t t ’ s a rt o f m i s m a k i n g in his first book Beckett’s narrator finds a name for the clockworking and chloroforming he denounced in Dickens, Austen, and Balzac: “the gehenna of narratio recta” (Dream, 168).

Molloy’s Moran begins his account: “It is midnight. 89; 125). In the book’s last lines we read: “Then I went back to the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. 170; 239). This last line reverberates like a thunderclap through all that preceded it. We might not have particularly cared whether it was raining or midnight beforehand, but now we do, for we have to wonder if it was just the weather and the time of day that was altered, or every single line.

Murphy’s successor, Watt, has a similar aspiration, and receives counsel on the matter. As his predecessor in the House of Knott informs him: it is useless not to seek, not to want, for when you cease to seek you start to find, and when you cease to want, then life begins to ram her fish and chips down your gullet until you puke, and then the puke down your gullet until you puke the puke, and then the puked puke until you begin to like it. 471). The will, creative or otherwise, is one of Beckett’s main concerns, as evidenced by the fact his creations fi nd nothing so strange as that they have one.

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