Company Summary

Summary (Critical Guide to British Fiction)

“That then is the proposition. To one on his back in the dark a voice tells of the past.” The action of Company is fundamentally the narration of stories by a voice to a listener lying in the typical Beckettian darkness. Some of the elements of the story are verifiable, some are conjecture, some are prediction. Like all of Samuel Beckett’s prose work, the narrative voice is the author’s, unable to cease telling stories, unable to express, yet obligated to express. Typical literary inquiries concerning the source of the voice, the identity of the supine figure on the ground, or the placement of the setting and time into a recognizable frame, cannot be satisfied in Beckettian novels; they are self-generating and self-referential, a trait of most postmodern fiction.

Uncharacteristic of Beckett’s earlier prose, Company almost finds a way to discuss the undiscussable. It contains, embedded in the never-ending question of the reliability of the narrator, some poignant possible facts from a recognizable past, stories of childhood, and unforgettable moments in the memory of the listener. The narrative proceeds by a series of anecdotes told about the listener’s childhood and youth. One story concerns the mother’s reprimand at the child’s innocent question about the nearness of the sky: “She shook off your little hand and made you a cutting retort you have never forgotten,” the voice tells the listener. Another story describes...

(The entire section is 531 words.)