(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The Unnamable, although he never calls himself that, seems to be an old male who is not certain of where he is, who he is, or if, in fact, he actually exists. Intelligent, loquacious, and sometimes very funny, he constantly bemoans his odd situation. He believes that he has been used for some unknown reason by some unknown persons who put words in his mouth, although he is not sure that he has a mouth. He is certain that the constant talk that flows through him is, in part, some kind of punishment. He believes that until he does his “pensum” (a term for a school assignment for misbehavior), he cannot get on to his lesson and satisfy his tormentors, who he hopes will let him go so that he can fall silent and cease to exist. However, he has no idea what his pensum is or what his lesson is. Instead, he presumes that in time, in constant babbling, he will by chance utter the right words or phrases and be allowed his freedom. He has trouble trying not to give in to his urge to talk about things about which he knows little or nothing.

All that he actually is prepared to accept as true is the fact that he is sitting in some unknown, dim place; he can feel the pressure on his backside from some kind of seat without a back, and he can feel the pressure of his arms resting on his thighs. He also thinks that certain male figures are passing in front of him on a kind of circular path, but since he can look only forward, he is not certain where they are coming from.

An early tale initially concerns a character named Mahood but then slides into being a tale about the Unnamable...

(The entire section is 652 words.)