Discuss how Texts for Nothing by Samuel Beckett purposely alienates the reader from the story, lays bare the language of text (as a body of signs and sentences), and demonstrates how the speaking...

Discuss how Texts for Nothing by Samuel Beckett purposely alienates the reader from the story, lays bare the language of text (as a body of signs and sentences), and demonstrates how the speaking subject is always composed of language.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At first, the reader of Texts for Nothing expects a first person narrator and that this will be a story that reveals a lack of direction in life as the narrator laments lost opportunities and the aimless passing of time as the narrator points out that "I couldn't go on." However, the reader soon becomes aware that it is not a traditional story and that there is no actual narrator, no person sharing his story but simply a collection of words that are only made real by the reader - and any other readers, "voices"- and any community is between the readers and not, as would be expected, between the reader and the text. This immediately separates the text from the reader and the reader is alone and "above" the text, thus alienating him from what will follow.

"They up above, all around me" leaves the reader in the abstract world of nothing more than a collection of words that only make sense in one context- language. The language is the consistent element throughout Texts for Nothing as the affirmations and denials continue to baffle the reader thus denying the reader any specific direction of purpose. "The voice of silence" confirms the refusal of the elusive and insubstantial narrator to accept any kind of truth or reality forcing the reader to rely only on the text itself. A creative writer, a poet, is required to lose himself in language in order to be recognized as a writer and yet if a poet loses himself completely in words then his logic and rational thought will betray him. There appears to be no possibility for reconciliation and there is a conflict between "knowing none, known of none."

"Silence" is the representation of reason and reason, by its very definition, is contrary to "words" which represent imagination. The two cannot exist together without destroying each other. Language is the key to the spoken word and the means of communicating but it is also that which confuses everything and allows the bleak and soulless sense of rational thought to pervade the imaginative process and at the end it is, "all said."

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