What is the significance of the "mythological present" and temporality described in Part I of Beckett's Molloy?

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As has been pointed out many times by Beckett scholars, the novels of Samuel Beckett do not submit to standard literary analysis; that is, plot, character, setting, etc. -- the discernable elements in fictive discourse – do not submit to analysis. The opening sequence of Molloy is a raw example of Beckett’s obsession:  Molloy, as narrator, sits at a table in “the “mythological present,” filling a blank sheet of paper with words, only to have an unseen figure take it away and replace it with another blank sheet.  The novel’s “action,” then, is the act of writing itself.  Although the French language (his first novel in French) demands tense choices (present, past, future, etc.) as all languages do, they are illusions, since all actions in “real life” take place in the present. Time in this interpretation is a myth, that is, a fiction convenient for Mankind to pretend to “progress” or even to simply “do” anything, -- the extreme  view that effort has no meaning, because time does not exist. (Compare Camus’ “Mother died today.  Or maybe yesterday.”)  Waiting for Godot is “a play in which nothing happens, twice.” In a late poem, Beckett describes death as “No sooner there than there always.”  This was Beckett’s attitude toward his own writing, an attitude brought on by his ever-present realization that death was inevitable.   Thus Molloy acknowledges the "myth" without succumbing to it.

 

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