44 thoughts on “The Complete Samuel Beckett Short Prose


    “Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards,”

    It seems appropriate that I read this encounter with a prostitute on the same day as I read and reviewed this extrapolation by Adam Golaski upon a painting of prostitutes on medical parade by Toulouse-Lautrec.


    “He was wearing a little harness, I remember, with little bells, he must have taken himself for a pony, or a Clydesdale, why not. I would have crushed him gladly, I loathe children, and it would have been doing him a service, but I was afraid of reprisals. Everyone is a parent, that is what keeps you from hoping. One should reserve, on busy streets, special tracks for these nasty little creatures,…”

    After that harness, the narrative protagonist later meets a horse, almost sleeps with it, having been friended by a cabman. This protagonist with a pustule on the head, we gradually learn has health issues, difficult walking procedure, a bit of a loner? Counts the feet’s steps as a sort of convoluted game and has had incontinence issues, too. Through a clever stream of consciousness relating to the protagonistic nature, we enter the head, BECOME that mind or self, as if riding a crippled, beshitted horse where you and the horse are harnessed as one creature, a bell-wether for misery.


    “Into what nightmare thingness am I fallen?”

    An astonishing word-maniacal, satisfyingly textured self-portrait of a ninety year old protagonist from within the dead self, echoing or becoming the protagonist in the previous story, having been expelled, into death, now seeing death from the other side while still conscious of that self you had once been and whom you meet and what you did, still meet and do — circling a cathedral tower stairway, meeting different folk, then a man with a penis he erects, the old Joe Breen or Breem character your father once read aloud, and horses hung as carcasses and much more. Time as the eventual CALMATIVE of death, not yet reached? I base that on this…
    “He said a time, I don’t remember which, a time that explained nothing, that’s all I remember, and did not calm me.”

      • FIRST LOVE (second reading)

        “What mattered to me in my dispeopled kingdom, that in regard to which the disposition of my carcass was the merest and most futile of accidents, was supineness in the mind, the dulling of the self and of that residue of execrable frippery known as the non-self and even the world.”

        That sort of summarises Beckett so far in this book, in this exponential streaming — by father’s death, bench, parsnips, violets, diarrhoea confused with constipation and stewpan as pisspot — of the protagonist’s first love who turns out to be a prostitute he seeds with a child, song and doubt.
        This is text that grows on you, al dente, textured and mind-elasticising. This is now my first love with Beckett. Sent out to sleep in humus and straw by his posthumous Dad.

  4. THE END

    “There was even a hole for my cyst.”

    “I lay inert on the bed and it took three women to put on my trousers. They didn’t seem to take much interest in my private parts […] I didn’t take much interest in them myself.”

    “Come come, he said, and anyway no one understands a tenth of what you say. I’m so old, I said. You are not so old as all that, he said.”

    “I didn’t know our cows too could be so inhuman.”

    Hand to mouth, with pissing and farting matters described, begging and making do, in basement, sea cave and then self-made boat, this is a stream of consciousness which rings more than just true. A text to die for. Ending with the “calmative” that he swallows with the sea visions around him, utterly poignant…

    “The sea, the sky, the mountains and the island’s closed in and crushed me in a mighty systole, then scattered to the uttermost confines of space.”

    systole – a cross between my own cyst and a pisshole?



    “Yes, I was my father and I was my son,”

    A textured stream of consciousness of self, not self-consciousness, which compares well with another work I read today and reviewed here of a man who sees a boy on Mars, his son or himself when younger?
    Also a reprise here from earlier in this book for the story of Joe Breen, or Breem.

    • 2

      “, watch out for the genuine death-pangs, some are deceptive, you think you’re home, start howling and revive,…”

      The best advice I can give about these wonderful texts is to read them out loud to an imaginary or real audience. It all comes home.

      • 3

        “…I’ll say I’m a body, stirring back and forth, up and down, as required. With a cluther of limbs and organs,…”

        A revelation.
        For many years now I have been going on about “the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction” (now a googleable expression), and these texts for nothing seem to be the prime evidence of what I meant!

              • 7

                “…I’d like to be sure I left no stone unturned before reporting me missing…”


                “Me, here, if they could open, those little words, open and swallow me up, perhaps that is what has happened. If so let them open again and let me out, in the tumult of light that sealed my eyes, and of men, to try and be one again.”

                  • 11, 12 & 13

                    “But peekaboo here I come again, just when most needed, like the square root of minus one, having terminated my humanities, this should be worth seeing, the livid face stained with ink and jam, caput mortuum…”

                    An existential labyrinth. I could sit reading it forever. Like the square root of minus one.
                    -1 being death itself..


    “But let me get on now from where I left off, the white horse and then the rage, no connexion I suppose. But why go on with all this, I don’t know, some day I must end, why not now. But these are thoughts, not mine, no matter, shame upon me.”

    The above title would be a good title for many works in this whole book, if not the whole book itself. Going from where to where? And in whose body? Read by the person who has become the person who wrote it.


    ‘Image’ is an ‘I’m however old I am when I am’ and that is me talking not Beckett as it’s impossible to break down this complex entanglement of self, even to make discrete sense from quotable chunks, so nothing quoted.


    Two white bodies in geometrical designs conveyed by words.

    “Sweat and mirror notwithstanding they might well pass for inanimate but for the left eyes which at incalculable intervals suddenly open wide…”


    “I don’t know what the weather is now. But in my life it was eternally mild. As if the earth had come to rest in spring. I am thinking of our hemisphere. Sudden pelting downpours overtook us. Without noticeable darkening of the sky.”

    Two old men wreaking sex from each other? Amid a prophecy of climate change.

    “What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.”


    “In four split asunder over backwards true refuge issueless scattered ruins.”

    This next item reads as if it is a Brian Evenson work but then cut, remixed and pasted into a found art.


    FIzzle 1

    “Murphy had first-rate legs. The head is still a little weak, it needs time to get going again, that part does.”

    – struggling in or out of oblivion, this sometime Beckett-precursor-referential slice of prose has the feel of retrocausal Evenson again – and my trial gestalt of the “that part does” that doesn’t yet?

  12. Fizzle 2

    “And her gown that day?,”

    The most horrifying thing about reading Beckett’s short prose is that you feel that there is nothing not to understand but you don’t understand it nevertheless.

  13. Fizzle 8: For to end yet again

    “Sepulchral skull is this then its last state all set for always litter and dwarfs ruins and little body grey cloudless sky glutted dust verge upon verge hell air not a breath?”

    ‘Fizzles’, by the way, seems a very apt name for the year of Trump and Brexit.


    This and the other short prose in this book seem as if to struggle to exist out of and probably back into darkness, here as fragments of visitation and sex, with a struggle to be Elizabeth Bowen and others, perhaps, towards a literary gestalt that would transcend the struggle that the texts have with life as well as with their own language?


    “It reminded me strongly of a summer-house in which as a child I used to sit quite still for hours on end, on the window-seat, all the year round.”

    More Bowenesque yearnings, Proustian, too, yet with the undercurrents of the rest of this book, fanning back in my own time it has taken me to read it. I look forward to reading all the extraneity creep in the rest of this book once I have finished reviewing all the fiction.


    “Head on hands half hoping when he disappeared again that he would not reappear again and half fearing that he would not. Or merely wondering. Or merely waiting.”

    The evensong.

    As it happens, the three sections of this masterpiece are the best work left to the end. And that means something, Just read it aloud to yourself, and see. A summation, too, of the whole book, as if this book was meant to be – its own gestalt now dreamcaught. Not my doing, as I have the same struggle for meaning.

    “Oh all to end.”

    But stirrings still.

    end of this but not of all.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s