Weird, darker than dark to the point where it at times borders on the sinister but absolutely fascinating and hilariously funny in parts.
I love, loveWeird, darker than dark to the point where it at times borders on the sinister but absolutely fascinating and hilariously funny in parts.
I love, love, love Samuel Beckett. He has to be one of the MOST original, daring and innovative writers of the 20th Century and alongside Joyce and Oscar Wilde, surely also goes down as one of the best Irish writers of all time.
What is Watt about? Well, in a nutshell, it's about a mysterious, shadowy figure called 'Watt' who is either mentally disadvantaged, shall we say, or internally tormented, or possibly borderline autistic who works as a 'retainer' for a Mr Knott, his master - a character who lurks in the shadows of the pages of this novel and of whom we catch the occasional glimpse or side-reference. Most of the action takes place on the Knott property which I believe is based loosely on Beckett's childhood home or vicinity (at least) of Cooldrinagh, Ireland.
This book reminded me a lot of Molloy, the first in Beckett's famous trilogy, - especially the paradigms in which Beckett exhaustively writes out every possible combination and permutation of objects or people or word in any given scene. For example, in Mr Knott's room there are four pieces of furniture which might be lying up, face down or on its side etc. and place near the bed, near the door, near the fire or near the window and Beckett writes out every possible combination/permutation!
There are also 5-6 different combinations of adjectives describing how Mr Knott's appearance shifts day by day as seen through Watt's eyes, which is another piece of testimony questioning Watt's overall sanity or mental health. I heard that Watt is a critique of Cartesian logic and was written while Beckett was hiding out in Roussillon from the Gestapo during WWII, and couldn't help think that Beckett was doing these crazy, long permutation blocks of text excessively to poke fun at mathematicians and scientists who may sometimes write like this. At the same time, it creates an interesting 'obsessiveness' in Watt's character and this ODCD theme, which I can never figure out is reflective of the narrator or the character under description, is one which also recurs in Molloy with the 'sucking stones' routine.
Some reviewers have said that this is a hard book to follow, perhaps because i have read the Molloy/Malone Dies/The Unnameable Trilogy already, I did not find this as difficult as some of his other works - for example, The Unnameable, which is the weirdest book of Beckett's I have read to date but it also features some of the most pristine, immaculate English prose I have ever read by a 20th Century writer.
Watt is no exception. This is a highly entertaining book but you have to pay attention carefully to what is going on and the permutation sections, once you get 'into' them, you will find yourself slipping into a mad but smooth rhythm, almost like some weird burlesque form of parodic poetry or something.
I love, love, love this guy. Some people took months to read this book - for me, I couldn't put it down and finished it in 3 days. Want to read more and more Beckett. What a dangerously addictive writer he his.
I recommend this edition because it appears to be the most accurate to date. The introduction/preface talks about the various problems they have had with the MS over the years, which contains a large number of errors, some accidental and some deliberate it appears, and to which Beckett has chopped and changed and added over the years (including the mysterious addenda at the back of the book) The intro also summarises neatly some of the flaws in the Olympia (1st publication of Watt) and Grove Press editions (2nd publication of Watt). Despite the numerous errors in the flawed Olympic text, hats off once again to Mr Maurice Girodias who was not only brave enough to first publish Beckett's Watt back in 1953 (its evident publication flaws aside) but would also expose the world to Burroughs' Naked Lunch about 6 years later. And the literary world has not been the same since.
Great book, not for the faint-of-heart but highly entertaining and inimitable and incomparable! ...more
A great, stellar collection of poems but having read several of Duncan's books now, I know he can write much better than this, hence the 3-star (stricA great, stellar collection of poems but having read several of Duncan's books now, I know he can write much better than this, hence the 3-star (strict) rating. Well worth tracking down and reading too. My version of Medieval Scenes contained some of the original versions of the poem in the second half of the book and an afterword by Robert Bertholf who explains the genesis and gradual composition of this collection of poems during Duncan's 'second Berkeley' period. ...more
A mixture of beautifully written lyrical poetry and prose. The poems feature many themes found in other Duncan books such as love, self-discovery/idenA mixture of beautifully written lyrical poetry and prose. The poems feature many themes found in other Duncan books such as love, self-discovery/identity, solitude, fear and desire/lust. A nice short work that can be read in one sitting by the San Francisco Renaissance poet, Robert Duncan. ...more
A nice play by the Black Mountain and San Francisco Renaissance poet, Robert Duncan. A play on figures from Greek mythology, especially focusing on JaA nice play by the Black Mountain and San Francisco Renaissance poet, Robert Duncan. A play on figures from Greek mythology, especially focusing on Jason and the Argonauts and his search for the Golden Fleece.
Duncan was well known in his day as one of the leading poets of his time but he is also an excellent playwright. This is well worth seeking out and can be read in a couple of hours.
Rhythmically beautiful but if you are not a fan of Gertrude Stein's writing, you might be better off skipping this and picking up one of Duncan's all-Rhythmically beautiful but if you are not a fan of Gertrude Stein's writing, you might be better off skipping this and picking up one of Duncan's all-time classics such as The Opening of the Field or Bending the Bow or Roots and Branches or his two final great works - Ground Work I and Ground Work II. ...more