Samuel Beckett and William Faulkner: the retreat into magic
Lloyd-Davies, Karen S
Isle, Walter W.
Master of Arts
The purpose or this thesis is to examine the way in which two authors, William Faulkner and Samuel Beckett, view the traditional function of language in specific works. To some extent in each words appear to explain, but fail to do so meaningfully. Rather, language is revered for its tower as a felt physical force and for its ability to explain away or to exorcise. I shall begin by briefly discussing Beckettts Waiting for Godot, a play in which the four characters are alone on stage with nothing to do. They are left to their imaginative resources for diversion and order and so develop a kind, of primitive dependence on word games, stories, and wishes reminiscent of early civilized man. Waiting for Godot serves mainly as a reference point with which to illustrate the principles of Cassirer, Boheim, and others which I discuss next. The anthropology and epistemology of this group provide useful theories of the origin of rudimentary linguistic forms and their application as magic. Next, we will turn to William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and examine the relationship of Quentin Compson to his own speech, a project which requires consideration of his attitudes, history and surroundings. Hopefully, the parallel between Quentin's responses and those of primitive men in analagous situations will emerge in this analysis, Finally, in Watt, by Samuel Beckett, we will find a specific portrait of a man's language wresting control of itself away from the speaker, a process about which Watt, the protagonist, is but dimly aware, So the value of language as a symbol for "experience" or "meaning" is seriously questioned in these novels. Instead, Beckett, and to some extent Faulkner find language to be a maker of its own laws, and they reject its traditional mimetic function.