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This review is taken from PN Review 18, Volume 7 Number 4, March - April 1981.

AND HOW THE FABLE TOO Samuel Beckett, Company (John Calder) £5.50

Company is Beckett's longest sustained piece of narrative for some time. 'A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.' It begins. This exhortation clearly places the reader in a similar position to that in which he finds himself in such earlier works as Not I or, more particularly, That Time. But here, of course, we are denied even the minimal visual stimuli that were granted to us in the drama. This is not to say that Company is devoid of the dramatist's skill, for Beckett manipulates the imagination with the precision of a mathematician, the logic of a philosopher, not to mention the sly humour that characterizes much of his work. Thus we are told to picture the unpicturable, a figure supine on his back in the dark, in a state of complete passivity. The voice comes to him, it does not emanate from him. He is allowed the movement of minutiae as is Winnie, in Happy Days, up to a point: his hands may clench into a fist, or unclench if clenched before; his feet may cross and uncross; his hooded eyes may open to the dark and close again; but sensation is denied. Gradually during the course of the narrative the senses taste, touch, smell, and, of course, sight, leave him. What is left is a voice in the dark telling of a past. But 'Only a small part of what is said can be verified'. 'Use of the second person marks the voice. That of ...


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