Representation of a Disrupted Mind and Anguished Self in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable

TitleRepresentation of a Disrupted Mind and Anguished Self in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsNayebpour, K
JournalMediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
Start Page462
Date Published12/2015
Type of ArticleResearch
KeywordsLanguage, Other, Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable

This paper explores the main causes of character-narrator’s linguistic as well as “existential anguish” (Esslin, 1968, p. 29) in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable. The paper argues that the Unnamable's on-going and exhaustive quest for a real self leads in failure mainly because of his dissemination in the stories of the others as well as his only available medium or language. Although throughout the narrative the voice pretends to be able to deliver itself with either the thoughts of the others or their stories in order to obtain an independent self, the narrative is mainly a representation of the narrating voice’s failure in coming to terms with the arbitrary nature of language and the other voices. It follows that, the Unnamable, being a purely linguistic self and subjugating to the non-referential power of language, relentlessly searches for a true self throughout the narrative. The present paper thus examines The Unnamable as a poststructural narrative, investigating the function of self, language and their troubled relationship in the novel as well as exploring, as Lance Olsen puts, Beckett’s and Derrida’s joint questions concerning “the deconstructive turn” and “the dissolution of self, world, and language” (1956, p. 4). Accordingly, applying a poststructuralist approach, the present paper examines the Unnamable’s intramental (or private) perceptions regarding his existential and linguistic anguish within the narrative.


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