Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Unnamable

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Maurice Blanchot begins his review of L’Innommable in the Nouvelle Revue Française (October 1953; translation by Richard Howard) with a series of questions: “Who is doing the talking in Samuel Beckett’s novels, who is this tireless ‘I’ constantly repeating what seems to be always the same thing? What is he trying to say? What is the author looking for—who must be somewhere in the books? What are we looking for—who read them?”

In L’Innommable the narrator has no personal name. The narrator is “the Unnamable, a being without being, who can neither live nor die, either begin nor leave off, the empty site in which an empty voice is raised without effect, masked for better or worse by a porous and agonizing I” who perseveres merely because it suffers “the curse of not being able to stop talking.”