Christopher Ricks   Beckett’s Dying Words: The Clarendon Lectures, 1990.
Oxford University Press, 218 pages, $25

reviewed by John Simon

Whether or not it features seven (or more) types of ambiguity, Christopher Ricks’s Beckett’s Dying Words displays at least three types of opacity: the opacity that comes from extreme compression, the opacity that derives from constant allusion and word play, and the opacity caused by a basic indifference to the reader’s comfort. I am a great admirer of Professor Ricks’s wit, erudition, and ability to make everything connect— whether by conjunction or mere disjunctive juxtaposition, to say as it were, “How revealingly different this is from that”—but I do not think that a commentary should be harder going than what it comments on. Especially if the text is Beckett’s oeuvre, which needs no further...


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