Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Bicycles are commonly applied throughout The Selected Works of Samuel Beckett.  As the wheels of a bicycle rotate, their motion continually increases and decreases, but the wheels have no end just as the writings of Samuel Beckett. The cyclical writing and constant questioning of realities and facts leaves the reader without an answer, without end. Beckett end? No end, endless Beckett, ending never. There is no sure truth in Beckett's words. This causes confusion, and initiates critical thought in the reader.

 As I contemplate the words of Beckett and come to a conclusion I am forced to drop back and punt. Yes, possibly my conclusion would be right, but because of Beckett's elusive writing I may be basing my opinion off of his lies and not the truth. Beckett is direct in his indirect use of words. There is no end and so the reader will never be entirely convinced of their interpretation of his works.  Beckett was aware of this. Although his physical body is dead, Beckett is immortal and will outlive us all through his words. 

Bicycles symbolize Beckett's the only thing that brings both himself and his characters true happiness, love, and joy. In "Fingal" Belacqua finds happiness in neither his female companion Winnie, himself, nor the landscape. It is not until his discovery of a bicycle that he is aroused to life. 

"It was a fine light machine, with red tires and wooden rims. He ran down the margin to the road and it bounded alongside under his hand. He mounted and they flew down the hill and round the corner till they came at length to the stile that led into the field where the church was. The machine was a treat to ride, on his right hand the sea was foaming among the rocks, the sands ahead were another yellow again, beyond them in the distance the cottages of Rush were bright red. Belacqua's sadness fell from him like a shift" (96).

Not only does Belacqua's sadness fall away upon discovery of the bicycle, but he treats it as a companion full of life. It is not he that flies down the hill, but they, he and the bicycle. Reference to Beckett's affinity is found in "Molloy" as well. 

"Dear bicycle, I shall not call you bike, you were green, like so many of your generation, I don't know why. It is a pleasure to meet it again. To describe it at length would be a pleasure. It had a little red horn...To blow this horn was for me a real pleasure, almost a vice. I will go further and declare that if I were obliged to record, in a roll of honour, those activities which in the course of my interminable existence have given me only a mild pain in the balls, the blowing of a rubber horn-toot!- would figure among the first" (12).

The bicycle does not reappear further in "Molloy" past the first chapter, but this love of his bicycle contrasts the tone of apathy and forgetfulness that consumes this first chapter of "Molloy". 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I know from Dr. Hobby and "Damned to Fame" that Beckett was athletic. He played golf, cricket, rugby, he swam, went for hours-long walks, rode bicycles and motorcycles, drove a sports car, and, as a kid, jumped out of tall trees.

    I don't know what went on in his head, but, given his reported tendency towards solitude and depression, all that outdoor activity makes sense. Lots of people cure gloominess with exercise and sunshine. I can imagine Beckett using physical activity to get outside of his head, which, for so many of his characters, can be a very stagnant, oppressive place.

    Riding a bike is the opposite of stagnant and oppressive—it's freeing and fun. That may be why Beckett's characters—most of whom, given their tendency towards endless interior monologues, probably suffer from "thought fatigue"—take such comfort in going for spins through the countryside.