The nature and art of love in ‘Enough’


Peter Murphy


It is ironic that whereas previous works (most notably Texts for nothing and How it is) were either neglected or oversimplified by critics who declined or failed to see their full complexity, ‘Enough’ is usually accorded only passing attention because of its ostensible simplicity and clarity. Either way the result is detrimental to our appreciation of Beckett’s development in the post-trilogy writings. Barbara Hardy states ‘it seems stupid or indecent to over-analyse this story.1 John J. Mood merely paraphrases the work in order to arrive at a naive affirmative reading—‘enough to have this memory of a past life, enough to have had that life’2—a reading which, like Hardy’s, denies the need for any further explanation: ‘It is compact and requires careful reading but presents no particular difficulties. In itself it is a low-keyed largo version of familiar Beckett themes. If indeed it is closely connected with the other two stories [i.e. “Imagination Dead Imagine” and “Ping”] it may take on additional significance.’3 The last sentence helps locate the real reason why critics have not engaged with the many crucial questions raised by ‘Enough.’ Under the influence of a reductive pattern in Beckett’s works, critics have tended to regard ‘Enough’ as a beautifully crafted anomaly that is peripheral to more experimental works like ‘Imagination Dead Imagine’ and ‘Ping’ which are somehow felt to deal more uncompromisingly and accurately with Beckett’s vision of how it is. This is essentially the point of view adopted by Brian Finney in both his pamphlet Since ‘How it is’ and his article ‘Samuel Beckett’s shorter fiction’ in Katharine Worth’s collection Beckett the shape changer. For Finney the narrator’s story in ‘Enough’ is only further testimony of man’s incurable weakness for self-delusion. Beckett’s own startled reaction to the text—‘I don’t know what came over me’4—is cited in support of the argument that ‘Enough’ lies outside the main development of his work in this period.


Nothing could, in fact, be further from the truth. Along with Lessness and Still, ‘Enough’ constitutes the central line of development from How it is. There is a progressive movement in these works towards an Orphic series of balances between word and world which would vindicate the conception of being. A ‘thinking dialogue’ with the text is required to reveal the nature of the harmony created. The task is not ‘stupid or indecent,’ but absolutely necessary. One can still agree with Katharine Worth’s judgment that ‘critics who deal more readily in ideas than processes lose sight of the thing as it is.’5 Yet Beckett defies any convincing description as a mere shape changer, a Proteus; the essential myth governing the developing shape of his art is that of Orpheus. Above all else the myth instructs us in the need to grasp both ‘ideas’ and ‘processes.’ In ‘Enough’ the narrator does literally ‘lose sight of the thing as it is’: it is the starting point and sine qua non of her6 birth as an artist in her own right. How it is had as a central theme the inescapable necessity of presenting ‘how it is’ by means of a series of ‘as-if’ transformations. While self-serving, such fictions are by no means simply deceptive or delusional. Since Murphy Beckett has sought the identification of ‘fact’ and ‘fantasy’ that constitutes a myth—a ‘true fiction.’ The narrator’s double vision in ‘Enough,’ the often contradictory description of the same scene (most notably that which deals with her abandonment by the old man) does not undercut the truth of her narration. To use Vaihinger’s words, truth is ‘the most expedient form of error.’ The freedom with which variants on the central theme of the parting are employed prepares the way for the final statements that clarify the ambiguity of the title: ‘Nothing but the two of us dragging through the flowers. Enough my old breasts feel his old hands.’7 The ‘natural order’ of How it is—journey, couple, abandon—has been complemented by the art of the narrator in ‘Enough.’ The lone journey after the abandonment has led to a realm where art allows for an ultimate reconciliation with her mentor/lover.


The ‘sérénité’8 Janvier speaks of with regard to ‘Enough’ is epitomized by the Orphic utterance of the last two sentences: beauty is truth and truth beauty. Translation of these statements will show that they are not merely wishful-filling fantasies employed to quell the anxiety of loss. They are sublimations, of course, but ones that have not lost their roots in bodily values. Beauty is obviously associated with the body, and truth, as How it is exemplified, must be manufactured from the mud or excrement. If ‘anatomy is a whole’ (155), the aesthetic and physical functions cannot be dissociated. However superb the stars may appear, man cannot deny his earthly nature. This is why the old man’s head virtually sweeps the ground. Although his companion wonders what the reason for this ‘taste’ was—‘To love of the earth and flowers’ thousand scents and hues. Or to cruder imperatives of an anatomical order’ (157)—the only answer is both. In the Orphic purification rituals the initiate threw himself into the mud in order to transcend the mire of being merely human. How it is was a comparable rite de passage. It was, however, much more faithful to the meaning of Orpheus himself than to the pseudo-mystical teaching which grew up around his name. The point of the journey through the mud was not to escape the contingencies of the human but to become more human, fully human, as an Orpheus figure capable of forging his being from the antithesis of his Apollonian and Dionysian natures.


At the conclusion of ‘Enough’ just such a balance is effected. Through the medium of art this ‘Eurydice’ has regained her lost one by herself becoming a type of ‘Orpheus.’ The victory is realistically qualified: s/he is now old, ‘entering night I have kinds of gleams in my skull. Stony ground but not entirely’ (154). The golden age of saturnia regna has passed; Chronos, that ‘double-headed monster of damnation and salvation’ now holds sway. The cycle is, however, regenerative, for it is from the union of Eros and Night that the heavens and earth emerge from Chaos in the Orphic cosmology. Other elements in the text are uniquely Orphic and contribute to the vital theme of reconciliation. The only exclamation mark9 directly attributed to the old man is brought forth by the sighting of the Lyre or the Swan.’10 The Lyre is the sign of Orpheus and contains Vega, ‘the falling vulture.’ If Orpheus was finally raised to the stars, the myth retains as its abiding centre the creative juxtaposition of the self’s yearning for an assumption with an awareness of man’s terrestrial nature. The amazing statement ‘We lived on flowers. So much for sustenance’ (159) is much more, however, than a declaration of an ideal Orphic harmony with nature. The tabulation of Orphic elements in ‘Enough’ does not explain how the text develops the major insights of How it is. The most important clues for an answer to this question are found in the last paragraph: ‘He halted and without having to stoop caught up a handful of petals . . . They had on the whole a calming action . . . Nothing but the two of us dragging through the flowers’ (159) (italics mine). Not since ‘The Calmative’ has Beckett so clearly emphasized the affirmative qualities of his Orphic poem ‘The Vulture.’ The trilogy showed how Beckett’s investigation of the nature of fiction, particularly the author-character relationship, resulted in a movement towards Gnosticism and the dissolution of the creative syntheses upon which the Orphic elements of the poem were based. ‘Enough’ re-establishes the possibility of a creative relationship among various dimensions of self. At this point in Beckett’s work any simple return is, however, impossible. ‘The Vulture’ paradigm must itself be revised.


The most important modification is that instead of the solitary vulture ‘dragging his hunger through the sky’ there are ‘two of us dragging through the flowers.’ The narrator’s head is still ‘my skull shell of sky and earth.’ But it is no longer a motivating factor and can be quickly passed over. For the old man there is no need to ‘stoop.’ Instead of an ‘eye ravening patient in the haggard vulture face’ (Text 1, 77), there is the human and sentimental—‘I felt in my eye a glint of blue bloodshot apparently affected’ (156). The notion of calm (never fully achieved in ‘The Calmative’ and subsequent works) has replaced the inhuman intensity and patience of the vulture revision of Text 1. The calmness is in large part attributable to the fact that a third person is not required; they have already ‘take [n] up their life and walk [ed] .’ Nor is the narrator any longer ‘mocked by a tissue that may not serve/till hunger earth and sky be offal.’ It is ‘enough my old breasts feel his old hands.’ Beckett’s own consternation before ‘Enough’ is more readily understandable if rephrased—‘I know what did not come over me.’ The vulture as a predatory force compelling fictions to take up roles that hopelessly complicate the questions of being and authority is absent in ‘Enough.’ Like ‘The Vulture,’ ‘Enough’ is an Orphic text of the kind W.K.C. Guthrie has written about:


            The Orphic poems are pervaded with a sense of the mystery and

            paradox of life, from their preoccupation with the eternal question

            —how shall all be one yet each thing apart?—to their culmination

            in the revealing of our own half-divine, half-earthly nature, with the

            complete change of outlook, the new obligations and the undreamed

            of yearnings which that revelation imparts.11


The first paragraph of ‘Enough’ serves as a prologue:


            All that goes before forget. Too much at a time is too much. That

            gives the pen time to note. I don’t see it but I hear it there behind me.

            Such is the silence. When the pen stops I go on. Sometimes it refuses.

            When it refuses I go on. Too much silence is too much. Or it’s my

            voice too weak at times. The one that comes out of me. So much

            for the art and craft.(153).


The first sentence is particularly rich in ambiguity. To what does the ‘before’ refer? Unless the opening injunction is intended ironically as an expression of an impossible desire to confine the narrative to the present moment, it appears to bear little relevance to the story that follows. The narrator is obsessed with what went ‘before,’ especially ‘our last decade comprised between the two events described’ (158), namely, the ‘sacral prognosis’ and the order for her to leave. There is no need to forget the period preceding the first of these boundary points for they are referred to as ‘engulfed years’—‘those that were before and must have resembled it [i.e. ‘our last decade] like blades of grass’ (158). Nor can the ‘before’ refer to the period between her ‘disgrace’ and her present act of narration. S/he states that after their separation ‘in the years that followed I did not exclude the possibility of finding him again’ (158). Several references are also made to her present position, creating thereby, in however rudimentary a fashion, a sense of time as a continuum, albeit punctuated by lacunae. The ‘before’ needs to be regarded in a more general frame of reference: it must refer to previous works in which there has been ‘too much at a time.’ In The Unnamable and Texts for nothing, for example, there were either too many competing voices or too great an emphasis upon the sanctuary promised by the silence. The often breathless rush of works in earlier works is humorously pointed to by this narrator who favours very terse simple sentences—‘That gives the pen time to note.’ There are, however, variations upon the writing situation found in earlier works. The silence is pictured ‘behind’ the narrator as in The Unnamable, Texts for nothing and How it is. As in the latter two works, there is a scribe who records the voice. The most suggestive parallel is with Text 5 in which the narrator is both ‘scribe’ and ‘advocate.’ The last line of that text— .’ . . very tired of one’s quill, it falls, it’s noted’—expresses a paradoxical continuation that is echoed in ‘Enough’—‘When the pen stops I go on.’ Quite obviously her being continues whether the pen records or not, but, as a writer, her being does not. Or rather it can only exist in a negative manner. When in Text 5 ‘it’s noted’ is added after ‘it falls,’ the phrase is really redundant since the very act of the quill falling has recorded itself. In this way, ‘silence’ or ‘refusal’ can be noted.12


‘Enough’ is primarily concerned with the reciprocal nature of the voice/pen relationship. Sometimes her voice is ‘too weak’ to continue. A series of possible permutations are thus brought to mind, permutations which are embodied later in the text in an odd paragraph that lists, in the fashion of Watt, all the various logical possibilities governing the couple’s communication. The point to be made at this stage in the discussion is that the mode of the man’s speaking (‘He sometimes halted without saying anything. Either he had finally nothing to say or while having something to say he finally decided not to say it’ [156]) serves as the model for the aesthetic outlined in the first paragraph. The crucial difference is that now a reversal of roles has occurred: the woman has replaced the man as the central speaker. The artistic situation is more complex than the natural one. Whereas s/he always willingly complied with her companion’s need to communicate (‘I bowed down as usual to save him having to repeat himself’ [156]; ‘he wished everything to be heard’ [155]), the pen, representing the craftsman aspect of her new role as artist, often baulks at recording her utterances. The first paragraph comments elliptically on the fact that the piece of writing called ‘Enough’ is the product of the times at which ‘art and craft’ were able to combine their efforts. Numerous silences are to be assumed during the creation of the work. What is new in ‘Enough’ is the emphasis upon the need for co-operation between art and craft in order to overcome the tautology ‘too much silence is too much.’ In ‘Three Dialogues’ Beckett asserted ‘to be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, failure is his world and the shrink from it desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living.’13 But his attitude to art has changed: there is something to express in ‘Enough.’ Although only briefly discussed, ‘art and craft’ are not here contemptuously dismissed. They are the means of expressing the central theme—living: ‘it is then I shall have lived or never’ (p. 154). Furthermore, it is the ‘good housekeeping’ of the last sentences which affirms that art need not be identified with failure but can successfully recapture in the present the essence of all that has gone before and cannot be forgotten - ‘Now I’ll wipe out everything but the flowers’ (159).


The assertion of a single unified voice rather than a list of competing ‘I’s’ allows for new possibilities in the depiction of the creative act (or, perhaps more accurately, allows Beckett to succeed in the more traditional ways he has denied himself). The most startling consequence of Beckett’s return to the Orphic aspects of the vulture aesthetic is an expansion of the concept of the organic. Word-hunger is no longer exclusively concerned with the ‘offal’ or ‘precipitates’ resulting from the dissolution of the organic - ‘les fleurs du mal.’ Man is now viewed as flora and fauna.14 While the narrator writes from the experience of her aged flesh, s/he finds correspondence between her ‘flowing’ and the flowers which filled the world when s/he was young and with the man. As a writer, s/he comes to an awareness of how ‘the thousand flowers of rhetoric’ can help recapture the experience of her own ‘blooming.’ It is fitting that in this most traditional of Beckett’s works the time-honoured description of tropes as flowers should receive such prominence. There is an acceptance of the ability of language to express, a notion which Beckett has challenged since Dream of fair to middling women. ‘Enough’ could be seen as a direct refutation of this passage from Beckett’s first novel:


            The experience of my reader shall be between the phrases, in the

            silence, communicated by intervals, not the terms, of the statement,

            between the flowers that cannot coexist, the antithetical (nothing so

            simple as the antithetical) seasons of words, his experience shall be the

            menace, the miracle, the memory of an unspeakable trajectory (italics



Compare this with the remarkable passage in ‘Enough’ where the flowers do coexist: ‘I see the flowers at my feet and it’s the others I see. Those we trod down with equal step. It is true they are the same’ (156). The power of her art is evidently capable of literally transporting her back in time so that the present vision of the flowers is superimposed or merged with the earlier. The first paragraph alerted the reader to ‘silence’ and ‘intervals.’ But the experience of the reader in ‘Enough’ is not primarily focussed ‘between the phrases.’ One of the reasons for the absence of commas may be to forestall any possibility of experiencing the pauses between phrases as being more important than ‘the terms of the statement.’ The ‘miracle’of ‘Enough’ is ‘the memory of a speakable trajectory.’ However painful the revisiting of the scene of her abandonment may be, it is capable of being voiced because it contains a truth that is uniquely human.


For Beckett to achieve this statement in ‘Enough’—and it is, despite its distinctive qualities, the expression of the oldest hope of the writer, that art can somehow redeem the withering of time—his whole conception of the question of authority had to be radically altered. For the ‘trajectory’ to be expressed effectively the ‘I’ must have an unquestioned integrity, an ontological status that has been absent since at least Mercier and Camier. How it is played a decisive role in resolving the conflict between an Author-God figure and the narratorial ‘I’ who strives to create a language of his own suit- able for the expression of his own being. Each must be allowed to go their own way or form a partnership that serves both their needs. ‘Enough’ carries further this parable of authority with its need for a demarcation of responsibilities. When under the tutelage of the nameless man who has guided her since her sixth year, there is obviously no problem of authority since s/he effaces herself before ‘all his desires and needs’ (153). However, once forced upon her own all that has gone before has to be forgotten. S/he has a free hand. The implications of her forced freedom are apparent in the second statement on aesthetics: ‘All I know comes from him. I won’t repeat this apropos of all my bits of knowledge. The art of combining is not my fault. It’s a curse from above. For the rest I would suggest not guilty’ (154). ‘Curse from above’ is intriguingly ambiguous: it can be associated with both her companion (who originally appears as a ‘giant’ towering above her) and with a Divine punishment (the words ‘mansion above’ immediately precede this paragraph). The ambiguity serves to conflate the role of the man (who appears in many ways to have ‘authored’ her life) and the role of God. In any case the ‘curse’ is a sentence of excommunication which paradoxically necessitates another form of communication. A force ‘above’ has compelled her against her will to be free. Away from the range of the man’s voice, s/he must pursue her own ‘art of combining.’ Whether or not it is her ‘fault,’ s/he must accept responsibility for the words. This is evident in a paragraph omitted from the English version: ‘Toutes ces notions sont de lui. Je ne fais que les combiner à ma facon. Donné quatre ou cinq vies comme celle-là j’aurais pu laisser une trace.16 If the act is in some ways predetermined, it is correspondingly in some ways free.


The question of authority is throughout Beckett identified with the quest for origins. The central unit to be investigated is naturally the family and the intimately aligned issues of genealogy and self-identification within the group structure, issues which Freud drew together under the rubric of ‘the family romance.’ With regard to the parable of authority, Beckett pursues origins in terms of parallels with both the divine and secular family romance. This approach is evident as early as the footnote in ‘Whoroscope’ (‘He proves

God by exhaustion’) to the line ‘So I’m not my son.’17 The father/son relationship is particularly important in terms of the struggle for authority between author and character. A brief outline of the basic issues involved in the ‘family romance’ is necessary in ‘Enough’ because it is one of the ‘questions you see and don’t ask yourself’ (153).


Even in Beckett’s works, where there is little of what could be regarded as ‘social background,’ ‘Enough’ is unique in that there is no direct reference to the family situation. While the work may contain ‘familiar Beckett themes’ as Mood states, it does not contain references to the most ‘familiar’ theme of all—the family. The issue of ‘the honour of the family’ is prevalent from More pricks than kicks to How it is. Although Belacqua has lost his family in the collection of short stories (now referred to as his ‘late family’18) he is still preoccupied with his responsibilities to what it stood for. Although Murphy’s parents are never mentioned, the narrator is anxious to stress that he is not illegitimate. Watt, whose origins are scantily outlined at best, does periodically have visions of his father. With the turning inwards of Beckett’s fiction in ‘The Calmative’ and Mercier and Camier, the question or origins takes on a new urgency and significance. To validate their own being the narrators seek to beget themselves, to be the father of their own selfhood, thus making irrelevant any conception of an Authorial figure beyond the narration who could be responsible for their existence. The unnamable is the climax of this obsession with ‘notions of forebears.’ In one of his stories, he imagines himself ‘rid at one glorious sweep of parents, wife and heirs’ (Three novels, 323). Unfortunately, he ends up needing a God figure, the father figure raised to another plane. The causa sui project ends in a parody of the biblical tautology ‘I am who I am.’ Unable to truly beget himself, the Unnamable lacks any claim to being. His only ploy (also common in Texts for nothing and Fizzles) is to maintain that he has never been born. How it is is the pivotal revisionary work in Beckett’s rethinking of the ‘family romance.’ While creator and created must be allowed to go their own ways, there is also a positive aspect of their relationship that Beckett did not develop in How it is. Once the causa sui project is abandoned, the ‘family romance’ can take on the affirmative meaning of a living tradition that allows for the individual’s right to go his own way in seeking an independence which is enhanced by the fact that it is conditioned by the past. The consequence of this new view of authority and genesis are developed in ‘Enough.’ In terms of family background, it is simply stated that the woman ‘belonged to an entirely different generation’: ‘I cannot have been more than six when he took me by the hand. Barely emerging from childhood. But it didn’t take me long to emerge altogether’ (154).


Beckett’s statement on the origin of ‘Enough’—‘I don’t know what came over me’—can be further explicated by reference to an abandoned work he wrote in 1963 entitled J.M. Mime.19 The work has many startling similarities with ‘Enough’ which appears in some ways as its offspring. Mother and son wander through a terrain littered with stones (‘stony ground’ indeed). Time has blurred the child/parent distinction: ‘We are so old now we might be the same generation.’ The mother lags behind ‘looking for flowers’ and the son concludes she must think they are heading towards ‘some place with fruit and flowers and wells.’ The paradisial landscape of ‘Enough’ is embryonic in those few details. Even more relevant to ‘Enough’ are the comments the couple make on the dissolution of their family. The mother says the father ‘left the path . . . and strayed off.’ The son remembers his father’s pleading (‘Forgive me son’) not to be held guilty for bringing him into existence. Still the son felt that he ‘couldn’t forgive him.’ The statement of why the family has broken up is almost embarrassingly simple: ‘Mother never kissed us. Turn her head away and hold us off when we tried. Lick from the dog nearest we got.’ His sister has also disappeared: ‘One sister. Missed her one day and asked mother. Strayed off.’ She too has not had ‘a kiss all her days.’ ‘Enough’ is a sequel of sorts in which antithetical conclusions on the family structure are reached. In J.M. Mime the family has bifurcated along the common lines of mother and son, father and daughter. There are, of course, no grounds for assuming that the, father and daughter who have ‘strayed off’ are the couple in ‘Enough.’ There is, however, no doubt that the man, for at least part of the journey, does act as a father towards her. But the basis of their relationship is communication and affection, not consanguinity. The concerted investigation of the adult male/female child relationship is a first for Beckett.20  If their relationship begins as that of father and daughter, it quickly blossoms into that of man and wife. The basis of the family structure has been re-established. But the central focus of ‘Enough’ is upon their separation, the man’s command to depart. Without discounting the simple human aspects of this abandonment, it is possible to interpret the separation in terms of a parable of the origins of a writer who is compelled to make his/her own way after being guided by a precursor, a ‘spiritual father,’ the relationship to whom is for the artist necessarily ‘sensuous.’


Finney argues that the man and woman are actually two aspects of one identity.21 His prime support for this contention is a parallel with Text 1: ‘Yes, I was my father and I was my son, I asked myself questions and answered as best I could . . . we walked together, hand in hand, silent, sunk in our worlds, each in his worlds, the hands forgotten in each other’ (79). The sentences ‘We advanced side by side hand in hand’ (154), ‘Bent double heads touching silent hand in hand’ (156) are used to suggest that a similar set of equations is in effect in ‘Enough.’ Beckett’s subtle use of repeated phrase needs to be approached very carefully if important distinctions are not to be blurred. Finney in this instance ignores the vastly different contexts within which the parallel phrasing operates. First of all, Text 1, while it attempts to invoke the positive creative syntheses of ‘The Vulture,’ succeeds only in asserting them rather than embodying them: the problem of ‘me, here, and being’ still remains unresolved. Whereas in ‘Enough’ the ‘me’ is never in doubt even when s/he caters for all the man’s desires. A close parallel with ‘Enough’ is found in J.M. Mime: ‘The miles, the miles, sometimes hand in hand, talking to ourselves.’ And: ‘When I say talking to myself I mean there are two of me, one talking, the other listening.’ There is no suggestion here or in ‘Enough’ that the actual couple can be regarded as aspects of one identity. More damaging to Finney’s argument is the contention that the relationship in ‘Enough’ is that of ‘father and daughter,’ not father and son. While Beckett leaves in doubt the sexuality of the narrator, the priority of the anima cannot be gainsaid.22 The father/son connection is associated with the ill-fated causa sui project which the feminine anima affords an escape from.


The new concept of authority is in fact a most traditional one, and one moreover that Beckett has up to this point rejected. A fundamental requirement of the new view is to see that the father-complex is a religious function that has been misinterpreted in terms of biological and family relationships. Jung has written as effectively as anyone on this subject. The only way out of this ‘family romance’—‘the fleshly bond leading back to father and mother or forward to the children that have sprung from our flesh—“incest” with the past and “incest” with the future, the original sin of perpetuation of the “family romance”’23—is, Jung says, the opposite urge of life, the spirit:


            For thousands of years, rites of initiation have been teaching rebirth

            from the spirit; yet, strangely enough, man forgets again and

            again the meaning of divine procreation . . . Fortunately, we have

            proof that the spirit always renews its strength in the fact that the

            essential teaching of the initiations is handed on from generation

            to generation. Ever and again there are human beings who understand

            what it means that God is their father. The equal balance of the flesh

            and the spirit is not lost to the world.24


‘Enough’ is a religious work in the sense Beckett termed the only ‘intelligible’ one in Proust—it is both an assumption and an annunciation.25 If the old man is approaching an ‘assumption,’ the woman is the chosen vehicle of the ‘annunciation,’ the announcement of an incarnation.


The difficult birth that attends her emergence as a writer marks an important qualification of Jung’s idealizing impulse. Still it cannot be denied that there is an ‘openness’ in ‘Enough’ that distinguishes it in a radical way from Beckett’s previous depictions of the artist’s relationship with a final authority. There is no longer the paranoiac fascination with ‘notions of forebears’ and the vexed image of ‘windows lit at night’—indications that the ‘I’ is haunted by the thought of his true author’s inaccessibility—nor is there the compulsion to ‘spy’ on this deus absconditus as at the beginning of How it is: ‘.. . some creature or other I watched him after my fashion from afar through my spyglass side long in mirrors through windows at night first image’ (9). In contrast, the old man in ‘Enough’ is fascinated by the beauty of the ‘mansions above’: ‘in order from time to time to enjoy the sky he resorted to a little round mirror. Having misted it with his breath and polished it on his calf he looked in it for the constellations’ (154). The spirit and the flesh are balanced once God the father is transformed from a tyrannical authoritarian figure into a source of creativity with which the individual can willingly identify himself. His ‘broken paternosters’ are ‘poured out to the flowers at his feet’ (155). The narrator also gives voice to a ‘paternoster’ when s/he makes the flowers coexist. Jung’s ‘essential teaching of the initiations . . . handed on from generation to generation’ is a virtual description of the situation in ‘Enough’ in which ‘different generation[s] advanced side by side hand in hand’ (154).


The idealizing impulse needs to be further qualified and restrained at this point. The tough-minded Orphic confrontation with ‘the eternal question—how shall all be one yet each thing apart?’ and ‘the new obligations’ cannot be simply passed over. What, for example, is the meaning of the ‘un-handing’ in ‘Enough’? Does not the ‘severing’ suggest that the ‘generation,’ finally resolved on the religious plane, is still perpetuated on the secular one? To these queries the answer is no. In ‘Enough’ there is no ‘anxiety of influence’ as in Harold Bloom’s thesis that the newcomer (or ‘ephebe’) is enslaved by his precursor’s system and is consequently engaged in a life-long struggle to establish his own authority, a ‘victory’ that can only be gained at great cost, a repression of various ways and solutions arrived at in the ‘tradition’ the newcomer must strive to re-write. Bloom puts forward the view that ‘every forgotten precursor becomes a giant of the imagination,’26 that is, a force which must be opposed by the would-be ‘strong poet’ whether he consciously admits it or not. These views could be applied with some justice to Beckett’s earlier works. But they certainly do not apply to ‘Enough.’ For Bloom the determining factor in the ‘ephebe’s fantasia’ is to ‘quest antithetically enough, and live to beget yourself.’27 This raises once again the causa sui project Beckett finally managed to resolve in How it is. What is ‘forgotten’ in ‘Enough’ is not the teachings of the old man but the very attempt to beget oneself. The memory of the precursor may be distorted in ‘Enough’ but it is not ‘forgotten’ in the sense of ‘repressed’ with its host of pejorative Freudian implications. The old man does at first appear as a ‘giant’ (154), doubtlessly of her own imagination. The stress is, however, upon their progress towards an equal status —‘it didn’t take me long to emerge altogether’ (154). They walk with ‘equal step’ (156). During the last period of their travels, there is no conflict of generations—‘That part of it at least we were to make part of together’ (156).


There is no point in denying that all these actions are instigated by the man. But s/he is not forever bound to his system. As an artist s/he has to remember that her position is no longer subservient. He is ‘on his last legs’ (153; 158); ‘I had only to straighten up to be head and shoulders above him’ (155). In marked contrast to Bloom’s theory, the narrator’s ‘misinterpretations’ in ‘Enough’ are not designed to resolve a competition for ascendancy with the precursor. Rather they are intended as a means of reconciling her own needs with a sense of indebtedness to her mentor whose voice is now ‘spent’ (158). Her words now carry on the tradition, and, as it is a living tradition, there will necessarily be changes in emphasis. These changes do not, however, destroy the essential continuity. Tradition no longer carries the burden of guilt. ‘The art of combining is not my fault. It’s a curse from above. For the rest I would suggest not guilty,’ (154). What, then, is to be made of the obsession with ‘disgrace’? It is important to note that at one point s/he refers to ‘the day of my supposed disgrace’ (157). Taken in conjunction with the verdict of ‘not guilty’ and the various ways the scene of the ‘disgrace’ is presented (on a ‘crest’ and then ‘on the flat in a great calm’), it appears that s/he is aware of her innocence and as an artist cannot hide from her ‘new obligations’ by invoking the always convenient myth of an original sin. S/he is not Lot’s wife nor an amoral Lolita. If the ‘disgrace’ is a fall from favour, it is a ‘fortunate fall’ as it forces her to create her own values and meaning from the past. The message of homage and reconciliation with tradition is conveyed by Beckett, the arch-iconoclast of modern letters, through the choice for the first time of a feminine persona. The animus needs to be balanced by the anima if ‘the essential teaching . . . is handed on from generation to generation.’ Such a balance was always implicit, if a long time in coming to expression. Beckett’s first hero, Belacqua, was termed a ‘mixture of ephebe and old woman.’28


The form of ‘Enough’ determines and substantiates a new attitude towards tradition. It is a pastoral in which, through the creative interplay of Eros and Logos, the contradictions of inner life are temporarily resolved in the rite of art. The pastoral writer strives for a compromise between artifice and naturalness (a tension evident in the prologue paragraph), transcendence and immanence. As Richard Cody argues in The Landscape of the mind, the essential pastoral myth is independent of the details of the convention and concerns the reconciliation of the myths of Apollo and Bacchus: ‘Of all the mythic figures in the poetic theology Orpheus is the one most important to pastoralism.’29 But Empson’s seminal description of the pastoral ethos as a desire to put ‘complex into simple’ is also relevant to the poetics of ‘Enough.’ The pastoral form has the same effect as the gloves the couple wear: ‘Far from blunting the shapes they sharpened them by simplifying’ (154). ‘Enough’ is an authentic version of pastoral. It does not merely contain the ethos of the pastoral myth translated through the medium of different forms as traced in William Empson’s Some versions of pastoral.30 Pastoral is the form of ‘Enough’—it is the thing itself rather than about the thing. It is not wholly unexpected and by no means ironic that Beckett’s creation of a ‘true fiction’ should be the reincarnation of perhaps the most viable traditional literary genre of all.


Previous works contain many examples of Beckett’s own ‘versions of pastoral.’ While a detailed discussion of them would be out of place in this essay, a few general remarks will help reveal the uniqueness of Beckett’s handling of pastoral in ‘Enough.’ A pastoral mythos is implicit in More pricks than kicks with its alternation of city and country settings. But here nearly all treatment of the theme falls into the category of mock-pastoral. Even ‘Walking Out’ in which the tinker is forwarded as a ‘noble simple’ fails to achieve the reconciliation of class-divisions Empson sees as a characteristic of the genre. Belacqua is still the ‘wretched bourgeois’ who, while he may recognize ‘instinctive nobility,’ cannot partake of it since he is not ‘a real man.’ In Murphy and Watt the pastoral motif is used to mark the transition from one realm of reality (a social one) to another (the journey into the mind and towards creativity)—the mock pastoral in Hyde Park precedes Chapter 6 and Watt’s encounter with the goat and his experiences in the ditch precede his arrival at Knott’s. In Molloy the pastoral is identified with the heroic, a not uncommon association as Empson’s analyses indicate. Counterbalancing scenes involve Molloy and Moran in discussion with a shepherd whom they encounter on their journeys. All these examples of pastoral are ‘ironic,’ that is, they all deal with the protagonist in more or less ‘realistic’ situations which cannot be adequately transformed by the ‘complex into simple’ formula. They are novels in which the pastoral plays a part, often significant, but undeniably minor in an overview. The essential series of reconciliations involved in genuine pastoral cannot be implemented within a novel form that vainly seeks transcendence. For an appreciation of ‘Enough’ the most important precursor work is found in How it is,31 in a section Beckett drew attention to by a separate publication under the title of ‘L’lmage.’ The vision in the mud is a mock-pastoral of the ‘old dream of flowers and seasons’ (29). A number of the words used are echoed (and their meaning radically transformed) in ‘Enough’: in the ‘immensity of verdure’ the young couple stroll (‘empty hands mingle’), the young man resembles physically the old man of ‘Enough’ (‘knees wide astraddle for greater stability feet splayed’) the couple are in the mountains (‘of modest elevation our heads overtop the crest’), flowers are a prominent feature (‘all these colours cowslip or such like in the buttonhole’), then the mud closes over the scene—‘now it’s over it’s done I’ve had the image’ ( 31). The grotesque ironies of this pastoral interlude are replaced by the beauty and harmony of ‘Enough.’ The uniqueness of the later work derives from a consistent ‘as-if’ transformation in which the pastoral becomes the total metaphor of the world the characters inhabit. There are flowers in the mud of How it is;32 the problem there is that the sublimation cannot maintain itself. In ‘Enough’ the flowers themselves become the means of transcending the ‘mud’ or ‘stony ground.’


The strength and value of the pastoral myth can be examined through three central topics: nature, art, and love. The problem of the One and Many is resolved through the discordia concors of art; the rites of nature and love are finally subsumed by the rite of art. The concept of a whole person is not mere idealistic conjuring: the final integration of self is realistically founded upon a prior series of losses and sufferings. The Golden Age landscape of ‘Enough’ seeks by means of mythological language to become a beautific vision of divine perfection. The weather was ‘eternally mild,’ ‘windless’ (p. 158). Even the rain does not break the essential harmony: ‘sudden pelting downpours overtook us. Without noticeable darkening of the sky’ (p. 158).33 The ‘endless equinox’ is paralleled by another state of equilibrium - ‘we walked in a half sleep’ (p. 159). The celebration of the Golden Age is not simply a wistful reconstruction of a time when everlasting spring prevailed and the earth provided for man’s needs. On the contrary, its meaning is wholly metaphorical (‘as if the earth had come to rest in spring’ [158]. As Gaston Bachelard in Poetics of reverie states; ‘In days of happiness, the world is edible.’34 The natural partaking of man with his world replaces the divisiveness of the hunger drive’s aggression. Enough, we might say, is as good as a feast.


The ‘as-if’ nature of this ‘soulscape’ - the fluctuation between trope and assertion of reality - is especially apparent in the description of the ‘mounds.’ While it is stated that the man ‘clamoured for the steepest slopes,’ the narrator insists ‘we were not in the mountains however’ (157). The patently contradictory geographical details indicate an attempt to grasp metaphorically the idea of the Terrestrial Paradise where normal designations of space are no longer adequate. This ‘confusion’ is resolved in the last paragraph—‘Now I’ll wipe out everything but the flowers. No more rain. No more mounds.’ This cancellation moves towards an Orphic harmony and is without the Dionysian fury of the similar scene at the conclusion of How it is. The ‘happiness’ of the Golden Age can only have real meaning after it has been lost. Wishfulfilling images only gain significance when set in opposition to others. Note, for example, the narrator’s unawareness of the ‘windlessness’ until the man points it out. He has dwelt in other landscapes and is thus able to judge. He remembers the ‘shade and shelter of the forests’ (159), an echo perhaps of the heroic landscape of Molloy, one of those things ‘that for him were no more and for me could not have been’ (159). There is a third landscape, the ‘stony ground but not entirely’ of her present situation. Admitting this reality, s/he is still able to salvage the essence of the ideal landscape. All is erased except for the flowers.


Têtes-Mortes, the title of the collection in which ‘Assez’ appears, has a more affirmative connotation for this work than the others. ‘Dead-Heads’ has an obvious application to a work like ‘Imagination Dead Imagine.’ But ‘dead-heading’ is also a gardening term that refers to knocking the head of a dead flower off its stalk. The pastoralist with his vision of an ‘endless spring’ is always aware that ‘blooming is a budding withering.’35 More importantly the pastoralist never forgets the ultimate unity of the converse—withering is a blooming budding. This is the complete vision of the ‘doubleness’ Empson sees as a defining characteristic of pastoral. There are still ‘gleams’ in the narrator’s head—the ‘arctic flowers’ of ‘Enueg I’ and Mercier and Camier can coexist with those of spring. Once again the anima has the final word. There were ‘No flowers’ at the funeral of Belacqua that ‘strong young rose.’36 But one of his wives ‘hid in her bosom’ the petals of the bridal bouquet. ‘Time might pulverize these mementoes, but at least elements would belong to her forever. She was a most strange girl.’37


All pastoral aspires to the condition of epithalamium. The last sentences of ‘Enough’ recreate the act of love, termed the only ‘meeting and parting’ (153) in Murphy. Love contains the idea of both unity and separation. The demands for a whole cannot be satisfied in life with its ‘partings’ as well as ‘meetings.’ In this regard, ‘Enough’ is an elegy of a love lost and then regained through the ministrations of art. ‘Words’ are finally for this narrator her ‘only love,’ but in a sense quite different from that in From an abandoned work. Since all s/he knows comes from the man, her words are also his. Through these words combined in her own way, they do meet again in the image of the flowers that coexist. The word love is used only twice: ‘he loved to climb,’ ‘to love of the earth and the flowers’ thousand scents and hues’ (157). But words are a whole, just like anatomy. They are drawn towards the summits of the impossible and towards the concreteness of the earth. Words are the means of recapturing the strange blend of ‘priapic’ and ‘Platonic’ love that characterizes their ‘coupling.’ Beckett has long abandoned the ‘intellectual love’ of Murphy (dismissed as ‘drivel’ in ‘First love’38). The emphasis in ‘Enough’ is on a form of communication that lies outside the mind/body dualism. Although the narrator obsessively returns to details of their physical contact, s/he devotes at least equal attention to logic, mathematics, astronomy and geodesy.39 The man is her educator as well as her lover.


The reconciliation via the ‘complex into simple’ pattern is worked by taking the metaphor literally. The flowers that express the quintessential reality of her narration are the ‘flowers of rhetoric.’40 In a piece dominated by phrasing of staccato brevity, with an occasional preference for the pedantic turn of phrase, the flowers convey an eloquent if astringent lyricism. The absence of flourishes or festoons serves to set off the true flowers. The images of flowers/breasts/hands are a sublimation, a fiction, which s/he has the strength to impose upon her present reality.


‘Flowers’ is also a chemical term for the powder left after sublimation. The term ‘residual’ also has a more positive connotation when applied to ‘Enough.’ Enough, if her life is justified, and remains justified, before itself, in the sublime totality of her own nature. S/he is not fixated upon the period of her life with the man. It is not ‘enough’ that s/he have this memory of a past life as Mood says. S/he does not in fact deny her being in time since their separation. It is the hardships of the subsequent years that enable her to understand what she possessed before and thus able to appreciate its loss. To become a writer is to enter a state of being in which all knowledge is only gained when it is too late to be of simple utilitarian value. Nevertheless, from her dismemberment s/he does manage to create an Orphic balance between body and spirit, beauty and truth, past and present. ‘The pastoralist in any poet is that part of him which knows how little of what matters can be said.’41 To have been able to say ‘enough’42 was perhaps more than could have been expected.


The ultimate expression of unity is the language of ‘Enough.’ After the similarity disorder of Texts for nothing and the contiguity disorder of How it is, language again functions normally, partaking of both the ability to formulate comparisons and to order them within the logical hierarchy of conventional sentence structure. The ‘simplicity’ of the text is an impression created largely by the extensive use of the simple sentence form. As commented on before with regard to the opening paragraph on aesthetics, the simple sentences are the result of a complex interrelationship of ‘pen’ and ‘voice.’ An obvious quality of this partnership is the oral quality of much of the text. As in ordinary conversation, many units do not fall into the strict definition of a sentence and are more accurately termed fragments. For example: ‘He was not given to talk. An average of a hundred words per day and night. Spaced out. A bare million in all. Numerous repeats. Ejaculations. Too few for even a cursory review’ (159). No particular problem in understanding is posed by these fragmentary ‘sentences’; they simply stand in opposition to the kernel topic sentence. But while the work functions normally on the plane of the sentence, there is a contiguity disorder on the level of inter-sentence relationships. It is often difficult to trace the logical connection between sentences. Often the sentences seem isolated from each other, independent units between which there is no obvious or natural connection. This situation is most acute in the first paragraph because the story has not yet been introduced which will supply a common focus for the words. But there is a remarkable paragraph where this contiguity disorder is itself the subject under consideration:


            Other main examples suggest themselves to the mind. Immediate

            continuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing

            with delayed redeparture. Delayed continuous communication with

            immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Immed-

            iate discontinuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same

            thing with delayed redeparture. Delayed discontinuous communication

            with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture



The point needs to be stressed again that her own communication, the text entitled ‘Enough,’ follows the same patterns. Her voice is now ‘too weak at times’ and s/he also has to ‘fumble for [her] words’ as did the old man. The simultaneous sense of continuity and discontinuity in her narrative is a stylistic equivalent of her relationship with the man to whom in her musings s/he is both joined and severed.


The ‘main experience’ of the reader of ‘Enough’ does not lie, as Dream suggests it should, in these intervals. The ‘syntax of weakness’ becomes a means of giving expression to being. There is a counterbalancing emphasis upon the comparisons drawn between herself and the man. Because s/he is now like him when s/he speaks or writes (before, during the actual period of the journey, s/he could only assume ‘when he was silent he must have been like me’ [153], a new unity is possible. The sense of uncertainty created by the frequent use of the ‘if . . .’ construction (most significantly in the repeated ‘if the question were put to me . . .’ [154; 156]) is finally resolved in the ‘as-if’ of the last paragraph - ‘nothing but the two of us dragging through the flowers.’ The final paragraph breaks down the ‘I’—‘he’dualism that has predominated. ‘We’ and ‘us’ create a new collective unity. The ‘my’ and ‘his’ of the last sentence convey a wholeness that has not been present since the ‘his’ and ‘my’ of the first two lines of ‘The Vulture.’ The last sentences of ‘Enough’ reshape and answer the query that was pedantically put forth earlier—‘if the question were put to me suitably framed I would say yes indeed the end of this long outing was my life’ (156). It can only be ‘suitably framed’ in a poetic statement, not with professorial detachment or pseudo- scientific notation. The shift of tense between past and present in her recollections makes it clear that the ‘long outing’ has not yet ended but still continues in the present. Fact and fantasy merge to create a mythological statement. The ‘doubleness’ of words was earlier pointed to in the old man’s ‘vision’ and ‘sacral ruins,’ words which draw together the anatomical and the prophetic. The family of words with all their connections unites the physical and spiritual. Only through a critical and poetic use of words can the ‘family romance’ with its questions of authority be resolved.


‘How far this was not a delusion I cannot say’ (156). The narrator’s doubt about the man’s vision can be applied equally to her own final vision and to the critic’s interpretation of it. It is certainly a question that needs to be raised. The interpretation of ‘Enough’ argued in this essay is so radically at odds with the ‘traditional’ views that it may appear as an ‘idealization’—a ‘delusion.’ However, the reading is accommodated by the text, if not by the more usual interpretations of Beckett’s so-called pessimism, nihilism, scepticism etc. It is much more difficult to discuss ‘love’ than to comment on Beckett’s so-called quest for meaninglessness and the void with all its attendant fashionable rhetoric. For a writer who has always masked his thoughts on love the simplicity of ‘Enough’ is overwhelming. No wonder Beckett was amazed: ‘I don’t know what came over me.’ As the narrator of ‘First Love’ ruefully commented, ‘either you love or you don’t.’43


The Orphic harmony of ‘Enough’ has its source in Beckett’s early work and the radical new vision of How it is. The transition is also noticeable in the ‘fizzles’ of the early sixties: the Gnostic dualisms of ‘I gave up before birth’ with its litany of hate (‘he’ll never say I anymore, he’ll never say anything anymore .  .  . because of me’) give way to the atonement of ‘Old Earth’ (‘Happiness, what happiness, but what deaths, what loves, I knew at the time, it was too late then’)44 ‘Enough’ may be the most obvious example of the Orphic strain in Beckett’s later thought and art, but it is an illustration of an abiding presence. In less obvious ways the Orphic element is present in his subsequent works where he tries to bring language and being into a new unity.


1 Barbara Hardy, ‘The dubious consolations in Beckett’s fiction: art, love and nature,’ in Katharine Worth, Beckett the shape changer. (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975) 119.

2 John J. Mood, ‘Silence Within’: A study of the Residua of Samuel Beckett,’ Studies in short fiction 7, 1970, 389-90.

3 John Fletcher, The Novels of Samuel Beckett, (Chatto and Windus, 1970) 235.

4 Katharine Worth, Beckett the shape changer. 75.

5 Katharine Worth, Beckett the shape changer, 14-15.

6 The question of the sexual identity of the narrator is one of the riddles of ‘Enough.’ Physical details such as ‘mucous membrane’ and ‘old breasts’are by themselves ambiguous for they could be equally applied to male and female. If, as the old man states, ‘anatomy is a whole,’ it is also clear that the wholeness of narration in ‘Enough’ is dependent upon the ascendancy of the anima in the narrator’s persona. For that reason the convention of representing the third person feminine pronoun as ‘s/he’ has been used in order to maintain the ambiguity while the importance of the feminine component is kept before the reader by the use of the feminine possessive form (‘her’).

7 Samuel Beckett, ‘Enough’ in No’s Knife (Collected Short Prose 1945-1966) (London: Calder and Boyars, 1967), 159. All future references are from this edition, and are included in the text.

8 Ludovic Janvier, Pour Samuel Beckett (Paris: Minuit, 1966), 222.

9 The work contains one other exclamation mark and two question marks. The lack of any other punctuation in the text is clarified by this reference to Dream of fair to middling women: ‘The inviolable criterion of poetry and music, the non-principle of their punctuation, is figured in the demented perforations of the night colander.’ In ‘Enough’ there is the harmony of Lyre and Cygnus, the principle, as it were, of their non-punctuation (Reading University Beckett Collection copy, 123).

10 It has not been noticed that Beckett’s initial attempt to escape the impasse of The Unnamable involved a return to the aesthetic of ‘The Vulture.’ The poem is virtually repeated by means of direct references and paraphrase in the section of Text 1 that attempts to answer the question, ‘What possessed you to come?’

11 W.K.C. Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek Religion (London: Methuen and Co., 1936) 89.

12 Compare with Beckett’s description of the ‘miracle’ of,’involuntary memory’ in Proust (Grove Press, 1970): ‘the central impression of a past sensation recurs as an immediate stimulus which can be instinctively identified by the subject with the model of duplication (whose integral purity has been retained because it has been forgotten),’ 54. (Beckett’s own italics).

13 Samuel Beckett, ‘Three Dialogues,’ in Samuel Beckett: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Martin Esslin, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1965) 21.

14 This identification was stressed throughout ‘Dante . . . Bruno. Vico. Joyce’ (in Our Exagmination round his Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress Shakespeare and Co., Paris, 1929) in the pairing of ‘flowers of corruption’ ‘seeds of vitality’ (6), ‘This inner elemental vitality and corruption of expression . . .’ (16). In his ‘last word on the Purgatories,’ Beckett emphasises in Joyce ‘a flood of movement and vitality’ (22). By emphasising man as flora and fauna in Enough Beckett also stresses the theme of ‘vitality,’ without, however, giving ‘ the sense that the vicious circle of humanity is being achieved’ (22).

15 Samuel Beckett, Dream of Fair to Middling Women, Reading University—Beckett collection copy, 123.

16 Samuel Beckett, ‘Assez’ in Têtes-Mortes (Paris: Minuit, 1967), 43. There are thus twenty nine paragraphs in the French version. The paragraph may have been omitted to conform with the opening ‘All that goes before forget’: ‘trace’ is an important word in ‘Imagination Dead Imagine’which was composed before ‘Enough.’

17 Samuel Beckett, Collected Poems in English and French, (London: John Calder Limited, 1977) 6; 4.

18 Samuel Beckett, ‘Yellow,’ More pricks than kicks (Grove Press, 1970), 159; 163.

19 J. (Jack) M. (McGowran) Mime is an abandoned work written in long hand in a Herakles notebook, dated 1963 and in Trinity College, Dublin, Samuel Beckett Collection.

20 In Malone dies the relationship is only a fantasy: Malone imagines that his pencil is a little girl (an interesting comparison in the light of the pen/voice’ relationship in Enough—as an artist the ‘little girl’ has, in turn, become both pen and voice to herself); he even imagines capturing one ‘she would undress before me, sleep beside me, have nobody but me . . .’ (273).

21 Brian Finney, Since ‘How it is’ (Covent Garden Press Ltd., 1972), 27-8.

22 John J. Mood states that there is no problem in the French edition as to the sexual identity of the narrator—‘Naturally, in French this ambiguity does not exist because of the pronominal inflections of that language’ (387). But in subsequent editions Beckett removed these obvious indications.

23 C.G. Jung, ‘Freud and Jung: Contrasts’ in Freud and Psychoanalysis, vol. 4, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, trans. A.F.C. Hull (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961), 338-9.

24 Ibid., 340. Compare the Orphic view of ‘Enough’ with the Gnostic one of Malone dies: ‘I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name. Enough for this evening’ (180).

25 Samuel Beckett, Proust, 151.

26 Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of influence: a theory of poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) 107.

27 Ibid., 79.

28 Samuel Beckett, ‘Draff,’ 176.

29 Richard Cody, The Landscape of the mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 12.

30 William Empson, Some Versions of Pastoral (London: Chatto and Windus, 1935). See especially chapter two ‘Double plots: Heroic and Pastoral in Main Plot and Sub-Plot.’ The pastoral loses any heroic connections in Malone Dies. The story of Big Lambert and his ‘family romance’ brings the pastoral elements into the ironic phase of the ‘realistic. The ‘brave company’ led by Lemuel seek ‘heroic’ values that can lie only outside all social categories. The same tendency is evident in Texts for nothing: ‘And I may well have spent one half of my life in the prisons of their Arcady’ (Text 9, 116).

31 Samuel Beckett, How it is (New York: Grove Press, 1964), 29-31.

32 For some inexplicable reason Barbara Hardy in art. cit. 127, says there are no flowers in the mud of How it is. This is patently false. The ‘I’ matter of factly states that there are the ‘usual flowers’ (95). The key question with regard to flowers in Beckett is: how can the ideal be made one with the real? The ideal appears in the ‘blue flower’ of ‘Assumption’ and ‘the lonely petal of great high bright rose’ in Whoroscope. In Echo’s Bones the two types of flowers, the real and ideal, are not reconciliable—the ‘arctic flowers that do not exist’ of ‘Enueg I.’ The absence of the ideal destroys the real beginning with Watt. When expelled from Knott’s, Watt has lost his bloom, ‘aloft in the flowerhole brooded the remains of a factitious murrey chrysanthemum’ (218). The ‘hortulan beauties’ (223) he passes through can offer scant comfort after the encounter with the ineffable, In Mercier and Camier the ‘arctic flowers’ are only ‘a few pale gleams’ (Calder and Boyars, 1977, 121), forever unobtainable, if unforgettable; in Molloy flowers are presented as false enchantresses in Lousse’s ‘bower of bliss.’ They virtually disappear in The Unnamable—only ‘the thousand flowers of rhetoric’ remain. There is only one reference in Texts for Nothing and it is negative—‘Some times a butterfly comes, all warm from the flowers, how weak it is, and quick dead’ (Text 6, 103). How then can the great burgeoning of ‘Enough’ be explained? The answer lies in the most important flower in Beckett —the narcissus. In Echo’s Bones and Texts for nothing narcissism is presented in a negative manner as a self-love that prevents a larger conception of Eros. But in ‘Enough’ there is a new emphasis on primary narcissism whereby man and nature are integrated. The images of Orpheus and Narcissus are now identified. For a fuller discussion of these ideas see Herbert Marcuse Eros and Civilisation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), Chapter Eight, ‘The Images of Orpheus and Narcissus.’

33 Compare with the ‘violence’ of the opening of From an abandoned work—‘The sky would soon darken and rain fall.’ The ‘oceanic’ sense of harmony with nature is particularly identified with the narrator—s/he has ‘Aquarius hands’ (154), ‘discerned on the horizon a sea’ (157), and describes the flowers as ‘stemless and flush with the ground like water-lilies’ (158).

34 Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of reverie, trans. D. Russell (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971) 141.

35 Samuel Beckett, Watt (Grove Press, 1959) 58.

36 Samuel Beckett, ‘Dante and the Lobster,’ 12.

37 Samuel Beckett, ‘What a misfortune,’ 145.

38 Samuel Beckett, First love in Four novellas (Calder, 1977), 20.

39 These ‘Pythagorean’ elements blend with Orphism (see W.K.C. Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek Religion, 216-20); but are finally of secondary importance to the ‘rites of initiation’ with their ‘balance of flesh and spirit.’

40 In an ironic sense the ‘flowers of rhetoric’ of ‘enough’ enable Beckett to fulfill the stylistic goal of Dream of fair to middling women—to write without style’ (42) in the manner of Malherbe or Racine. A series of puns may have been intended:—Malherbe (literally ‘bad grass,’ a weed), Racine (root).

41 Richard Cody, op. cit., 167.

42 The word ‘enough’ is used at three other points during the text: ‘one pair of gloves was enough’ ‘That was enough for him’ (154), ‘And as if that were not enough . . .’ (158). Compare with Chapter 30 of Proverbs where the question of generations (‘There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother’) leads to the parable of the horseleech’s daughters so important in Murphy:


            There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is        



            The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filied with water; and

            the fire that saith not, It is enough (vv. 15-16).


Throughout Beckett’s work ‘enough’ is used to call a halt to a line of thought that is getting out of control rather than to indicate a balance as in the final use in Enough. For example, the beginning of Text 1: ‘The top, very flat, of a mountain, no, a hill, but so wild, enough’ (75). An amusing exception is Mr. Hackett’s poem ‘To Nelly’ which is prematurely terminated when his listeners mistake the opening word of a stanza, ‘Enough,’ for its conclusion.

43 Samuel Beckett, First love, 30.

44 Samuel Beckett, For to and yet again and other fizzles (London: John Calder, 1977) 46; 64. Engagement with the concrete world is also conveyed in ‘Old Earth’ by the image of the eyes of a vulture. ‘My other’s ravening eyes’ is rendered in French as ‘dans mes yeux grifanes, d’autrui.’