Beckett against the Singular Event
by Florence Sunnen
“This [Derrida’s] notion of the singular literary event appears to be in sharp contrast to the functioning of the (absence of a) unique event in the work of arguably the most “eventless” writer ever: Samuel Beckett. A characteristic feature of Beckett’s project is that of generating a world in which nothing happens: there are no dates, no events, and no places that would pretend to have a character in any way. “[N]o, no dates for pity’s sake.” Anyone familiar with Beckett’s En attendant Godot will have noticed the care with which the author avoids having anything in this play that could be qualified as unique.
Everything that could be qualified as unique (for example, the difference between this evening and the previous one) is dismissed by Estragon’s statement, “I am not a historian.” Estragon’s amnesia makes it impossible to establish any unique points of reference that could contribute to a differentiation of time and/or space. Has the number of leaves on the tree changed? Is the pair of shoes in the second act identical to or different from the pair that Estragon had left there in the first “yesterday”? (Assuming even that he had any shoes, that there was a “yesterday” – detais, of course, that he does not remember.)”
Asja Szafraniec – Beckett, Derrida, and the Event of Literature