Samuel Beckett: Watt
Watt was Beckett’s second novel, actually written in 1945 but not published till 1953, by the Olympia Press in Paris. Watt arrives to take up a position in Mr. Knott’s house. His journey there shows us that, as in Murphy, Beckett is going to mock, albeit mildly, his fellow countrymen, their country ways and their religion. But, once in the house, we are moving more to the Beckett of the later novels as Watt gets embroiled in the complex geography of the house – he cannot find the door and when he finally gets in is unaware of how he did so. When he first arrives, his predecessor is there to welcome him. Beckett then takes us on a grim journey through the entrails of the house as Watt tries to progress further up towards Mr. Knott on the top floor. Gags, anecdotes, metaphysics, sophistry, Kafkaesque (let’s call them Irish-Kafkaesque as they are not as nightmarish as the Austrian) situations, linguistic anecdotes, parodies of the Irish big house novel and a whole cast of comic characters accompany Watt on his journey. Just as Estragon and Vladimir will never get to see Godot, Watt’s journey to Knott is doomed and when he does get there, he is thrown out, his own replacement having already arrived. For now we are in standard Beckett territory – you can’t get there and you can’t get out.
First published 1953 by Olympia Press