Stories and Texts for Nothing

BOOK: Stories and Texts for Nothing
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Works by Samuel Beckett published by Grove Press

C
OLLECTED
P
OEMS IN
E
NGLISH AND
F
RENCH

C
OLLECTED
S
HORTER
P
LAYS

(All That Fall, Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II, Krapp's Last Tape, Rough for Theatre I, Rough For Theatre II, Embers, Rough for Radio I, Rough for Radio II, Words and Music, Cascando, Play, Film, The Old Tune, Come and Go, Eh Joe, Breath, Not I, That Time, Footfalls, Ghost Trio, … but the clouds …, A Piece of Monologue, Rockaby, Ohio Impromptu, Quad, Catastrophe, Nacht and Träume, What Where)

C
OMPLETE
S
HORT
P
ROSE
: 1929–1989

(Assumption, Sedendo et Quiescendo, Text, A Case in a Thousand, First Love, The Expelled, The Calmative, The End, Texts for Nothing 1–13, From an Abandoned Work, The Image, All Strange Away, Imagination Dead Imagine, Enough, Ping, Lessness, The Lost Ones, Fizzles 1–8, Heard in the Dark 1, Heard in the Dark 2, One Evening, As the story was told, The Cliff, neither, Stirrings Still, Variations on a “Still” Point,
Faux Départs
, The Capital of the Ruins)

D
ISJECTA:

Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment

E
NDGAME AND
A
CT
W
ITHOUT
W
ORDS

H
APPY
D
AYS

H
ow
I
T
I
S

I C
AN'T
G
O
O
N
, I'
LL
G
O
O
N
:

A Samuel Beckett Reader

K
RAPP'S
L
AST
T
APE
(All That Fall, Embers, Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II)

M
ERCIER AND
C
AMIER

M
OLLOY

M
ORE
P
RICKS THAN
K
ICKS

(Dante and the Lobster, Fingal, Ding-Dong, A Wet Night, Love and Lethe, Walking Out What a Misfortune, The Smeraldina's Billet Doux, Yellow, Draff)

M
URPHY

N
OHOW
O
N
(Company, III Seen III Said, Worstward Ho)

P
ROUST

S
TORIES AND
T
EXTS FOR
N
OTHING

(The Expelled, The Calmative, The End, Texts for Nothing 1–13)

T
HREE
N
OVELS
(Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable)

W
AITING
F
OR
G
ODOT

W
ATT

H
APPY
D
AYS
:

Production Notebooks

W
AITING FOR
G
ODOT
:

Theatrical Notebooks

Copyright © 1967 by Samuel Beckett

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York. NY 10003 or
[email protected]
.

Published simultaneously in Canada

Printed in the United States of America

Originally published as
Nouvelles et textes pour rien
, copyright © 1958 Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, France.

The drawings by Avigdor Arikha appeared in the original French edition.

“The Expelled,” “The End,” and “Texts for Nothing l” originally appeared in
Evergreen Review
.

ISBN 9780802198310

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 67-20341

Grove Press

an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

841 Broadway

New York, NY 10003

Distributed by Publishers Group West

www.groveatlantic.com

10 11 12 13 14 20 19 18 17

CONTENTS

STORIES

The Expelled

The Calmative

The End

TEXTS FOR NOTHING

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

STORIES

THE EXPELLED

There were not many steps. I had counted them a thousand times, both going up and coming down, but the figure has gone from my mind. I have never known whether you should say one with your foot on the sidewalk, two with the following foot on the first step, and so on, or whether the sidewalk shouldn't count. At the top of the steps I fell foul of the same dilemma. In the other direction, I mean from top to bottom, it was the same, the word is not too strong. I did not know where to begin nor where to end, that's the truth of the matter. I arrived therefore at three totally different figures, without ever knowing which of them was right. And when I say that the figure has gone from my mind, I mean that none of the three figures is with me any more, in my mind. It is true that if I were to find, in my mind, where it is certainly to be found, one of these figures, I would find it and it alone, without being able to deduce from it the other two. And even were I to recover two, I would not know the third. No, I would have to find all three, in my mind, in order to know all three. Memories are killing. So you must not think of certain things, of those that are dear to you, or rather you must think of them, for if you don't there is the danger of finding them, in your mind, little by little. That is to say, you must think of them for a while, a good while, every day several times a day, until they sink forever in the mud. That's an order.

After all it is not the number of steps that matters. The important thing to remember is that there were not many, and that I have remembered. Even for the child there were not many, compared to other steps he knew, from seeing them every day, from going up and coming down, and from playing on them at knuckle-bones and other games the very names of which he has forgotten. What must it have been like then for the man I had overgrown into?

The fall was therefore not serious. Even as I fell I heard the door slam, which brought me a little comfort, in the midst of my fall. For that meant they were not pursuing me down into the street, with a stick, to beat me in full view of the passers-by. For if that had been their intention they would not have shut the door, but left it open, so that the persons assembled in the vestibule might enjoy my chastisement and be edified. So, for once, they had confined themselves to throwing me out and no more about it. I had time, before coming to rest in the gutter, to conclude this piece of reasoning.

Under these circumstances nothing compelled me to get up immediately. I rested my elbow on the sidewalk, funny the things you remember, settled my ear in the cup of my hand and began to reflect on my situation, not-withstanding its familiarity. But the sound, fainter but unmistakable, of the door slammed again, roused me from my reverie, in which already a whole landscape was taking form, charming with hawthorn and wild roses, most dreamlike, and made me look up in alarm, my hands flat on the sidewalk and my legs braced for flight. But it was merely my hat sailing towards me through the air, rotating as it came. I caught it and put it on. They were most correct, according to their god.
They could have kept this hat, but it was not theirs, it was mine, so they gave it back to me. But the spell was broken.

How describe this hat? And why? When my head had attained I shall not say its definitive but its maximum dimensions, my father said to me, Come, son, we are going to buy your hat, as though it had pre-existed from time immemorial in a pre-established place. He went straight to the hat. I personally had no say in the matter, nor had the hatter. I have often wondered if my father's purpose was not to humiliate me, if he was not jealous of me who was young and handsome, fresh at least, while he was already old and all bloated and purple. It was forbidden me, from that day forth, to go out bareheaded, my pretty brown hair blowing in the wind. Sometimes, in a secluded street, I took it off and held it in my hand, but trembling. I was required to brush it morning and evening. Boys my age with whom, in spite of everything, I was obliged to mix occasionally, mocked me. But I said to myself, It is not really the hat, they simply make merry at the hat because it is a little more glaring than the rest, for they have no finesse. I have always been amazed at my contemporaries' lack of finesse, I whose soul writhed from morning to night, in the mere quest of itself. But perhaps they were simply being kind, like those who make game of the hunchback's big nose. When my father died I could have got rid of this hat, there was nothing more to prevent me, but not I. But how describe it? Some other time, some other time.

BOOK: Stories and Texts for Nothing
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