AN INTERPRETIVE DIALOGUE: Beckett's "First Love" and Bakhtin's Categories of Meaning

in Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
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From the very first sentence of "First Love", Beckett's narrator-protagonist engages the reader in an aggressive, one-sided dialogue. We might respond by bringing the voice of the narrator, and Beckett's narrative in general, into contact with the major theorizer of dialogue, Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin's categories of genre suggest that Beckett's story may share strategic affinities with the menippea, while his concept of chronotope helps to clarify some of the contradictory details in the text. It is the idea of dialogue, however, with its implied surrender of power to the other that dominates the text and obsesses the narrator. In illuminating the narrator's resistance to, and regretful acknowledgement of his dialogic position in the worId, Bakhtin's words respond to and renew Beckett's.

Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

A Bilingual Review / Revue Bilingue

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