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“Occasional extinction or more likely occultation”

Form and Source in “Long Observation of the Ray”

William Davies


This article analyses Samuel Beckett’s unpublished prose piece “Long Observation of the Ray” (UoR MS 2909; 1975–1976) and considers the formal, thematic, and intertextual aspects of the text in order to reflect on its ‘abandoned’ status. By drawing attention to possible sources for the linguistic and descriptive choices that Beckett makes throughout the manuscript, the article argues that the text represents a partial return to the author’s abiding interest in calculations of light and distance first prompted by his study of astronomy, a return which he uses to further his experimentation with form and structure in “Long Observation of the Ray” and beyond.