Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.
—Samuel Beckett, from The Unnameable
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
Beckett’s trilogy of strange experimental novels ends with this mysterious run-on sentence, with an unnamed character wondering if his story is done. The sentence, like all of Beckett’s writings, does not offer us any concrete clarity. Is he dead now, but still thinking? Is this hell? Is death the beginning of his story? Is it possible for us to ever understand or derive meaning from our lives? It’s not a sentence that gives us an ending. Instead, it drags us in a downward spiral from apprehension, confusion, and despair to the end rhythm, that life itself is stronger than us and stronger than our endless sweep of monotonous, gloomy thoughts, but always there is a tiny hope in something beyond our comprehension, perhaps – “you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
—Emer Martin is the author of, most recently, Baby Zero>