written in English following manynyears of his composing in French, hisnadopted language. The decision to revertnto English was a kind of inspiration.nAccording to Deirdre Bair’s biographynof Beckett, he was blockednagainst writing prose at the time (1958)nand “plagued” by multiple ailmentsnand illnesses. He conceived of Krappnafter meeting the Irish actor PatricknMagee, who had previously recordednBeckett’s radio play All That Fall fornthe BBC. As Bair tells it, “Beckett toldnMagee that he was astonished when henfirst heard him speak because Magee’snvoice was the one which he heardninside his mind.”nSuch circumstances help to accountnfor what was written. Since it traffics innone figure, Krapp is quintessentialnBeckett. For Beckett is the epitome ofnthe solipsist, too busy doubting hisnown existence to begin to imagine thenexistence of others. Krapp’s Last Tapenis a breakthrough for Beckett, since itnis both a monologue and a drama. Ifnthe dramatic interaction is between ancharacter and his previous self, there isninteraction nevertheless. Beckett’snconception of the tape recorder as antheatrical contrivance ingeniouslynahowed him the opportunity to retainninteraction, without which there cannbe no drama, while it also adhered tonthe integrity of his depiction of mannalone. Krapp marks a turning point,nafter which Beckett will increasinglynevoke the sense of the last or the firstn(i.e., the only) person alive.nKrapp is posed as an ailing mannwho, when we meet him on his 69thnbirthday, is about to record a fresh tapenin his ongoing oral diary. The conflictnin the 50-minute play emerges whennhe gets sidetracked from his mission bynlistening to “Box three, spool five,” ornan entry he recorded when he was 39.nHe locates the desired tape (“The littienscoundrel … the littie rascal”), andnwe hear along with him his reflectionsnand impressions made when he was 30nyears younger, from specific descriptionsn(“a girl in a shabby green coat onna railway-station platform”) to generalnmusings (“the things worth havingnwhen all the dust . . . when all myndust has settied”). Krapp the elder isnnoticeably impatient with his younger,nmore hopeful and vital self When henisn’t demeaning himself (” . . . thatnstupid bastard I took myself for thirtynyears ago”), he’s interrupting the flownof the tape by stopping the machinenand fast-forwarding ahead.nIn what amounts to perhaps thenmost telling conceit in all of Beckett’snwork, Beckett has Krapp spitefully cutnhimself short just as he is about tonshare his most important revelationnwith himself and with us: “The visionnat last. This I fancy is what I havenchiefly to record this evening, againstnthe day when my work will be donenand perhaps no place left in my memory,nwarm or cold, for the miracle . . .nfor the fire that set it alight. What Insuddenly saw then was that, that thenbelief I had been going on afl my life,nnamely …” At that instant Krappninterrupts the tape, and we’re neverntold what “that memorable night innMarch, at the end of the jetty, in thenhowling wind, never to be forgotten.nLnTitlenwhen suddenly I saw the whole thing”nconsisted of for the younger Krapp.nBut the point—that there is nonpoint—made so swiftly yet emphaticallynhere by Beckett, was made timenand again since: by Kurt Vonnegut innThe Sirens of Titan, which reduces thenpurpose of mankind to conveying anmessage that “The part is on the way”nto some extraterrestrial species thatnneeds to repair its intergallactic spacecraft;nby Stanley Kubrick, who dismissesncivilization before “2001” in onenfell swoop, so to speak, as a prehumannape hurls a bone into the sky and itnbecomes an interplanetary ship innwhat is still for us the future; by Updike,nwho, in the Foreword to his ownnBech: A Book, was compelled to say,n”Already the contents of a book countnas littie as the contents of a breakfastncereal box.”nGreat Topics, Great Issues!nCatch up on the CHRONICLESnyou’ve missed by orderingnfrom the following collectionnof recent back issues.nn Popular Wisdom Steven Goldberg on the truth in stereotypes andnThomas Molnar on the anatomy of cliches. $2.50nD Personal Fireworks: Modern Times/Modern ArtnJohn Aldridge on the novel and the imperial self; John Sisk on drugs,ncensorship, and Hollywood; Janet Barlow on the Bob Greeneing ofnAmerica; and Andrei Navrozov on the art of Colleen Browning. $2.50nn The Tower of Babel: The American Nation in an International WorldnSamuel Francis and Thomas Reeves on the McCarthy legacy; InganKaretnikova and Igor Golomstock on Big Brother’s portraits. $2.00nn The Spiral Staircase: Evolution and MannEdward O. Wilson on genetic determinism and morality;nStanley Jaki on the mdral legacy of Darwin. $2.00nn Amber Waves of Grain Fred Chappeli on the poet and the plowman;nAndrei Navrozov on artijt Igor Galanin. $2.00nn Sexual Politicking Thomas Fleming on old Adam, new Eve; GeorgenGilder on dames, defense.^and democracy; Carol McMillan onnmothers and others. $2.00nn A House Divided Admiral James Stockdale on POW ethics; RussellnKirk on the perils of ideology $2.00nn Counting the Ways: The World, the Flesh, and the Social SciencesnRobert Nisbet on the uses of tradition; John Shelton Reed on surveynsociology; and Irving Louis Horowitz on the doctors and the bomb. $2.00n*Postage and handling included in issue price.nName Address _nTotal Amount Due: *nCity_ .State. _Zip_nQty. Amt.nChronicles • 934 North Main Street • Rockford, IL • 61103 CBI487nnnJnAPRIL 1987/49n