This essay considers the lobster of Samuel Beckett’s early story “Dante and the Lobster” as what disturbs the count. Assumed to be dead, only to then be revealed alive when it is about to enter the cooking pot, the lobster here is an “incalculable factor” that unsettles narrative consciousness and time. The author reads various aspects of this disturbance, and particularly how the lobster’s “nervous [. . .] life” as encrypted in two small terms of the story—“cruel pot” and “neuter creature”—emerges as an early inscription of a trapped or unvoicable “I” foretelling the self’s dispossession in Beckett’s later writings.
Bating the Lobster
thangam ravindranathan is an associate professor of French studies at Brown University. She is the author of Là où je ne suis pas: Récits de dévoyage (Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2012) and coauthor, with Antoine Traisnel, of Donner le change: L’impensé animal (Hermann, 2016). She is currently completing a book titled “Animals Passing” (or maybe “Animals Missing”).
Thangam Ravindranathan; Bating the Lobster. differences 1 May 2017; 28 (1): 64–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3821700
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