Dialogue on the Threshold

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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thibault


Mais bientôt les bizarreries s’accusèrent davantage, et il devenait parfois difficile de les excuser, car elles sortaient du domaine de la pensée pour entrer dans le domaine de l’action. Des soins éclairés devinrent nécessaires, à la grande indignation de Gérard [de Nerval], car il ne concevait pas que des médecins s’occupassent de lui parce qu’il s’était promené dans le Palais-Royal, traînant un homard en vie au bout d’une faveur bleue. « En quoi, disait-il, un homard est-il plus ridicule qu’un chien, qu’un chat, qu’une gazelle, qu’un lion ou toute autre bête dont on se fait suivre? J’ai le goût des homards, qui sont tranquilles, sérieux, savent les secrets de la mer, n’aboient pas et n’avalent pas la monade des gens comme les chiens, si antipathiques à Goethe lequel pourtant n’était pas fou. » Et mille autre raisons plus ingénieuses les unes que les autres.

Théophile Gautier, Portraits et souvenirs littéraires, G. Charpentier, Paris, 1881, p. 40



Then, suddenly aware of her hideous equipment: "What are you going to do?" he cried.

"Boil the beast," she said, "what else?"

"But it's not dead" protested Belacqua "you can't boil it like that."

She looked at him in astonishment. Had he taken leave of his senses?

"Have sense" she said sharply, "lobsters are always boiled alive. They must be." She caught up the lobster and laid it on its back. It trembled. "They feel nothing" she said.

In the depths of the sea it had crept into the cruel pot. For hours, in the midst of its enemies, it had breathed secretly. It had survived the Frenchwoman's cat and his witless clutch. Now it was going alive into scalding water. It had to. Take into the air my quiet breath.

Belacqua looked at the old parchment of her face, grey in the dim kitchen.

"You make a fuss" she said angrily "and upset me and then lash into it for your dinner."

She lifted the lobster clear of the table. It had about thirty seconds to live.

Well, thought Belacqua, it's a quick death, God help us all.

It is not.

Samuel Becket, "Dante and the Lobster", More Pricks Than Kicks (1934), The Grove Centenary Edition, Vol. 4, Poems, Short Fiction, Criticism, ed. Paul Auster, Grove Press, New York, 2006, pp. 87-88.

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