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388 Comparative Drama Frederick Busi. The Transformations of Godot. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1980. Pp. xiii + 143. $12.00. A line in an eighteenth-century bawdy ballad states that “some courtiers promise more than they can do.” The same might be said for some literary critics. Frederick Busi is a case in point. The Transforma­ tions of Godot, Busi says, fills a gap in Beckett scholarship. It does this by telling everything we ever wanted to know—and then some— about the names in the play. He doesn’t specifically say so, but ostensibly Busi’s intention is to clarify some of the more obscure passages in the play and to make the work more accessible (as though accessibility were a problem with Waiting for Godot). The results unfortunately don’t fulfill the promise. Like the courtier in the ballad, Busi promises much but delivers little. To wit, this series of passages: Promise #1: Once Pozzo’s name is carefully examined, his position in Beckett’s dramatic scheme will be made clear (p. 65). Promise #2: Now that the various resonances of the tramps’ and Lucky’s names have been identified, a close examination of Pozzo’s name should reveal how Beckett has nominally and dramatically linked these different elements in the unfolding of character development (p. 66). Promise S3: Only a guided examination of [the contemporary] spiritual background can put the play into perspective as a reflection of contem­ porary malaise. Such an analysis will illuminate Pozzo’s bizarre name (p. 69). Promise #4: What is important here is that [John] Pilling links this line of thought to the biblical myth of Cain and Abel. Its significance will become clearer after analysis of Pozzo’s name and its varied associations (p. 77). After all this, one is breathless to learn just what there is in Pozzo’s name that will answer all these questions. For some twenty-two pages Busi has been putting off his analysis, but finally on page 78 we get the following: The name Pozzo is the Italian word for well or hole, suggesting someone who has emerged from the depths of the earth, from an infernal region. The word also conjures up many other associations. Pozzo suggests puzzo meaning “stench” and posso meaning “I can” or “I am able.” This answers nothing. Even after some silly speculations concerning the relationship of Pozzo and cazzo (penis), we still do not know “. . . how Beckett has nominally and dramatically linked the different elements in the unfolding of character developments.” What we have been given are arcane explorations which shed no light whatsoever on either the mean­ ing of the play or Beckett’s dramaturgy, and one is forced to question the usefulness of such a study. Even the author admits at one point that “these transmogrifications are not apparent on the stage, of course, and they are only dimly perceived in the text.” The question is, then, why bother with them? The author’s intention seems to be to see just how many interesting relationships he can develop by following to the extreme the clues to be found (cognitively, associationally, and subliminally) in the names of the characters. But for what end? If the result were to make clearer some aspect of the work, this intellectual self-indulgence might be toler­ ated. But how much do we learn about Waiting for Godot or about Beckett’s dramaturgy from the following paragraph? Reviews 389 Games and play are invoked here [in the play] to express the inexpressible, to allude indirectly to truths too horrific to be confronted openly. On the literary level it will be shown that the character names perform the same function as these games. This similarity of function is at the heart of Freud’s notions about humor, with special reference to the technique of punning which he regarded as the lowest form of the verbal joke. Thus nonverbal language as gesture and verbal expression as punning stand close together in the play. The transition from one realm to another reinforces the suspicion that the play’s multiple dimensions are in close relationship and harmony. Or this one: In Lucky’s gibberish Connemara could suggest...


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pp. 388-390
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