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Thread: A Question from "The End" by Samuel Beckett

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    A Question from "The End" by Samuel Beckett

    Hi,

    I was wondering what the phrase "showing the stars and the distaff" means in the following paragraph:

    "Once on the road it was all downhill. Soon there were carts, but they all refused to take me up. In other clothes, with another face, they might have taken me up. I must have changed since my expulsion from the basement. The face notably seemed to have attained its climacteric. The humble, ingenuous smile would no longer come, nor the expression of candid misery, showing the stars and the distaff. I summoned them, but they would not come.”

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    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    It's been a decade or more since I last read Beckett, his novels as well as his better-known plays. I don't recall getting around to his short stories, such as the "The End." Just now I plugged the phrase into the Google® machine and ended up -- as they like to say on the cable news shows -- "down the rabbit hole." Judging from the context, I can only guess. It seems as if the narrator is trying to elicit some help for a possible injury(?), but neither a simpering smile or flat-out suffering —"candid misery" — evidently does the trick "to show"? his hoped for rescuers? The "stars" and the "distaff" (a spindle) seem like elements of some kind of insignia or logo -- on transport vehicles (such as a train or bus) or ambulances or even -- remember, this is Beckett -- badges of law enforcement personnel. Just a conjecture on my part.

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    Registered User katiewebber's Avatar
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    I have been recommended to this book by many of my friends, I really want to read it.

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    Registered User EmptySeraph's Avatar
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    It is a syntagm for the malformations of one's countenance due to the accumulation of wrinkles, to which you can add the manifestation of rictus. Here it describes a face not unlike Beckett's own in his later years.
    Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmptySeraph View Post
    It is a syntagm for the malformations of one's countenance due to the accumulation of wrinkles, to which you can add the manifestation of rictus. Here it describes a face not unlike Beckett's own in his later years.
    Thank you very much!

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