Scott McLemee may bite his thumb at Valentin Temkine, the French schoolteacher who claims to have cracked the Godot code, but I think he’s onto something:
Godot, whom Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for, is a Resistance smuggler, who is supposed to smuggle them out of occupied France into the Italian zone. The two of them are Jews on the run who come from Paris’ 11 arrondissement. They are probably waiting to be rescued in the spring of 1943 on the dry, limestone heights of the Southern Alps, somewhere like the Plateau de Valensole.
My French is terrible, but here, roughly, is what Temkine says:
Waiting for Godot is very nearly a fable of the occupation. People sleep in ditches and aren’t surprised to be beaten. A man and his servant, laden with possessions, are in flight from somewhere to somewhere. Everything was different “a million years ago, in the nineties.” And two people are to meet a third whom they know only by a single name, a code-name as it were; they don’t know why they’re to meet him, but it matters. If the assignation fails they’re to try again in 24 hours, meanwhile hanging about as inconspicuously as possible. It takes little insight to recognize details from some tale about Resistance groups[.]
Like I said, my French is terrible … which is why I quoted Hugh Kenner recapitulating the argument he first made in 1973’s A Reader’s Guide to Samuel Beckett. Few understand the compulsion to “make it new” better than Kenner—his best work embodies the ethos it describes—but enlivening moribund themes, forms or arguments entails more than mere repetition.
Because, as we all know, repetition breeds zombies. (The unenlivened dead arise, chase away the interlopers and hold mandatory office hours, &c.) Grouse away about Google eating brains, it should have a beneficial effect on the duplication of scholarly arguments. See?
[I planned on writing about someone declaring they can prove Homer was a woman, complete with links to Samuel Butler's The Authoress of the Odyssey (1897), but it turns out someone has already staked claim on my insufficiently absurd example. I'm not sure whether I feel chastened or depressed, but I do know that I don't know how to finish this post now. I should just stop. I can't go on. I'll go on. Or not.]