since’ (Conrad, 1902/1995: 266). Bearing in mind the myth that blindness constitutes an end of life, it is somewhat paradoxical that these prayers are for death rather than sight. After all, if such an entity exists, God will be no less able to improve or grant vision than to induce death. Perhaps it is for this reason that the deity is less common in the suicidal contemplations that can be found in mid and late twentieth-century novels. In Night Without Stars, for example, Giles Gordon refers to suicide by pondering, ‘Till now it had been just a thought, a threat, a promise with a hint of bravado. Now it leered at me like a challenge to my own integrity and guts. You can’t be so very sorry for yourself if all the time it’s in your own hands to do something about it’ (Graham, 1950/1997: 28). Similarly, in Happiness is Blind, Helen is said to have ‘grown suddenly thoughtful. Her face was tense and her hands clenched hard. This desire in her was ridiculous, suicidal, but it was almost overwhelming’ (Sava, 1987: 187-8). It also proves relevant that the reader of How Late it Was, How Late is informed that Sammy ‘would be as well parking the head in a gas oven’, for although this is a result of the combined loss of love and sight, the latter eventually takes precedence: ‘He couldnay even fucking see man know what I’m talking about, and he still had to listen to them, these fucking bampot bastards. And ye get angrier and angrier, angrier and angrier, till ye feel like ramming yer fist through the fucking kitchen window and with a bit a luck ye’ll slice right through the main artery’ (Kelman, 1995: 29, 119).
The third form of depiction, the act, is by definition the most evident, but that is not to say that it is never ambiguous. Hence, with reference to The Light That Failed, where Dick is said to have persuaded himself that suicide would be a ‘ludicrous insult to the gravity of the situation as well as a weak- kneed confession of fear’ (Kipling, 1891/1988: 170), it has been asserted that, like Oedipus, he ‘rejects suicide’ (Kleege, 1999: 73). However, bearing in mind that ‘the term suicide is applied