The Beckett Studies Reader
S. E. Gontarski
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"Original, well thought out, and unique contributions to the field of Beckett scholarship."--Brian Finney, University of Southern California
For fifteen years the Journal of Beckett Studies attracted (and maintained the loyalty of) superb Beckett scholars. Because of the journal's irregular publication schedule, however, back issues of the original series are virtually impossible to come by. This collection makes available for the first time in book form those essays of exceptional merit that have never been reprinted.
Samuel Beckett is one of the stellar figures in post-World War II English and European literature. This collection contains fresh perspectives on such fundamental themes in his work as the idea of the "absurd," the Manichean tension of light and dark, and the Cartesian split of mind and body, self and other. Specific essays offer, for instance, an existential reading of the short mime Act Without Words, I; an analysis of the Jungian libido operating in the novel Molloy; a study of Beckett's play with language in the radio play Embers; and a critique of a central question in Beckett studies, his relationship to the philosophical tradition of solipsism.
In 1992, Florida State University made a commitment to regular publication of the JBS in a new series under S. E. Gontarski's editorship. This collection offers important essays from the first phase of the journal (1976-91).
"The Journal of Beckett Studies, The First Fifteen Years: An Introduction," by S. E. Gontarski
"Beckett's Proust," by John Pilling
"'Birth Astride of a Grave': Samuel Beckett's Act without Words I," by S. E. Gontarski
"Belacqua as Artist and Lover: 'What a Misfortune,'" by Jeri L. Kroll
"Watt: Language as Interdiction and Consolation," by Thomas J. Cousineau
"Murphy's Metaphysics," by James Acheson
"Embers: An Interpretation," by Paul Lawley
"The Orphic Mouth in Not I," by Katherine Kelly
"Jung and the Molloy Narrative," by J. D. O'Hara
"Imagination Dead Imagine: The Imagination and Its Context," by James Hansford
"Watt: Music, Tuning, and Tonality," by Heath Lees
"Quoting from Godot: Trends in Contemporary French Theater," by Anne C. Murch
"'Imaginative Transactions' in La Falaise," by James Hansford
"Beckett and the Temptation of Solipsism," by Ileana Marcoulesco
S. E. Gontarski, professor of English at Florida State University, edits the Journal of Beckett Studies and is the author of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days: A Manuscript Study; The Intent of Undoing in Samuel Beckett's Dramatic Texts; On Beckett: Essays and Criticism; and editor of volumes 2 (Endgame) and 4 (The Shorter Plays) of The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett.
subsumption of the figure into the surrounding whiteness and the recognition of this "strange" detail as a sure "trace of life." This assertion of difference between the woman and the ground against which she figures (and of difference between her and her "partner") undermines further the suggestion that the parts are interchangeable, each part doing duty for the whole. The whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts, the imaginary greater than the imaginable; in the same way,
6. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, trans. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1909), 3: 334. 7. Beckett, Watt (New York: Grove Press, 1959). All succeeding references to the novel are to this edition. 8. The appearance of the music in the Addenda is itself tortuous. Some editions present the complete sentence of introduction with the music (Olympia, Grove, and
narrator attempts to create a continuity from which consciousness can become displaced, and at the same time to create a place within which he can discover himself without relinquishing a position outside himself from which point he provides the context of the imaginative enquiry. But there is an important distinction between the discrete images that are yielded by imperfect memory and perception and those "last images" that are provided in the search for an order of the imagination. External
Omission attempts to heal this split, for it is at once an omission of the death of the imaginary world as though that world had never been, 13 and at the same time an omission of the creation of the imagined world as though it were already there. While one omission involves the destruction of what is already absent, the other is the making imaginable of what is already present to thought and awaiting discovery.
greys" that, it is discovered, feature in the imagined world itself. The discovered world, "the rotunda," is "all white in the whiteness." Like the "white on white trace" in How It Is, it is only imaginable in the trace that places figure on ground, but it is developed here as a content within an enveloping context, the adjective adding to the noun. The halfrhyme "till all," however, shows how tenuous is the