A “healthy honest-to-God out-of-the-door life-loving deflowering”

The (Self-)Censorship of Beckett’s Radio Drama on the BBC Third Programme

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
Pim Verhulst University of Antwerp Belgium Antwerp

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This article analyzes Beckett’s radio plays Embers and Words and Music in the context of the BBC Third Programme and its cultural politics, to argue that they engage with the censorship of his work, especially when it comes to sexual matters, in hitherto unexplored ways. While Embers both challenges and eludes censorship by means of ambiguous or abstract phrasing, Words and Music builds on this strategy and thematizes self-censorship through music. This connects Beckett’s radio plays from the 1950s and 1960s to earlier works from the 1930s like Murphy and Dream of Fair to Middling Women, widening the censorship debate.

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