This study traces the play of thresholds in Beckett’s short text “neither”. Since its publication in 1976, the text has been haunted by its thematic indeterminacy. Originally published as a poem, it was gathered with other pieces of short prose on Beckett’s suggestion when he insisted that it was a short story. The protagonist (though it is too strong a term to be used in the present context) finds themself before the mobile gates of the neitherworld “whose doors once neared gently close/once turned away from gently part again”. Beckett’s text creates a paradigmatic limbo, a non-space tussling with the ghosts of being. The movement is not, as Garin Dowd contends, “from its presence to its absence, from its being to non-being, from its formation to its emptying”; the beingness of being is already reduced to shadows. The reflex of opening and closure, the subject of the text, is further displaced on to the door, effectively quashing the potency of human agency. The door here is the reality of being. The effigy of a person is left stranded on the in-between spaces. This inbetweenness is located on the site of excluded middle—a site considered untenable in the classical logic. Moreover, the study looks at the ontological praxis of this inbetweenness.
Entre Sam et Bram les lignes sont complexes et les couleurs varient. Amis et compagnons, sur des chemins de traverse, ils se rencontrent dans leur conception absolue de l’œuvre d’art. Beckett tente de parler des peintures et y reconnaît (là aussi) un inévitable échec. Bram lit Sam et aime s’y perdre.
This paper focuses on an adaptation of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in the Muslim context of Pakistan. Firstly, it looks at previous performances of the play with female actors. Secondly, it examines why female characters are introduced in the adaptation, which is strikingly opposite to Beckett’s idea of characterization in Waiting for Godot. Thirdly, it explores how such alteration is significant in the context of the Muslim culture of Pakistan. Finally, the play thus adapted for a local audience is read in a political light.
Allusions to gendered violence and sexual assault in Samuel Beckett’s works raise difficult questions in today’s classroom and theatre auditoria. So too does the physical subjugation that Beckett’s female actors often endure on stage. How far might our post-#MeToo sensibilities usefully inform our reading of instances of gendered subjugation and sexualised violence in Beckett’s theatre? This article focuses on Not I as a playtext that combines intimations of sexual assault with a history of female actors suffering physically in performance. It uses the lens of rape play—enacted for therapeutic value within the BDSM community for sexual assault survivors—to read Not I as an embodied trauma narrative, and to open up discussion of forms of coercion and consent in Beckett’s work.
Après avoir interrogé la notion freudienne d’ Unheimlich, je procède à une revue des représentations de La dernière bande après 2000 en tentant de les considérer sous l’ angle de l’ Unheimlich. Une expérience personnelle avec la pièce de Beckett permet d’ introduire mon affect subjectif.
Beckett’s prose, drama, correspondence and working notes contain numerous references to processes that pertain to unconscious, involuntary bodily functionality and materiality. In this respect, the body’s viscera and their processes cannot properly be said to belong to the subject, and yet everything over which we have agential control is premised on these deeper vegetative or physiological processes; thought and feeling, as Molloy puts it, ‘dance their sabbath’ in the ‘caverns’ of the body. If the conception of the ‘human’ is premised on rationality, then the viscera are non-human, object-like. Beckett’s anti-rationalist emphasis on affective, visceral experience in How It Is (along with the novel’s veiled allusions to Pavlov’s conditioning and Watson’s behaviourism) operates in tension with the more elevated intertextual references that signpost the humanist tradition.
This essay reads the ungraspable relation to death in Beckett’s works as a means to think through our contemporary era of climate crisis. Beckett’s singular aesthetics of human finitude can be a powerful resource for thinking the unthinkable. By envisaging finitude in terms of the limits imposed on life by both space and time, this essay seeks to ground the existential framework of Beckett’s oeuvre in terms of an always embedded self. Looking at the short story “The End,” I show how such embeddedness may work to evade totalisation or abstraction in terms of a universal worldview, yet also how it poses problems for any privileging of materiality as such. Beckett’s writings are thereby seen to produce a dynamic ethics between world and earth, the global and the local, life and death.
Avec Fin de partie : scènes et monologues, opéra en un acte, Győrgy Kurtág rend hommage à Beckett : non pas en accompagnant mais en réponse au texte, dont il n’ a été retenu qu’ une partie, la musique et le chant soulignant la recherche profondément beckettienne du silence et de l’ ailleurs. Pour cela Kurtág s’ appuie également sur les résonances créées par le poème “Roundelay,” autre œuvre beckettienne placée en prologue de l’ opéra.
Le présent article examine la façon dont Eleutheria, la première pièce entière que Beckett a écrite, refuse un sentiment d’ humanisme simpliste de l’ après-guerre, grâce à sa manipulation de la relation entre scène et spectateurs supposés. Pour Beckett, le passage au théâtre a indiqué un nouvel engagement plus agressif avec le public français, et Eleutheria implique directement ses spectateurs imaginés, les rendant complices dans le spectacle de la souffrance qui se déroule sous leurs yeux. Cet article s’ oppose aux lectures humanistes d’ Eleutheria, et conteste à la fois le lieu commun critique qui la voit comme étant inhabituellement conventionnelle en termes dramaturgiques, en comparaison avec les autres pièces de Beckett. En effet, Beckett se tourne vers le théâtre comme moyen de souligner l’ aptitude humaine à se désengager de la souffrance d’ autrui.
The topic of ‘Beckett and music’ has gained considerable attention in recent years. In previous work I have argued that music in Beckett’s plays does not, as some have suggested, exist beyond or exceed the ambiguities of body, knowledge and subjectivity that are apparent in other aspects of his work, but rather that its use parallels and reinforces these processes. If this kind of intermediality, involving music, operates already in some of Beckett’s work, how does it manifest when musicians work with or in relation to it? This question is addressed through a discussion of John Tilbury’s version of Worstward Ho, for piano, recorded voice and electronics.