This essay examines the nature of Beckett's extensive notes on Goethe's and whether or not Beckett's excerpts can be regarded as part of a literary strategy. The first part will focus on the form of the notes and contrast them with contemporary reading notes by James Joyce. After this comparative genetic investigation, the content of Beckett's notes will be examined to try and assess their importance in the development of his poetics in the second half of the 1930s.
Beckett's last texts can be regarded as a poetical testament, presented 'en fuite' in a similar way as Proust's description of the carafes in the Vivonne. This Proustian idea underpins the concept of an electronic genetic edition of Beckett's last texts. The presentation of Beckett's last texts within the context of their 'avant-textes' emphasizes the importance of the materiality of the manuscripts in Beckett's fugal poetics. The 'becquets' – the signs that Beckett uses in his manuscripts to indicate where he is adding an element to the body of the text – constitute an aspect of his works that emphasizes the importance of the manuscripts as a form of Beckett's presence, which deserves to be studied in counterpoint with the published versions.
The Romantic period is part of what Reinhart Koselleck has called the ('saddle period'), the era that flanks the French Revolution by fifty years on either side. To investigate Beckett's ambiguous attitude towards this period, this essay starts with the Graveyard Poets and concludes with Mary Shelley's "hideous progeny" – as she called in the introduction to the 1831 edition. The essay investigates the relationship between "the modern Prometheus" and his "creature," and the theme of creation as a muddy but central issue in Beckett's works and self-translations.
The notes on the Presocratics, which Samuel Beckett wrote in the 1930s, are interesting and perhaps even paradigmatic for genetic Beckett studies. To examine this presocratic matter, this essay opens with some pre-Beckettian observations. After a short analysis of Beckett's notes on the Presocratics and of their reverberations in his post-war texts, the essay concludes with an examination of the way in which these notes may be of help in making a methodological distinction between source studies and genetic criticism.
As a tribute to Marius Buning, in his capacity as Joyce and Beckett scholar, this article starts from the -shape on the page of the Book of Kells, discussed in Joyce's . This -shape is relevant to Beckett's treatment of the Manichaean separation of light and darkness in . Beckett's notes on this “wild stuff” from the reveal a chiastic “shape of ideas” that mattered to both Joyce and Beckett. But whereas Joyce employed the chiasmus as a stylistic device to mark his characters' epiphanies, Beckett turned it into a structural principle of reversibility.
Insofar as writing can be regarded as a form of thinking, authors' manuscripts may serve as tools for interdisciplinary research in the area between literary studies and cognitive philosophy. This article studies the manuscript versions of Beckett's late texts “Ceiling” and as a case study to analyze the ways in which genetic Beckett studies can contribute to recent “enactivist” developments in cognitive philosophy. In terms of methodology, the article proposes to extend Brian Richardson's concept of “denarration” with a genetic dimension in order to study the way Beckett “decreated” traditional models of the mind and prefigured new ones.
This essay investigates to what extent it is possible with hindsight, on the basis of manuscripts, to reconstruct the cognitive process underlying the textual genesis of a literary work. The case study is Beckett’s novel Molloy and the characterization of Molloy and Moran against the background of Beckett’s reading of André Gide’s Dostoïevsky and Pierre Gustave Brunet’s Curiosités théologiques. The seemingly programmatic Molloy/Moran dichotomy, possibly modelled after Gide’s contrast between Dostoevsky and Balzac, turns out to be the result of an écriture à processus rather than à programme. This case study serves to illustrate how consciousness enactment, combined with an enactivist approach to cognition, can be of help in defining the role of the reader in genetic criticism.
This article investigates to what extent it is possible, not only to digitize a writer’s extant library, but also to reconstruct her or his virtual library. The central question is whether digitizing a writer’s library is not in fact a form of digitizing a library history, and whether this implies the possibility of interdisciplinary collaboration between library history and genetic criticism.