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Abstract

Despite — or maybe because of — the insisting preoccupation with silence in Beckett’s work, it is a state that seems hard to reach. Noise is continuously interfering in one way or another. Introducing the notion of the ‘dramaturgical oxymoron’ that opens up a gap between two different modes of narration, this essay will argue that Beckett’s plays demonstrate the impossibility of ultimate silence, which lies outside the symbolic order. In this sense these background noises are similar to other disruptive signs, such as the scratch, which is a recurring motif in Beckett. What may seem a mere detail in Krapp’s Last Tape, a scratch on the girl’s thigh, inflicted by picking gooseberries, serves as a metaphor for the loss of completeness and one’s alienation from the world. In the voice, finally, the character is disembodied, virtualised. Existing of nothing but thin air, in Mouth’s ‘own’ words in Not I, the voice does not seem to belong to the body and gives rise to the alienating effect of what Derrida calls s’entendre parler. Although the French deconstructionist has never written on Beckett, his writings on the primacy of the voice and the opposing stance he distinguishes in Artaud probably say as much about Beckett.

In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: The Locus of Tragedy
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett uses ‘voice’ as a prism to investigate Samuel Beckett’s work across a range of texts, genres, and performance cultures. Twenty-one contributors, all members of the Samuel Beckett Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research, discuss the musicality of Beckett’s voices, the voice as ‘absent other’, the voices of the vulnerable, the cinematic voice, and enacted voices in performance and media. The volume engages not only with Beckett’s history and legacy, but also with many of the central theoretical issues in theatre studies as a whole. Featuring testimonies from Beckett practitioners as well as emerging and established scholars, it is emblematic of the thriving and diverse community that is twenty-first century Beckett Studies.

Contributors: Svetlana Antropova, Linda Ben-Zvi, Jonathan Bignell, Llewellyn Brown, Julie Campbell, Thirthankar Chakraborty, Laurens De Vos, Everett C. Frost, S. E. Gontarski, Mariko Hori Tanaka, Nicholas E. Johnson, Kumiko Kiuchi, Anna McMullan, Melissa Nolan, Cathal Quinn, Arthur Rose, Teresa Rosell Nicolás, Jürgen Siess, Anna Sigg, Yoshiko Takebe, Michiko Tsushima