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In: Texts beyond Borders
In: The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship
In: Texts beyond Borders
In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
Author:

Abstract

Samuel Beckett’s radio play Words and Music has drawn radically different responses from composers. However, one in particular – the score written by his cousin, John, for the BBC – is perhaps more instrumental than any other in helping us understand the relationship between Music and Words in the script, owing to the author’s involvement in the collaboration. What I seek to argue on the basis of this production, originally broadcast by the Third Programme on 13 November 1962, in combination with the text as published, is that it parodies program music made to express themes. Additionally, I will attempt to show that, contrary to the usual effect of textual framing, what the radio play achieves is not a narrativization of music, but a “denarrativization” of language, under music’s non-narrative influence. In order to make this point, the chapter will combine a range of methodologies, including genetic criticism and archival research, (audio)narratology, musicology and philosophy. With regard to the latter, I will relate Arthur Schopenhauer’s esthetic theories, typically foregrounded in the critical discourse on Words and Music, to Vladimir Jankélévitch, who was a contemporary of Beckett and considered music as an inexpressive art form while criticizing the German philosopher’s Neoplatonist metaphysics.

Open Access
In: Music and its Narrative Potential
Author:

Abstract

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.

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
Author:

Abstract

This article discusses Sisyphus as a recurrent (philosophical) image in Samuel Beckett’s work. Starting from his prewar reading notes, it moves on to the 1940s and the radio play All That Fall (1956), which is studied in light of Albert Camus’s essays Le Mythe de Sisyphe (1942) and L’ Homme révolté (1951). By focussing on how the radio play deals with the absurd, revolt, suicide and murder, the article reads All That Fall as one of Beckett’s most critical but overlooked engagements with Camus, merging classical and modern versions of the character Sisyphus.

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
Volume Editors: and
This collection offers an in-depth study of music’s narrative functions in radio drama, whether original or adapted, alongside speech and sound. It features a range of historical perspectives as well as case studies from Australia, Europe and North America, highlighting broadcasting institutions such as the BBC, RAI, ABC, WDR and SWR, from early radio to the medium’s postwar golden age and contemporary productions. Not limited to classical or popular music, the chapters also pay attention to electronic varieties and musical uses of language, in addition to intermedial exchanges with other art forms such as theatre, opera and film. In doing so, the present volume sits at the crossroads of various disciplines: musicology, narratology, history, literary, media, sound and radio studies.

Abstract

Despite Beckett’s claim of having a “bee in [his] bonnet” about “mixing media,” intermediality and transmedial adaptation were important sources of innovation for his writing, especially from the 1950s onwards. The present article analyses Play (1964) as a good example of this dynamic by demonstrating (1) how its genesis was influenced by Beckett’s experience with radio, and (2) how its own transmedial history proves that rather than rejecting “mixing media” in principle, Beckett’s ostensible insistence on “keeping our genres distinct” turns out to be an appeal to fully exploit the medium-specific properties of radio, theatre, film and television.

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui