Cybernetic Syntax

Beckett’s “Rhythm of Doubt” in J.M. Coetzee’s Early Novels

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui
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  • 1 University of Cambridge

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Abstract

This article unfolds what J.M. Coetzee terms “the rhythm of doubt” in Watt—a procedure that parallels cybernetic ideas about feedback and control. A careful reading of Coetzee’s doctoral dissertation, a stylostatistic analysis of Beckett’s English fiction, reveals what the young scholar and novelist labels the syntax of “A against B,” which he puts to use in his early novels. The rhythm of doubt ultimately takes on a political slant in these works, as it becomes associated with (potentially) violent actions performed in the service of perceived rationality.

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