Zone of Evaporation: Samuel Beckett's Disjunctions

Zone of Evaporation: Samuel Beckett's Disjunctions

Zone of Evaporation: Samuel Beckett's Disjunctions

Zone of Evaporation: Samuel Beckett's Disjunctions

Synopsis

"From the comic incongruities of Watt to the ontological gaps of The Unnameable, Zone of Evaporation demonstrates the crucial consistent role disjunction played in Beckett's novels. The book describes Beckett's divergence from Proustian metaphor and the revelation of the "real" towards an art which exploited the gaps and fissures within language and narrative and, ultimately, to an art which would go on to upset the post-structuralism of Jacques Derrida."

Excerpt

This volume is not an attempt to explain all of Beckett. Such an enterprise would, appropriately enough, be doomed to fail, for a number of reasons. Although it often seems that anything within Beckett's oeuvre is at once recognisably Beckettian, his works span a huge range not only in terms of time, but in terms of genre, if such a term might be applied to a writer who strained the boundaries of all the forms his work adopted. A truly catholic account of Beckett would have to encompass the poles of the 1927 short story “Assumption” and the final poem, “What is the Word”, of 1989; would have to move from literary criticism, to poetry, to translation, to self-translation, to prose, and then on to the stage, to radio and to television; would have to move from the figure of the precocious amanuensis to that of the Nobel Laureate. Such a project would have to bind all these diverse elements into what is one of the most problematic issues in the works of Beckett: a narrative. The need to understand Beckett in such a way, to account for and then arrange his works according to a pleromatic imperative, is at once demanded and frustrated by these works themselves. Such a narrative would also have to deal with an uncomfortable paradox (with which the present volume is also concerned); work by Beckett is immediately recognisable as a work by Beckett, be it on the stage or in prose, a radio play or a poem, and yet simultaneously there remains the sheer diversity of his output across a range of genres and mediums. Beckett is always different and yet always remains Beckett. It is part of the reason why his works hold such a fascination and, in their paucity, suggest such opportunity.

A further reason for the fascination of Beckett's work can be glimpsed in a comment he made to the director Alan Schneider. Beckett wrote that the text of Endgame had the ability “to claw”. For

Beckett letter to Alan Schneider, June 21 , 1956, No Author Better Served: The Cor
respondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider
, ed. Maurice Harmon, (Cam
bridge Ma. and London: Harvard UP, 1998), 11.

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