Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self

Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self

Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self

Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self

Excerpt

Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self is as much a book about its subtitle as its main title. In fact, the attention to them is almost equally divided. While I do not want to give the impression that Beckett merely serves as a text, his work is so strikingly an example of the "fin de partie" introspection so characteristic of recent literature that a study of him must take it rather elaborately into account.

The idea of this book grew out of an extended study, begun in 1957 and still in process, of the variants of death imagery and symbolism in modern literature. The third division of that book is called simply Self, but it involves elaborate speculations upon the fate of introspection in recent literature. Beckett's novels and plays seemed continuously to occur as the best, the most representative, illustrations of one aspect of that history. I became interested in him not merely because he has recently acquired a reputation, chiefly among theatre-goers--though surely the popular success of Waiting for Godot is a meaningful detail in recent intellectual history. His chief fascination lies in his having exhaustively explored a special variant of the drama of the self.

I have tried to define, in Chapters 1 and 2, the two major metaphors of twentieth-century self-analysis. The first of these is radically assertive of the powerful . . .

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