Samuel Beckett’s ‘Le Concentrisme’ and the Modernist Literary Hoax

  • Paul Fagan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature book series (PMEL)


This chapter considers Beckett’s 1930 Trinity College lecture ‘Le Concentrisme’ as a peculiarly modernist engagement with key traditions, works, and topoi of the literary hoax. It aims to historicize diverse strands of hoax writing in order to identify more precisely their distinct influences on ‘Le Concentrisme’ specifically, and on Beckett’s modernist poetics more broadly. The significance of these hoax traditions is their interweaving of key Beckettian concerns with the archive, authorial prestige, canonical authority, and literary afterlife. Thus, the genealogy of the hoax provides Beckett with a site for exploring anew the spectral structure of the archive, the mise en abyme of the self, and the modernist poetics of posthumity. In its attention to these themes, ‘Le Concentrisme’ performs a modernist twist on the classic hoax topos of the falsified posthumous memoir and its proliferating archive, undoing its ostensibly satirical ends through a comic poetics of failure and radical self-negation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Fagan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Salzburg UniversitySalzburgAustria

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