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

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

Abstract

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.

References

  1. ———. 2008. ‘The Last Ditch’: Shades of Swift in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Fingal’. Eighteenth-Century Life 32 (2): 60–67.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2009. Afterword: Samuel Beckett’s Cemeteries. In Beckett and Death, ed. Steven Barfield, Matthew Feldman, and Philip Tew, 206–222. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  3. Armstrong, Tim. 2005. Modernism: A Cultural History. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  4. Attridge, John. 2014. Mythomaniac Modernism: Lying and Bullshit in Flann O’Brien. In Flann O’Brien & Modernism, ed. Julian Murphet, Rónán McDonald, and Sascha Morrell, 27–40. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  5. Baines, Paul. 1999. The House of Forgery in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  6. Bair, Deirdre. 1978. Samuel Beckett: A Biography. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  7. Baring, Edward. 2011. The Young Derrida and French Philosophy, 1945–1968. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borg, Ruben. 2012. Putting the Impossible to Work: Beckettian Afterlife and the Posthuman Future of Humanity. Journal of Modern Literature 35 (4): 163–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. ———. 2017. Reading Flann with Paul: Modernism and the Trope of Conversion. In Flann O’Brien: Problems with Authority, ed. Ruben Borg, Paul Fagan, and John McCourt, 219–229. Cork: Cork University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Churchill, Suzanne W. 2005. The Lying Game: Others and the Great Spectra Hoax of 1917. American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography 15 (1): 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ———. 2001. A Beckett Canon. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cronin, Anthony. 1996. Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist. London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  13. Cross, Samuel. 2013. Malone Lies: Veracity and Morality in Malone Dies. In Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, ed. John Attridge and Rod Rosenquist, 135–146. Surrey and Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  14. Crowley, Ronan. 2017. Phwat’s in a nam?: Brian O’Nolan as a Late Revivalist. In Flann O’Brien: Problems with Authority, ed. Ruben Borg, Paul Fagan, and John McCourt, 119–135. Cork: Cork University Press.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1998. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Diepeveen, Leonard. 2003. The Difficulties of Modernism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2014. Mock Modernism: An Anthology of Parodies, Travesties, Frauds, 1910–1935. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dunne, Fergus. 2012. The Politics of Translation in Francis Sylvester Mahony’s ‘The Rogueries of Thomas Moore’. European Romantic Review 23 (4): 453–474.Google Scholar
  19. Esslin, Martin. 1967. Is It All Gloom and Doom? New York Times, September 24, p. D3.Google Scholar
  20. Fletcher, John. 1962. Samuel Beckett et Jonathan Swift: vers une étude comparée. Littératures X: Annales de la Faculté des Lettres de Toulouse 11: 81–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gibson, Andrew. 2010. Samuel Beckett. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  22. Grafton, Anthony. 1990. Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Groom, Nick. 2002. The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature. London: Picador.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2007. Romanticism and Forgery. Literature Compass 4 (6): 1625–1649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haywood, Ian. 1986. The Making of History: A Study of the Literary Forgeries of James Macpherson and Thomas Chatterton in Relation to Eighteenth-Century Ideas of History and Fiction. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 1987. Faking It: Art and the Politics of Forgery. Brighton: Harvester.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 1984. The Art of Fiction. In Henry James Literary Criticism, Volume 1: Essays on Literature, American Writers, English Writers, ed. Leon Edel and Mark Wilson, 44–65. New York, NY: Library of America.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 1957. Letters of James Joyce, vol. I. Ed. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kenner, Hugh. 1962. Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett: The Stoic Comedians. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 1996b. Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lloyd, David. 1987. Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  32. Mercier, Vivian. 1962. The Irish Comic Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  33. Morin, Emilie. 2014. Odds, Ends, Beginnings: Samuel Beckett and Theatre Cultures in 1930s Dublin. In The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts, ed. S.E. Gontarski, 209–221. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  34. O’Leary, Timothy. 2009. Foucault and Fiction: The Experience Book. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  35. Pilling, John. 1997. Beckett Before Godot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. ———. 2011a. ‘Le Concentrisme’ and ‘Jean du Chas’: Two Extracts. Modernism/Modernity 18 (4): 881–886.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 2011b. Samuel Beckett’s ‘More Pricks Than Kicks’: In a Strait of Two Wills. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  38. Rabaté, Jean-Michel. 1996. The Ghosts of Modernity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  39. Richardson, Brian. 2001. Denarration in Fiction: Erasing the Story in Beckett and Others. Narrative 9 (2): 168–175.Google Scholar
  40. Rumbold, Valerie. 2010. Burying the Fanatic Partridge: Swift’s Holy Week Hoax. In Politics and Literature in the Age of Swift: English and Irish Perspectives, ed. Claude Rawson, 81–115. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Ruthven, K.K. 2001. Faking Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Salisbury, Laura. 2012. Samuel Beckett: Laughing Matters, Comic Timing. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Schneider, Alan. 1993. Waiting for Beckett. In Critical Essays on Samuel Beckett, ed. Lance St John Butler, 69–83. Aldershot: Scolar Press.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, Frederik N. 1974. The Epistemology of Fictional Failure: Swift’s Tale of a Tub and Beckett’s Watt. Texas Studies in Literature and Language 15 (4): 649–672.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 2002. Beckett’s Eighteenth Century. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Smyth, John Vignaux. 2002. The Habit of Lying: Sacrificial Studies in Literature, Philosophy, and Fashion Theory. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steiner, George. 1989. Real Presences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. ———. 2001. A Man of Many Parts. Review of The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa. The Guardian, June 3. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/jun/03/poetry.features1
  49. Stephan, Philip. 1974. Paul Verlaine and the Decadence, 1882–1890. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Stewart, Susan. 1994. Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Swift, Jonathan. 1735a. The Works of J. S, D. D, D. S. P. D. in Four Volumes, Volume I: Containing the Author’s Miscellanies in Prose. Dublin: George Faulkner.Google Scholar
  52. ———. 1735b. The Works of J. S, D. D, D. S. P. D. in Four Volumes, Volume III: Containing Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. Dublin: George Faulkner.Google Scholar
  53. Tindall, William York. 1964. Samuel Beckett. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Zeleny, Michael. 2006. Happy Centenary, Samuel—Larvatus Prodeo. English translation of ‘Le Concentrisme’. Larvatus Livejournal. http://larvatus.livejournal.com/68681.html
  55. Valéry, Paul. 1938. Variety: Second Series. Trans. William A. Bradley. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations