Advertisement

How Beckett Has Modified Modernism: From Beckett to Blanchot and Bataille

  • Jean-Michel Rabaté
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature book series (PMEL)

Abstract

Asking ‘How Beckett has modified modernism’ presupposes a definition of modernism and agency facing a critical consensus. Unlike the ‘historical’ avant-gardes, modernism as a category was applied retroactively to a preceding corpus. One often hears that modernism culminated in 1922, which situates Beckett as a belated ‘late modernist’. I would suggest a longer periodicity for modernism and see it continue after 1950. It would be represented by writers like Beckett and Coetzee and by theoreticians like Adorno, Greenberg, Bataille, Derrida, or Deleuze. Such a ‘late-late’ modernism will retroactively impact our current definitions of ‘high modernism’. Beckett contributed to this ongoing re-evaluation by transforming a few Proustian and Joycean premises. This essay focuses on Joyce’s later work and analyses how Beckett took over from Joyce a concept of the ‘posthuman’ that he deployed in The Unnamable. It requires to be interpreted with the help of the theories of the philosophers quoted above.

References

  1. ———. 2006. Philosophy of New Music. Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bataille, Georges. 2004. Romans et récits. Ed. Jean-Francois Louette. Paris: Gallimard, Pléiade.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1953. L’Innommable. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.Google Scholar
  4. Bonnefoy, Yves. 1973. Arthur Rimbaud. Trans. Paul Schmidt. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  5. Borges, Jorge Luis. 1999. Kafka and His Precursors. In Selected Non-Fictions. Ed. and Trans. Eliot Weinberger, 363–365. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2004. Anti-Œdipus. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. London and New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 1992. Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Eliot, T.S. 1920. The Sacred Wood. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  9. Greenberg, Clement. 1993. The Collected Essays and Criticism, Volume 4: Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957–1969. Ed. John O’Brian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Joyce, James. 1939. Finnegans Wake. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1957. Letters of James Joyce, vol. I. Ed. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  12. Knowlson, James. 1996a. Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  13. McMillan, Dougald. 1976. Transition: The History of a Literary Era, 1927–1938. New York: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  14. Miller, Tyrus. 1999. Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts Between the World Wars. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2016b. Think, Pig! Beckett at the Limit of the Human. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Rimbaud, Arthur. 1986. Collected Poems. Trans. Oliver Bernard. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 1998. No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider. Ed. Maurice Harmon. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Carey, John. 1992. The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880–1939. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  19. Cohn, Ruby. 1967. Casebook on Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Michel Rabaté
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations