The essays in this book, first published in 1975, suggest how best to approach Beckett, how to read him, how to get closer to the concrete experience offered by this most concrete of writers. It aims to bring out the full diversity of Beckett’s art as dramatist and story-teller. His astonishing flexibility and inventiveness is stressed throughout, either in studies of single novels, or from the whole range of the fiction and stage drama, or from the experiments in other media: the solitary film, the radio plays. Beckett’s bilingualism, one of the strangest aspects of his Proteanism, is examined through a comparison of the French and English texts of some of his stage plays. The emphasis of the essays is literary rather than philosophical: they explore narrative and dramatic processes, the strange partial transitions between them, the fine relations of form and feeling which Beckett aims at through whatever medium he is using, and his humaneness, expressed through the many nuances of his humour. The shorter fiction and the later writings also receive close attention.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Katharine Worth 2. The Satiric Shape of Watt John Chalker 3. ‘The Labours of Poetical Excavation’ Charles Peake 4. Assumption to Lessness: Beckett’s Shorter Fiction Brian Finney 5. Innovation and Continuity in How It Is Victor Sage 6. The Dubious Consolation in Beckett’s Fiction: Art, Love and Nature Barbara Hardy 7. Bilingual Playwright Harry Cockerham 8. Film and the Religion of Art Martin Dodsworth 9. The Space and the Sound in Beckett’s Theatre Katharine Worth