Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Beckett and Europe: Poesis, Legibility, History

Feinberg, Jonathan S. (2012) Beckett and Europe: Poesis, Legibility, History. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (787kB) | Preview


Samuel Beckett’s works are characterized by a pervasive sense of lateness—of having arrived after the peak of European civilization, with no choice but to work with outdated materials—that informs the works’ challenging formal qualities and defines their historical consciousness with regard to the crisis of Europe in the twentieth century. The mutual and reciprocal articulation of this sense of lateness and the works’ radical formal, aesthetic, and even technological experimentation yields an instance of what Edward W. Said has called “late style:” works characterized by an historical untimeliness that is expressed formally. Close readings of the prose fiction reveal a generative, essayistic literary practice that relentlessly assays habitual or conventional literary forms and consistently refuses closure or culmination as only another example of these conventions. This essayistic procedure and its gesture of refusal—the mark of Beckett’s famous “fidelity to failure”—leave traces of the literary forms and conventions that the work has tried on and abandoned as obsolete. Within these traces, an image of Europe emerges—in the moment of its obsolescence—from the vestiges of forms of intelligibility that no longer communicate or have outlasted their use. “Europe,” in this reading, does not stand outside the work as the “context” that renders the work legible to and available for interpretation; rather, it emerges vestigially and in retrospect, as the detritus that the essayistic process of testing and experimentation leaves behind as it searches for new forms of intelligibility that will inaugurate new beginnings. Beckett’s career-long practice of self-translation contributes to this essayistic process by staking out a critical position between languages from which to test the limits and possibilities of each, while his experimentation with new technologies and media in his dramatic works seeks non-literary, non-linguistic poetic means in the wake of literature’s dominance as the bearer of culture.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Feinberg, Jonathan S.jof1@pitt.eduJOF1
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMacCabe, Colinmaccabe@pitt.eduMACCABE
Committee MemberLandy, Marciamlandy@pitt.eduMLANDY
Committee MemberScott, Williamwdscott@pitt.eduWDSCOTT
Committee MemberMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Date: 15 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 April 2012
Approval Date: 15 June 2012
Submission Date: 12 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 191
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Beckett, Europe, History, Literature, Translation, Technology
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2012 20:13
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item