‘Something or nothing’
Beckett and the matter of language
in Beckett and nothing

What lies behind textual images of the hard surface of the skull in Samuel Beckett's work is nothing but words; linguistic matter that describes cranial interiorities, wounded heads and a way of uttering traced through with lesions and disturbances. Beckett's late work is relatively well-known for its fascination with the interiority of the skullscape. It is perhaps more than felicitous idiom that gathers D'un ouvrage abandonné, Imagination morte imaginez, Bing and Assez into a collection published in 1967 in French as Têtes-mortes, or dead heads. The repetition of violent skull trauma in Beckett's texts is particularly significant because the effects of penetrating head wounds are also articulated. In Beckett's German letter, the attack on language punctures the abscess, causing a hole in its material fabric that allows inside to ooze into outside as the interiority of the cavity becomes topologically continuous with the surface of the skin.

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Beckett and nothing

Trying to understand Beckett

Editor: Daniela Caselli

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