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This study is about the central place of the emotional world in Beckett's writing. Stating that Beckett is ‘primarily about love’, it makes a re-assessment of his influence and immense popularity. The book examines numerous Beckettian texts, arguing that they embody a struggle to remain in contact with a primal sense of internal goodness, one founded on early experience with the mother. Writing itself becomes an internal dialogue, in which the reader is engaged, between a ‘narrative-self’ and a mother.

Open Access (free)
John Robert Keller

Introduction For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds, Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. Wallace Stevens Till feeling the need for company again he tells himself to call the hearer M at least. (Samuel Beckett) It is often said that the opening words of the psychoanalytical session contain the totality of what is to come. Thinking this true of the scholarly text, I find myself writing that this study is primarily about love. This might seem somewhat odd for a reading of Beckett, but I hope that in what follows the

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
Open Access (free)
John Robert Keller

suitability of foods. These associations touch upon the heart of this study, and it is in the final sequence of the dream, the presentation of the note, that I feel the most confidence. The note was highly condensed, the cross-hatching of its surface lines made it almost impenetrable to the eye. These lines, these primal shapes that are the basis of the written text, resembled the intricate branching of a nest, as well as the collagen patterns of the skin. I feel it Keller_06_ch5+Epil 217 23/9/02, 11:03 am 218 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love was indeed an

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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Watt’s unwelcome home
John Robert Keller

90 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love 3 This emptied heart: Watt’s unwelcome home Beckett’s second published novel, Watt, tells the story of the title character’s journey to, stay in, and expulsion from the house of a Mr Knott, to which he has been drawn, or summoned, to act as a servant. After his stay in the house, Watt becomes psychotic, ending up in a sort of asylum. Sam, the narrator, befriends him there, but admits the text may not approximate reality, since he can trust neither Watt’s recollection (of his stay with Knott) nor his own recollection

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
Open Access (free)
John Robert Keller

becomes part of the self. This is a fluid, ongoing process, but in its most basic form during early life, it involves the manner in which the emerging, nascent self begins to take into itself experiences of others, of the world, and of external relationships. In the earliest states of mind, there is a blurring between self and other, and boundaries shift and Keller_02_ch1pm 9 23/9/02, 10:48 am 10 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love dissolve. A major focus of this study is the earliest, most fundamental sense of contact with a good mother, which I tend to view

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
Open Access (free)
Murphy’s misrecognition of love
John Robert Keller

built this narrative system in order to reflect his own strange experience in it and thereby gain some expression of his identity. (Levy, 1980: 25) This reading suggests the narrative-self is reflected everywhere, as in a dream or psychoanalytical session, and the ‘text’ is a manifestation of the self and its owned, and disowned, parts. In this sense, then, the narrative-self is always stepping forward. The fundamental experience Keller_03_ch2pm 49 23/9/02, 10:56 am 50 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love that dominates the narrative-self, supplying the work

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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Self-entrapment in Waiting for Godot
John Robert Keller

something absolutely required by the self (of which Vladimir and Estragon are manifestations). This is not any sort of legitimacy, which would imply a false-self compliance, but a secure internal sense of love and recognition. The characters cannot be literally nostalgic, since this primary connection is something they have not had. The ‘infinite, postmodern world’ is understandable only as a part of the totality of the human mental universe. It is the province of those Keller_05_ch4 133 23/9/02, 11:00 am 134 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love positions of the

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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The hidden self in Beckett’s short fiction
John Robert Keller

internal ‘den’ of schizoid anxiety, with ‘assassins […] in this bed of terror’, but in ‘his distant refuge [i.e. an imagined past or a psychic retreat within the self, he is …] weak, breathless, calm, free’ (62). Walking through the world as an invisible, despised alien, he meets a small boy, ‘holding a Keller_06_ch5+Epil 173 23/9/02, 11:03 am 174 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love goat by a horn’, who looks at him ‘without visible fear or revulsion’. The boy, he believes, has come to see him out of curiosity: this Wattlike ‘dark hulk […] abandoned on the

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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Trying to understand Beckett
Editor: Daniela Caselli

Nothing' has been at the centre of Samuel Beckett's reception and scholarship from its inception. This book explains how the Beckett oeuvre, through its paradoxical fidelity to nothing, produces critical approaches which aspire to putting an end to interpretation: in this instance, the issues of authority, intertextuality and context, which this book tackles via 'nothing'. By retracing the history of Beckett studies through 'nothing', it theorises a future for the study of Beckett's legacies and is interested in the constant problem of value in the oeuvre. Through the relation between Beckett and nothing, the relation between voice and stone in Jean-Paul Sartre and Beckett, we are reminded precisely of the importance of the history of an idea, even the ideas of context, influence, and history. The book looks at something that has remained a 'nothing' within the Beckett canon so far: his doodles as they appear in the Human Wishes manuscript. It also looks at the material history of televisual production and places the aesthetic concerns of Beckett's television plays. The book then discusses the nexus between nothing and silence in order to analyse the specific relations between music, sound, and hearing. It talks about the history of materiality through that of neurology and brings the two into a dialogue sustained by Beckett texts, letters and notebooks. The book investigates the role of nothing through three works called neither and Neither: Beckett's short text, Morton Feldman's opera, and Doris Salcedo's sculptural installation.

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The no-thing that knows no name and the Beckett envelope, blissfully reconsidered
Enoch Brater

cautiously in his introduction, ‘are therefore intended to be more suggestive than definitive’.2 My own contribution to the volume was a short piece that served, as this one does, as the final entry but not the final word on an intellectual dilemma that was at best both playful and profound. ‘The empty can: Samuel Beckett and Andy Warhol’, composed soon after completing my Ph.D. during the time when I was still trying to figure out how not to write about this most formidable of Irish playwrights, ended, pace Cleanth Brooks,3 like this: The well-wrought urn may have indeed

in Beckett and nothing