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.
Beckett’s television plays and the idea of broadcasting
In the context of a tradition of critical discussion that characterises Samuel Beckett's plays for television as attempts to engage with nothingness, absence and death, this chapter argues that the television plays are critical explorations of the problematics of presence and absence inherent in the conceptions and histories of broadcasting. Television as a medium and a physical apparatus sets up spatial and temporal relationships between programmes and their viewers, relationships with which Beckett's television plays are in dialogue. The conceptions of medium and audience that Beckett's television plays suggest can be understood in terms of the contrasting implications of broadcasting as dissemination. Broadcasting is dissemination in good faith, despite its haunting by the prospect that some of what is broadcast will turn out to be a dead letter sent into the void.
Beckett's televisionplays confound the spectator, not least because of their representational ambiguity, their perplexing affective qualities and the singularity of their poetics. Of the five plays Beckett wrote specifically for television, Ghost Trio , his second teleplay, written in 1975, is considered by most critics to be his finest work for the medium. Filmed by the BBC in October 1976, and by Süddeutscher Rundfunk (SDR) the following year, it opens with V, the female voice, describing the set as ‘grey’ in its
, production methods on Beckett's televisionplays were unusual in their relationships between image and sound and in the technology used to realise them (Bignell, 2003 ). One of the similarities between the 1986 and 2013 versions is that both were shot as-live, with multiple cameras. In other words, each actor had a camera and a light just a few feet away from his face, and all of the cameras were shooting at the same time while the lines were spoken in a continuous performance. By contrast, after the waning of live television drama production in the 1970s, the great
media, especially in terms of his theatrical output. As such there have also been dedicated studies of Beckett's TVplays, such as monographs by Graley Herren ( Samuel Beckett's Plays on Film and Television ; 2007 ) or Jonathan Bignell ( Beckett on Screen: The Television Plays ; 2009 ), and a growing number of essays. Beckett's work in film and his relationship with cinema has similarly spawned a variety of approaches, including Anthony Paraskeva's Samuel Beckett and Cinema ( 2017 ). Beckett's radio plays have also increasingly become the object of scholarly
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( 2017 ), ‘ Ritual, Code, and Matheme in Samuel Beckett's Quad ’, Journal of Modern Literature , 40 : 4 , pp. 122–33 .
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Wulf (ed.), ‘The Savage Eye/L’Œil Fauve: New Essays on Samuel Beckett's TelevisionPlays’, Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui, 4, pp. 109–22 .