Open Access (free)
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.

Derval Tubridy

interstices between both by way of neither. Drawing together prose, music and sculpture, I investigate the role of nothing through three works called neither and Neither: Beckett’s short text (1976), Morton Feldman’s opera (1977), and Doris Salcedo’s sculptural installation (2004).5 The Columbian artist Doris Salcedo’s work explores the politics of absence, particularly in works such as Unland: Irreversible Witness (1995–98), which acts as a sculptural witness to the disappeared victims of war. Her installation Neither draws on both Feldman’s music and Beckett’s text

in Beckett and nothing
Open Access (free)
Frank O’Hara
David Herd

, ‘had gone out of our lives’ (H, 43). At O’Hara’s funeral Larry Rivers told the congregation, ‘Frank O’Hara was my best friend. There are at least sixty people in New York who thought Frank O’Hara was their best friend’ (H, 138). To gauge the significance of this, in In Memory of my Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art, Russell Ferguson passes on the received wisdom that the New York avant-garde of the 1950s and early 1960s consisted of no more than 300 people. The premature death of any significant artist is always mythologized, as the composer Morton Feldman

in Enthusiast!
Ghosts and the busy nothing in Footfalls
Stephen Thomson

to and fro. This notion has some authorial licence: when asked by composer Morton Feldman to produce the ‘quintessence’, it is just such a movement that Beckett sketches.10 In neither, as in Footfalls, there is also movement between poles, between light and dark, self and unself, ‘by way of neither’: we are even told that ‘unheard footfalls only sound’.11 Indeed, in this curiously unclassifiable yet surprisingly blunt little piece it is not difficult to read something like a programme for Footfalls. The opera text has the advantage in being able to explain the

in Beckett and nothing
Open Access (free)
A short essay on enthusia
David Herd

of enthusiasm takes seriously the fact that any given book once didn’t, but more to the point might have never come to, exist, that literary culture depends for its existence and perpetuation largely on the time and energy of its enthusiasts. The composer Morton Feldman said, with regard to creativity, that what’s important is, ‘to have someone like Frank [O’Hara] standing behind you. That’s what keeps you going.’41 Hemingway recalled, ‘Pound the major poet devoting, say, one fifth of his time to poetry. With the rest he tried to advance the fortunes, both material

in Enthusiast!