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.

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The hidden self in Beckett’s short fiction

5 The dispeopled kingdom: the hidden self in Beckett’s short fiction Preceding chapters have examined the experience of primal disconnection in several of Beckett’s works. Murphy’s failure to recognize emerging, loving feelings, Watt’s inability to connect to an enduring, whole internal presence, the disrupted, enmeshed relationships in Waiting for Godot, the images of primal maternal absence in … but the clouds …, Footfalls and so forth, all reflect a central feeling-state of nonrecognition within narrative-self. This chapter focuses on first-person short

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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dramatic and prose. I suggest a reading of the work that assumes it is a production of a ‘narrative-self’, a virtual person who Keller_01_Intro 1 23/9/02, 10:45 am 2 Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love produces it as a whole, and that we can approach an understanding of the feeling-states and central psychological organization of this narrativeself through a close study of the texts. Finally, I suggest the texts reveal the convergence of the experience of psychological birth, made possible through the loving mind of the mother, and the birth of fiction, of

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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appears more interesting or exciting, though there is doubt about a theoretical notion I may have used to achieve this effect, I will have accomplished what I am setting out to do. One of the core arguments of this study is that Beckett’s oeuvre is a manifestation of a narrative-self whose universe is organized by a dominant feeling of precarious connection to a primary, good internal presence. I read the work as a record of purely internal experience, and do not wish to make claims about the actuality of early deprivation or hostility on the part of external objects

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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Murphy’s misrecognition of love

narrative flow, the characters, and imagery as reflective of the narrative-self that organizes the fiction. Levy writes: The book, then, is concerned far less with Murphy as one character than with the construction of a closed narrative system everywhere reflecting the abandonment or absence on which it rests. Every element in the novel either reflects Murphy or reflects other elements, which in turn reflect Murphy […] who is just a means of reflecting the experience of Nothing. The narrator has only to step forward, as he will in the later novels, and reveal that he has

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

Schizoid Positions, and there is a fluidity of imagos. At times, Watt appears predominantly in the maternal role, depleted through endless, unconditional loving of his master, while Knott acts as a devouring, insatiable infant, reflecting the condensed, confused experience of the narrative-self in its relation to an internal mother felt to be unreachable. Hoefer views Watt’s journey to Knott as an epistemological adventure doomed to failure because ‘there is no logical formulation to explain Mr Knott’ (Hoefer, 1965: 73). She believes Watt’s inability to access a reality

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

experiences enact this aspect of the narrative-self’s experience.3 The ‘codification’ and ‘impositions’ of language within the play are results of this primary rupture between primary containing and expressive aspects of the narrative-self, which struggles to be recognized within an entrapping, unheeding matrix. The play’s appeal can be partly understood because of its elucidation of primary states of human experience. The emerging-self responds to traumatic disconnection from the world/mother with powerful admixtures of rage, despair, and hope, developing powerful imagos

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love

themselves. Either way, the process of imperialism is viewed as the precondition of a sense of (European or theoretical) narrative Self, and is predicated on a distorting utilisation of the Other. Imperialism then is not only the explicit practice of power. It is also the disavowal of the possession of power through the belief in one’s ability to know and represent the Other; to pursue such a narrative representation is necessarily to turn the Other into a version of oneself. This formulation does not admit of any notion of possible or progressive mediation. The phenomenon

in Postcolonial contraventions

, however, the critical self is reintroduced with a distancing, convoluted phrase, ‘from what was diagnosed as . . .’, as he besmirches the reputation of his doctors. In some sense, he relinquished control of his own understanding in a sad and pathetic fashion – but the ‘narrativeself performs the role of maintaining an alliance between his resignation and his control. The depression is non-specific (again he does not quite understand an element of what he is describing), but, conversely and finally, the memory is highly specific: ‘the memory of those years is one of

in Fragmenting modernism

narrative, self-representation, the construction of “youth” and biography that I repeatedly revisit in this chapter. Returning to social movement studies, an ambiguity exists around the predominant participation of youth in “new social movements”. Melucci, in particular, attempts to consider the appeal and the function of social movement subcultures for young people and further interrogates the meaning of youth as a biological category in “post-industrial societies” (Melucci 1989 , 1996 ). However, due to the lack

in The autonomous life?