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

about the sweet?’ (71, italics mine). The non-recognition of the world/mother generates invisibility, the narrator sees himself as a pariah, begging for contact on the margins of the world. He moves from asking for an affirmation of his identity (i.e. his correct location, the time), to eventually begging for a ‘light’, feeling non-recognition tear at his sense of existence. He retrieves a sense of being by connecting to the maternal presence created by the boy’s feeding him the sweet in the earlier, primal, nurturing/recognizing moment. Failure in early nursing

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
The Spanish Gardener and its analogues

T HE SIXTH SENSE , an American film of 1999 from an Indian director, M. Night Shyamalan, with an all-American star (Bruce Willis), seems a very long way from British cinema of the 1950s. 1 But the boy in this film (Haley Joel Osment) seems almost a revenant from the British post-war era, with his lack of teenage quality, his innocence of youth culture and, more importantly, his anguished concern for

in British cinema of the 1950s
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grandmother. This scene is central to the following study. The internal world of the infant is its first story – at the beginning of life, this world is a preverbal, archaic, unconscious. It is the mother’s role, as a primary auditor, to recognize, to hear, to make sense of this world. This relationship is taken into the child, its stories/world flourish as it develops. To feel secure in the world, with a vibrancy and love of life, requires a sense of a loving, primary listener. These early moments of contact are primal fictions, primal truths, moments of primary

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
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reader will gain an appreciation of what I believe to be the fundamental emotional force that organizes his work – a need for contact with a primary, loving other. I will suggest that deeply embedded in his fiction and dramatic work is an enduring psychological struggle to engage the primal mother, in order to maintain a complete, enduring sense of selfhood. Within his work, this struggle and its consequences reflect universal experiences at the edge of the earliest moments of human life, experiences that have at their core the integrative qualities of maternal love

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

. They relax and separate. Estragon: You gave me a fright. Vladimir: I thought it was he. Estragon: Who? Vladimir: Godot. Estragon: Pah! The wind in the reeds. Vladimir: I could have sworn I heard shouts […] at his horse. (19)10 A sense of disorganized terror accompanies their primal abandonment, now experienced as hostile and sadistic. The mother’s voice, a Keller_05_ch4 140 23/9/02, 11:01 am 141 A strange situation wind in the reeds, is unpredictable and ambiguous, moving along a spectrum from loving concern to sadistic hostility. The boy who arrives at the

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

-mortem situation’, seemingly less tortured, but no less isolated and despairing than that of Play or The Unnamable. His refusal to accept a ‘good prayer’ by a ‘godly chandler’ (78), which might shorten this ambivalent state, highlights his loneliness. The chandlers’ importance in triggering this whole sequence is clear: Murphy devises a counterpart to their badness, reflecting the infant’s primal sense of the world-as-mother split into two halves, the good and the bad. Now so filled with hate he cannot engage either, his ultimate journey to Paradise will be difficult, the hill

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

devastation of this hope. Thus, Arsene speaks of the Fall, that ‘terrible day’ (42) that begins with a sense of calm, primal merger with the world: ‘I was in the sun, and the wall was in the sun. I was the sun, need I add, and the wall, and the step, and the yard, and the time of year, and the time of day, to mention only these’ (42). Basking in the glow of the background Knott/ mother, Arsene experiences a oneness with the external world, as a timeless lack of boundaries pervades his experience. This approximates a primary monadic bliss, beginning in utero, a vital part of

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
International man of stories

shape it in their own image. Bruce King has argued that the ‘commonwealth writer in exile’ has, in a sense, stolen a march on his postmodern metropolitan contemporaries in assimilating and creating literary styles to represent the fissures of a ‘translated’, alienated existence. He says of these writers: They are deconstructionists, not out of the logic that led others from structuralism to post-structuralism, but from the experience of divided, uprooted, unassimilated lives; but they are also reconstructionists in that for those genuinely threatened by chaos the

in Rohinton Mistry

language and art is, as we have seen, already part of Romanticism. Schlegel’s conception of irony puts in question the assumption that texts must inherently be about truth in a limited, propositional sense. Look, for example, at the essay ‘On Incomprehensibility’, where Schlegel at one point plays with the strategy of claiming that what he is saying is not ironic, a claim which it seems impossible to make in the context of a text about irony, because the very making of the claim ironically undermines it. The core problem for the interpreter of Nietzsche is that

in Aesthetics and subjectivity