Unwords
in Beckett and nothing

This chapter offers a philologically orientated analysis of Samuel Beckett's engagement with the nothing as conceived ontologically and ethically. It provides an analysis that focuses principally on his deployment of the words 'nothing', 'naught', 'nihil' and 'void'. The chapter presents consideration of some of the sources by way of which these words entered his literary vocabulary and came to serve as markers for an aporetic experience. These words might themselves be thought of as among Beckett's most important 'unwords'; words that work against what in the letter to Axel Kaun he terms the 'veil' of language in order to disclose that which lies beyond language. In opting for the words 'naught' and 'nihil' in his letter to Sighle Kennedy, Beckett indicates not only the precise textual nature of his encounters with philosophical writings on the nothing over three decades earlier but also the order in which these encounters took place.

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Beckett and nothing

Trying to understand Beckett

Editor: Daniela Caselli

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