The Trotskyite Joyce!

Comparative Criticism

Flaubert, Joyce and Beckett: The Stoic Comedians

Hugh Kenner
University of California Press, 1975, ISBN 0520025849; Paperback, Out of Print. [
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We do not have any information regarding this work, and would welcome any reviews or other material.

The Literature of Silence: Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett

Ihab Hassan
Random House, 1967, ISBN 0394433653; Hardcover, Out of Print. [
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Although they might seem a very unlikely pair (apart from their shared experience of publication by the notorious Olympia Press), Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett are considered in this work as proponents of an "anti-literature," writers who aspire to silence through apocalyptic aesthetics. In Hassan's view, works such as Tropic of Cancer and The Unnamable "reflect inverse worlds" and are stylized autobiographies of such extreme self-absorption, self-consciousness, and self-examination as to challenge the very idea of meaningful articulation. In his introduction, Hassan offers this direct comparison of these "inverse worlds":

Beckett leaves us with a world so depleted of life that nothing short of a cataclysm can renew it; we are close to the absence of outrage. And Miller presents us with a chaotic world constantly on the verge of transformation; we are witnesses to the rage of apocalypse. What both worlds share is the decree of silence. For the human tongue is speechless in fright and ecstasy.

Naturally, given its date, The Literature of Silence does not study any of Beckett's works written after How It Is (and Mercier and Camier is not mentioned at all), but the book does recognize in something of a prescient fashion many of the trademark gestures, fetishes, and tics of Beckett's fiction and stage, and offers some astute summary statements, like this one:

The function of form [in Beckett] . . . is to accept a basic intuition of chaos, and, paradoxically, to silence chaos in order to express it and silence language in order to express chaos.

This book deliberately harmonizes with contemporary works by Norman O. Brown and Marshall McLuhan, and maintains an accessible and amiable manner. If it is not a particularly demanding read, neither is it an affected one. (TC)

Beckett and Proust

Nicholas Zurbrugg
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 1988, ISBN 086140047X; Paperback, Out of Print. [
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From the publisher:

Not only does this book contain major analyses of Beckett's essay "Proust," and of his first unpublished novel, Dream of Fair to Middling Women, but also discussions of his latest prose works, Company, Ill Seen Ill Said and Worstward Ho.

Contents: Proust and Critical Perspectives; Positive Modes of Existence in A la recherche du temps perdu; Negative Modes of Existence in A la recherche du temps perdu; Nihilistic Modes of Existence in A la recherche du temps perdu; Beckett's Prousts -- The Singular and the Multiple; Beckett's Interpretation of the "Albertine Tragedy"; Beckett and the "Paradox" of the "Mystical Experience"; Beckett and Critical Perspectives; Beckett, Proust, and Dream of Fair to Middling Women; The Evolution of Beckett's Early Fictional Vision in More Pricks Than Kicks and Murphy; Watt and the Problem of Intelligibility; Beckett's Mature Fiction -- From "Shit" to "Shades"; Conclusion: "not life/necessarily" -- Beckett's "Shades"; Notes; Selected Bibliography; Index

Arts of Impoverishment: Beckett, Rothko, Resnais

Leo Bersani & Ulysse Dutoit
Harvard University Press, 1994, ISBN 067404875X; Hardcover $49.50. Out of Print. [
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We do not have any information regarding this work, and would welcome any reviews or other material.

Remembering and the Sound of Words: Mallarme, Proust, Joyce, Beckett

Adam Piette
Clarendon, 1996, ISBN 0198182686; Hardcover, $80.00 [

From the publisher:

In this book Adam Piette establishes fascinating new links between sound effects and the representation of memory in literary texts. He sets out a workable taxonomy of sound -- repetitions in prose and formulates, through a theory of alerting-devices, the ways in which the reader's attention is drawn to the acoustic surface of the text. Piette scrutinizes Mallarme's prose-poetry, Proust's musical syntax, Joyce's memory-rhymes (from Portrait of the Artist through Ulysses to Finnegans Wake), and Beckett's prose and drama, demonstrating that sound effects act as intricate reminders of memory-traces in the text. Despite how widely the four writers diverge in their representations of memory, Piette shows that the use of this memory-rhyme technique is common to them all.

Text/Countertext: Postmodern Paranoia in Samuel Beckett, Doris Lessing, and Philip Roth

Marie A. Danzinger
Peter Lang Publishing, 1996, ISBN 082042871X; Hardcover $34.95. [

From "Studies in Literary Criticism and Theory," Vol. 3. From the publisher:

This study analyzes the psychological and structural dynamic of three postmodern novels: Samuel Beckett's Malone Dies, Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, and Philip Roth's The Counterlife. Storytelling becomes here the dangerous activity of a guilty outsider who has come to expect hostile disapproval from all quarters. The result is a sadomasochistic confrontation between these postmodern writers and their imagined audiences: the pleasure of storytelling is linked to the pain the authors inflict upon their readers in retaliation for their anticipated disapproval. The structural consequence is serial negation the constant agonistic oscillation between text and countertext, reflecting the authors' determined efforts to sidestep criticism and maintain artistic control.

The Body Abject: Self and Text in Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett

David Houston Jones
Peter Lang, 2000, ISBN 3-906765-07-5; Paperback $35.95 [Browse/Purchase]

From the Volume 6 in the "Modern French Identities" series. From the publisher:

This is the first sustained study of the formation of identity in the fictions of Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett. In works like Beckett's prose Trilogy, or Genet's Journal du Voleur and Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, the human is beset by social exclusion and bodily disintegration. The sense of self which arises from this predicament is bound up with the sensation of abjection, the site of both a radical oppression and a paradoxical resurgence. Genet's and Beckett's affiliation with abjection frames questions of selfhood, body and language which continue to be posed with particular urgency in contemporary writing and theory.

Contents: Contents: Abjection: Theory and Writing - Origins: Parenting Fictions - Transgressive Sanctities - Visions and Derelictions - The Body Abject - Textual Abjects.

Go To:

Criticism Main Page -- Returns you to the Main Criticism page and the Quick Reference Card of titles.

Biography -- Beckett's life and times, as well as letters, conversations, and anecdotes.

General Criticism -- General literary criticism or commentary on Beckett and his writing.

Prose -- Guides and criticism for specific works of prose, critique, and poetry.

Drama -- Guides and criticism for specific dramatic works and stage pieces.

Specific Criticism -- Beckett criticism with a specific angle: existential, psychological, religious, nationalist, feminist, etc.

Theatre & the Arts -- Criticism and biography relating to Beckett in performance and non-print media.

--Tim Conley
& A. Ruch
8 March 2003

"Damn the mail" -- Send email to Apmonia's Tim Conley and the Great Quail -- comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions . . . all are welcome!