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Samuel Beckett: Undoing Time

Samuel Beckett: Undoing Time

Jennifer Birkett

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This dynamic new account of Samuel Beckett’s life and literature offers a systematic overview and discussion of his drama, prose and poetry; making accessible his later and less well-known pieces. It is informed by the most recent biographical and critical perspectives on Beckett and his modernist contexts.

Since his death in 1989, it has become difficult to imagine that Samuel Beckett was once a virtually unknown writer. Born in 1906 into a respectable middle-class family in a Dublin suburb, he came late to fame in the early 1950s with the ground-breaking play, Waiting for Godot. Since Godot, his writing has been translated, published, and staged throughout the world.

This highly accessible and original narrative account offers a new opportunity to engage with a towering figure of Irish and world literature. It offers a systematic overview of his best-known and most popular work, in poetry, drama, prose, radio and television along with his more difficult pieces. Original close readings explore his transformative work on language and form. For Beckett, life was a matter of doing time, while writing was a way of undoing it. In the process, writer, audiences and readers enter into a different understanding of how it is to be human.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Life in Time; Human Time ; Everybody’s Beckett; Ireland’s Beckett

1. The Long Beginning (1928-46) : ‘James Joyce’s White Boy’; Poetic Beginnings - Translating; Coming into His Own; The Writer in Wartime; The Poetry of the Subject -  Lost in Time

2. Beginning with Prose The Apprentice; The Journeyman

3. Refusing Mastery:  Consuming, Composting, Composing Impasse - The Rhythm of Contradiction; Another Way Through - The Turning of Worm

4. The Shorter Prose - False Starts, Fresh Ends: Texts for Nothing - ‘Under a Different Glass’; How It Is; ‘Eternally I’ - The Mobile Text

5. Drama from Eleutheria to Happy Days: A Material Stage; Eleutheria - Subverting the Spectator; Waiting for Godot - Doing Time; Endgame - Playing to Lose; Krapp’s Last Tape - ‘Drowned in Dreams and Burning to be Gone’; Happy Days - The Dance of Love

6. The Shorter Plays - Diminishing Returns: The Gender Gap; Watch this Space

7. Broadcasting Beckett:  Beckett on Radio; Beckett on Screen - Projecting Meaning onto the Void

Additional Information

Author Jennifer Birkett
Publisher Irish Academic Press
Publication date 15 May 2015
Format Paperback
ISBN/EAN 9780716532903

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