Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath

Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath

by James McNaughton


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Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath explores Beckett's literary responses to the political maelstroms of his formative and middle years: the Irish civil war and the crisis of commitment in 1930s Europe, the rise of fascism and the atrocities of World War II. Archive yields a Beckett who monitored propaganda in speeches and newspapers, and whose creative work engages with specific political strategies, rhetoric, and events. Finally, Beckett's political aesthetic sharpens into focus.

Deep within form, Beckett models ominous historical developments as surely as he satirizes artistic and philosophical interpretations that overlook them. He burdens aesthetic production with guilt: imagination and language, theater and narrative, all parallel political techniques. Beckett comically embodies conservative religious and political doctrines; he plays Irish colonial history against contemporary European horrors; he examines aesthetic complicity in effecting atrocity and covering it up. This book offers insightful, original, and vivid readings of Beckett's work up to Three Novels and Endgame.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198822547
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

James McNaughton, Associate Professor of English, University of Alabama

James McNaughton is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Alabama. Indebted to archival research, Dr. McNaughton's work examines the intersections among history, politics, and modernist aesthetics. His areas of specialty include twentieth-century Irish writing, British and Irish poetry, and international modernisms. He has previously published in the Journal of Modern Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, and elsewhere. He also writes non-fiction essays.

Table of Contents

Introduction: 'Reduced to doing a lap with Fuhrer': Beckett's Political Aesthetic
1. 'The same old mouldy words': Beckett, Modernism, and the Irish Free State
2. 'Echo's Bones': Sex, Politics, and Entailment in the Irish Free-State
3. Beckett in History: German Diaries, Watt, and the Problem of Propaganda
4. Taking Them at their Word: Politics of the Body in Malone Dies
5. 'It all boils down to a question of words': The Unnamable and History's Abattoirs
6. 'Prophetic Relish': Famine Politics in Beckett's Endgame

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