Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature

Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature. Edited by Arka Chattopadhyay and James Martell. Foreword by Anthony Uhlmann. Roman Books, London, June 2013.

How does philosophy think? How does Beckett s literature think? Are they different ways of thinking the same? Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature is an assortment of critical investigations re-reading the complex encounter between Beckett s works and the discourses of philosophy. It marks an effort to read Beckett s texts in various conjunctive and disjunctive possibilities where they encounter philosophy, bringing in the domain of theatrical performance and its own philosophical potential. The book is concerned with the discursive traffic which goes on between philosophy and literature, a traffic in which Beckett is a representative and symptomatic figure. It examines Beckett s reception by a series of philosophically important proper names like Blanchot, Deleuze, Badiou, Critchley and Derrida thinkers who have responded in one way or another to the challenge of Becketts works. It also intends to read Beckett alongside thinkers who did not or could not respond to Beckett due to their absence in Beckett s time and vice versa. A classic and relevant example of the relation between Beckett and 20th century philosophers, is an approach of his works through Hegel. In this case, as in others, mutual absence paves the way for the encounter. The articles in the volume seek to explore the problematic traffic where Beckett is upheld by philosophers who try to incorporate him in their own philosophical systems, and how Beckett in turn slips away and reshapes the philosophical discourses with the irreducible singularity of his works. In the process we encounter a Beckett who seems to be the favourite writer of 20th century philosophy, but also another Beckett whose works offer an innate resistance to philosophical ideation, revealing thus a fascinating ability to exhaust philosophical as well as hermeneutic operations. The book revisits the strong philosophical propensity within Beckett Studies with new critical accents like archival scholarship, Indian philosophy, the philosophical discursification of the literary proper name, and with fresh critical approaches like reading Beckett as a symptom of the dispute between two different conceptions of philosophical language: the Continental and the Analytic.

Praise for the book:

I am not a philosopher, Beckett purportedly told Tom Driver in 1961, One can only speak of what is in front of him, and that now is simply the mess. The mess , however, is itself a philosophical issue, one suggesting at very least the relationship of order and chaos, and so Beckett affirmed to Driver the interrelationship of literature and philosophy in his very denial. Beckett may not be an exponent of any philosophical system, of any system at all, for that matter, but his work is infused with the issues of philosophy, epistemology and ontology among the more prominent. This wide-ranging collection of essays by a group of younger international scholars explores the intersection, the encounter, as the editors deem it, of literature and philosophy, and brings into high relief Beckett s most salient and profound philosophical themes not to mark Beckett as being of this or that school, but to see philosophy as a process, thought in action. Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature belongs on the shelf not only of any serious student of Beckett’s work but of any student of Modern literature and culture.
———Prof Stanley Gontarski, Florida State University

Encounter a face-to-face meeting, a skirmish, an accosting, an amatory interview, an unexpected thought, and a name for the rhetorical figure of antithesis. These definitions, provided by the Oxford English Dictionary, confirm the aptness of the title of this groundbreaking collection: Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature. In Beckett philosophy and literature encounter one another in a skirmish that is also an amatory tryst, and this meeting brings forth the unexpected thoughts that Hobbes describes as encounters of extraordinary Fancy. The essays in this volume abound with such encounters, revealing the insights to be gained by accosting the antithesis between philosophy and literature. In Beckett’s writing these intellectual domains cannot be held apart; in their face-to-face encounter, the literary and the philosophical infiltrate each other, belying disciplinary boundaries.
——Prof Maud Ellmann, University of Chicago

1. Xymena Synak-Pskit (University of Gdansk)
— Beckett and the Expression of Desire
2. Saranya Sen (University of Calcutta)
—Problematizing Deleuze: Endgame and Beckett’s Questioning of ‘Transcendental
3. Narges Montakhabi (Shahid Beheshti University)
— Deleuze and Beckett: The Case of “Whoroscope”
4. Arthur Rose (University of Leeds)
— Beckett: a Quilting Point?
5. Richard Marshall (Institute of Education: London University)
— The Illusory Nothing of Endon’s Affence
6. Matthieu Protin (Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)
—Samuel Beckett’s Drama: A Philosophical Theatre between Denial and Philosophy
in Action
7. H. Peter Steeves (DePaul University)
—The Space of a Door: Mourning, Memory, Madness, Beckett
8. James Martell (University of Notre Dame)
— Between Beckett and Derrida: A Hegelian Death
9. Christopher Langlois (University of Western Ontario)
— ‚A striking irregularity of contour‘: Blanchot, Beckett, and the Phenomenology of
Fascination in Watt
10. Jean-Michel Rabate (University of Pennsylvania)
—Beckett’s Three Critiques: Kant’s Bathos and the Irish Chandos
11. Rhys Tranter (Cardiff University)
—-Late Stage: Trauma, Time and Presence in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Footfalls’
12. Arka Chattopadhyay (University of Western Sydney)
—‘Dying On’: Possibility of an Evental Death and Badiou’s Amorous Beckett
13. Bruno Clement (Paris VIII)
—‚But what is this voice?‘
14. Ranjan Ghosh (North Bengal University)
—Endgame: The Transcultural Instant and the New Reality



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