Ulrika Maude

The next session in the London Beckett Seminar will take place on Friday April 28 at 18:00 BST. This month’s guest lecturer is Professor Ulrika Maude of the University of Bristol. Her lecture title is ‘Beckett’s Obscene Body of Poetry and Other Precipitates’ and addresses the following abstract:
The Published in 1935, Beckett’s first collection of poems, Echo’s Bones and Other Precipitates, is
characterised by an insistence on forms of bodily abjection, on imagery that is seldom associated with poetry. Figures such as “red sputum”, a “clot of anger”, “sweating” or “perspiring”, and phrases such as “breaking without fear or favour wind” permeate the collection, while in “Enueg II”, tulips seem to shine “like an anthrax”. In “Sanies I”, the title itself signifies the discharge of blood and pus from a wound, and the poem’s speaker has “hair ebbing gums ebbing”, while in “Sanies II” “a shiver convulses Madame de la Motte”. In “Malacoda”, written as a response to the death of Beckett’s father, the undertaker “felts [the] perineum” of the corpse and “mutes his signal”. The poetry, while having its antecedents in writers ranging from Ovid to Joyce, is obscene in the sense of being “offensive to the senses, or to taste or refinement” (OED), rendering it a type of anti-poetry that resists traditional conceptions of the aesthetic (as beautiful, as conceptual, as combining the sensory with the spiritual). The language and imagery of Beckett’s first collection of poems, with its refusal of metaphor and its lexical and syntactical resistances to interpretation—“scutal”, “malebranca”, “mutes his signal”, “ungulata”, “targe”, “divine dogday glass”, “stay Scarmilion stay stay” (all from “Malacoda”)—also resists the metaphysical consolations of poetry through its emphasis on metonymy and semantic opacity, and by insistently drawing attention to what is offensive to the senses and to sense. This paper will analyse the ethical demand of Beckett’s obscene body of poetry as a kind of anti-poetry.

All sessions of the Semianr are free to attend, but organisers kindly ask you to register for the forthcoming session using this link

Posted by:feargalw

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