The Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading is pleased to announce that the next Beckett Research Seminar will take place on Saturday, 24 November 2018.
The event will be held in the Conference Room of Special Collections, University of Reading, the Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading.
“As with many works of literature, it is easier to say what Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is not about, or what it is almost about, than to state its theme definitively or be certain, or even fully uncertain, about its meaning or indeed its origin in Beckett’s imagination. Most ways of describing it require terms that are in conflict with each other. Thus the play is concerned with exhaustion, with language and communication in a state of decay, but it is also nourished by strange energy, by wit, by tension, by moments of pure verbal excitement.”
“This skillful demonstration of the disease known as being alive, as diagnosed by a master playwright, is one I would recommend to any actor, student of literature or fan of tragedy and comedy. [Bill Irwin’s] On Beckett, which was conceived and staged by Mr. Irwin as an (almost) one-man show, carefully peels back the skin on an actor’s fascination with, and interpretation of, its title subject.”
The Samuel Beckett Society is sad to learn of the death of French literary critic Pascale Casanova, familiar to many Beckett scholars as the author of Samuel Beckett: Anatomy of a Literary Revolution. Our thoughts are with her family during this difficult period.
“This book draws on the theatrical thinking of Samuel Beckett and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze to propose a method for research undertaken at the borders of performance and philosophy. Exploring how Beckett fabricates encounters with the impossible and the unthinkable in performance, it asks how philosophy can approach what cannot be thought while honouring and preserving its alterity. Employing its method, it creates a series of encounters between aspects of Beckett’s theatrical practice and a range of concepts drawn from Deleuze’s philosophy. Through the force of these encounters, a new range of concepts is invented. These provide novel ways of thinking affect and the body in performance; the possibility of theatrical automation; and the importance of failure and invention in our attempts to respond to performance encounters. Further, this book includes new approaches to Beckett’s later theatrical work and provides an overview of Deleuze’s conception of philosophical practice as an ongoing struggle to think with immanence.”
— Palgrave Macmillan
“I first encountered Beckett through two novels that are not widely read, even in the university: Watt and Molloy. Simply put, these books forced me to reconsider what serious writing might look like. (I was then completing an M.Phil. thesis on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and wisdom literature.) Beckett and the Modern Novel was written out of a desire to come to terms, if I can put it that way, with what was happening in those books.
You know that Beckett reluctantly gave a series of lectures in 1930 to students at Trinity College, Dublin, and that two main sets of notes taken by Beckett’s students survive. Re-reading Beckett’s early fiction, guided by cues drawn from the lecture notes, I demonstrated that his take on what he called ‘The Modern Novel’ was largely cribbed from a pre-existing body of theory, French in origin, and in particular from work by an unacknowledged influence: André Gide. Further, Beckett then began to deploy and extend such theory in his early novels, which generated the fragmented form and ‘tripartite’ characters that have often puzzled commentators. From the beginning then, Beckett’s thought should be read alongside a body of Continental experimental writing of the pre-war period; and it was from this context that he also drew key paradoxes culminating in his mature theory of an art of ‘failure’. It seemed to me that Gide would be the last major influence on Beckett’s novelistic theory and practice that we would likely discover (so far I have been proven correct).
The monograph also allowed me to spend time with some of Beckett’s fictional interlocutors and inheritors, particularly in the French context: Sade, Bataille, Robbe-Grillet, and others.” — John Samuel Bolin
“[James McNaughton’s] 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.”
“Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play investigates how audience discomfort, instead of a side effect of a Beckett pedagogy, is a key spectatorial experience which arises from an everyman intuition of loss. With reference to selected works by Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant and Gilles Deleuze, this book charts the processes of how an audience member’s habitual way of understanding could be frustrated by Beckett’s film, radio, stage and television plays. Michelle Chiang explores the ways in which Beckett exploited these mediums to reconstitute an audience response derived from intuition.” — Palgrave Macmillan
“What was it about Samuel Beckett? In addition to writing fiction and plays that continue to absorb audiences and tease the imagination, the Nobel Laureate attracted collaborators in life and continues to extend his influence today. Writers from Harold Pinter to John Banville have acknowledged their debt to him, but it’s also a legacy that goes beyond words.”