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Samuel Beckett and the End(s) of Man

Title: Samuel Beckett and the End(s) of Man: Writing at the Limits of Experience.
Name(s): Willits, Curt G., author
Gontarski, S. E., professor directing dissertation
Cloonan, William, outside committee member
Standley, Fred L., committee member
Laughlin, Karen, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2003
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Through a Blanchovian reading, this study situates Samuel Beckett's major novels as writings either grappling with problems toward or at the limits of experience. Beckett posits in 1936 the necessity for a "literature of the unword," a literature that for Maurice Blanchot is aligned to the liminal experience of the il y a—i.e., of Being in general, Being without beings. Heidegger points the way toward this "outside" as approachable through language, as that which language dissimulates through signification. However, in opposition to the Heideggerian experience of a cornucopiate enownment of beings between man and Being, Blanchot privileges the Levinasian experience of the il y a—of horror, dread, and exile coupled with witless fascination—which becomes for Blanchot, as well as for Beckett, a "human, all-too-human" ontological quest(ion): What does human consciousness (the writer's) and writing metamorphose into at the threshold of this "outside"? For Beckett, in approaching the undistinguished "there is," a consciousness remains, but barely, the subject-less writer ill seeing a world that is no longer a world, ill hearing a voice that cannot be heard, ill saying thoughts that cannot be thought. In terms of "the man who writes [who] is [. . .] no longer Samuel Beckett but the necessity which has displaced him" (Blanchot "Where Now? Who Now?"), the writer becomes merely the recorder of a streaming, demented, but acutely "analytical" language marking the perverse inhuman-human juncture of the eternal repetition of nothing. This study proposes that beginning with Watt, after Murphy's meditation upon the paradox of experiencing nothingness while simultaneously acknowledging it (playfully mirrored by the "omniscient" narrator's access to Murphy's hermetically enclosed mind), Beckett parodies Blanchot's situation of the writer: in Watt's cartooning of the schizoid nature of the dispossessed writer/witness; in Molloy's proffering a writerly, inhuman ideal and a human history toward that ideal; in Malone Dies' bringing to an end the "author"; and in The Unnamable's obtaining, although (and necessarily) failingly, the primal scene of a subject-less writer/writing, a "scene" of voiceless voices and "endgames" that resonates through Beckett's later novels, Texts for Nothing, How It Is and the Nohow On trilogy.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-0893 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2003.
Date of Defense: Date of Defense: April 7, 2003.
Keywords: Limits of Experience, Possibilities of a
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: S. E. Gontarski, Professor Directing Dissertation; William Cloonan, Outside Committee Member; Fred L. Standley, Committee Member; Karen Laughlin, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Willits, C. G. (2003). Samuel Beckett and the End(s) of Man: Writing at the Limits of Experience. Retrieved from