Samuel Beckett Series 2: Speech, Gaze and the Body

Announcing the second volume of the series
I'm happy to announce the French publication of the second volume of the Samuel Beckett Series, which includes a number of essays on 'Speech, Gaze and the Body'. Llewellyn Brown introduces the volume as follows: 'In Beckett’s work, the aesthetic dimension is intimately bound up with the subjective involvement of the creator. The first volume of the Series dealt with aspects of the creative impulse. This second volume situates aesthetic effects in a structuring triangle. First, speech in relation to silence that exceeds it. Then the image, with the gaze that underlies the visible. These two faces come together in the point where writing is experienced in the fundamentally material nature of the body.' You can see examples if how these ideas are explored in the essays mentioned below.

The third volume of the series, currently in preparation, will be devoted to the “dramaticules”.

Samuel Beckett Series 2: Essays

Ackerley, Chris
Recycled Elements in Words and Music/ Paroles et musique

Paradoxically, when venturing into new media, Beckett recycled themes and images of earlier works, creating a mixture of innovation and conservatism. Words and Music is thus situated between narrative movement, and the search for stillness and tonal effects. It innovates in making music an autonomous member of the cast. However it does not achieve a resolution of words and music, contrary to Cascando, since Music is unable to transcend the erotic connotations of the poem. This effect was achieved in Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume, by use of established musical masterpieces and by eliminating words.

Brown, Llewellyn
Visible and Gaze in Beckett: The ‘Need to see’

Although the term need may seem strange, when dealing with creation, it is the word Beckett chooses to express a fundamental position of the subject. The author pushes aside geometral representation to reveal a creation where light — associated with the visible — and darkness — chaos or nothingness, belonging to the invisible gaze — meet. Creation thus consists in attempting to make this unity exist in the form of a pure object.

Germoni, Karine
Play /Comédie de Beckett : Beckett or the Ever-Renewed Quest for an Ideal Music: The Example of Play/ Comédie

The genetic files of Play and Comédie testify to Beckett’s scrupulous efforts to elaborate in both languages a vertiginous and audacious musical language in which the ever increasing importance given to sound creates a inequality, on the perilous limits of intelligibility, the reception between reader and spectator. In fine, this result raises the question of the limits of playing on the musicality of language and performing the punctuation provided for in the textual ‘score.’

Gesvret, Guillaume
Space and Affect in Beckett’s Late Works : Variations of Scale

The plastic dimension of Samuel Beckett’s works constantly associates space and affect : sometimes alternating anxious constriction and limitlessness, sometimes, resorting to a melancholic burying or covering up. The question of scale, in the picto- rial, architectural or topographic sense, is another striking example of this ‘affected space’, which becomes a problem of aesthetic composition in Beckett’s later works. From the short texts of the 1960’s to the plays for the television, these works explore the disproportion of the body and the dislocation of place and gaze.

Houppermans, Sjef
Beckett and the van Velde Brothers: Between Painting and Writing

This article deals with the relation that existed between Beckett and the two painters Geer and Bram van Velde. Beckett’s “art poétique”, as it is implicitly developed in Le Monde et le pantalon, is one of the most personal testimonies of our author, where his desire as a writer is defined and determined. The two fundamental tendencies of Beckett’s work become visible in the juxtaposition of Geer, the well-structured and graceful artist, and Bram, the melancholic, passionate and post-expressionist painter.

Jeantroux, Myriam
Beckett’s Writing Behind the Scenes,
or ‘Haven’t the least desire to put pen to paper’

Basing our study on the direct testimony provided by his correspondance, we explore the modalities of Beckett’s creation: in what conditions is his work written? Why does this ‘quite impossible enterprise’ of writing remain nonetheless desirable? How is this paradox of desire and disgust expressed in the text? We will show that there is a remarkable genetic coincidence between the space of creation and created space, which is notably revealed through the themes of solitude, claustration and hinderance.

Jecic, Marie
Samuel Beckett: the Topological Stakes of the Subject

On reading Samuel Beckett, one is surprised and disconcerted. The reader witnesses a struggle, without being able to perceive the forces at play, nor what is at stake. By studying some of Beckett’s writings, we discover a dynamic topology that allows us to discern the cut where the subject comes to being by means of an act, and the movement that enables him to maintain this position.

Mével, Yann
The Beckettian Experience of the Face: A Form of Ascetics?

The novels of Beckett’s “Trilogy” do not show a liberation from the body: they display its dimension of otherness. Beckettian mind and body are far from succeeding in controlling affects. The search for a gaze pervades Beckett’s works as a whole, but if the existence of desire is necessary to justify the recourse to the notion of asceti- cism, the desire which underlies Beckett’s works, in spite of its ambivalence, mainly aspires to its own survival.

Siboni, Julia
Too Human Inhumanity,
or How Beckett Persists in Naming the Unnamable

The purpose of this article is to study different kinds of Beckettian silence, in the light of the ‘cæsura of civilisation’ represented by Auschwitz. Beckett relentlessly tries to make resound the silences that impede. Indeed, an obstacle bars the way from saying to said, pointing to an excess which language, that is always situated on the hither side or beyond, cannot hold back. Thus the otherness inherent in the voice awakens the spectre of the dead voices that haunt the subject.


For more information about the publication, published in French, you can get in touch with Llewellyn Brown at lbrown@free.fr.

Also at A Piece of Monologue: