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Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe and the Theater of Pure Means

Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe and the Theater of Pure Means J I M H A N S E N Identification, in fact, is ambivalent from the first; it can turn into an expression of tenderness as easily as into a wish for someone's removal. Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego amuel Beckett's work has never been particularly amenable to the maneuvers of political criticism. In fact, in his seminal 1963 essay "Trying to Understand Endgame," Theodor W. Adorno goes so far as to claim that "it would be ridiculous to put Beckett on the stand as a star political witness" (248). By reading Beckett alongside retheorized conceptions of the political and the theatrical, this essay proposes that we actually stop asking questions about the various political commitments of Beckett's work.1 Instead, as I'll suggest, we should begin to ask how his work very consciously stages "theatricality" in order to draw attention to the failings and omissions of modern notions of the political itself. Catastrophe and the Poetics of Sympathy At the concluding instant of Samuel Beckett's very brief 1982 play Catastrophe, the audience becomes witness to what appears as an 1. In particular, I will be using "the political" in the sense defined by http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe and the Theater of Pure Means

Contemporary Literature , Volume 49 (4) – Apr 30, 2009

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University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

J I M H A N S E N Identification, in fact, is ambivalent from the first; it can turn into an expression of tenderness as easily as into a wish for someone's removal. Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego amuel Beckett's work has never been particularly amenable to the maneuvers of political criticism. In fact, in his seminal 1963 essay "Trying to Understand Endgame," Theodor W. Adorno goes so far as to claim that "it would be ridiculous to put Beckett on the stand as a star political witness" (248). By reading Beckett alongside retheorized conceptions of the political and the theatrical, this essay proposes that we actually stop asking questions about the various political commitments of Beckett's work.1 Instead, as I'll suggest, we should begin to ask how his work very consciously stages "theatricality" in order to draw attention to the failings and omissions of modern notions of the political itself. Catastrophe and the Poetics of Sympathy At the concluding instant of Samuel Beckett's very brief 1982 play Catastrophe, the audience becomes witness to what appears as an 1. In particular, I will be using "the political" in the sense defined by

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Apr 30, 2009

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