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Samuel Beckett and the Writers of Port-Royal

Foehn, Melanie (2012) Samuel Beckett and the Writers of Port-Royal. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:47430)

Language: English
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It has been observed that ‘the literary influences on Beckett have been far more important than has been acknowledged, and more important indeed, than the philosophical influences’ (Smith 2002: 3). The truth of this statement is evidenced by the description that scholars have given of Samuel Beckett’s relationship to seventeenth century French classicism. To date, critical interest has been limited for the most part to the figure of the philosopher René Descartes on the (fragile) grounds that Beckett was exclusively concerned with the Cartesian imperative of clarity and order, the fundamental dualism between body and mind, and Nominalism.

Together with the assumption that Beckett’s vision was essentially Cartesian, his literary filiation with Pascal was suggested by critics, but only in terms of Beckett’s formal approach to the theatre. In his short article on En attendant Godot in 1953, the playwright Jean Anouilh was among the first reviewers to suggest that Beckett’s drama synthesizes the encounter between ‘classicism’ and a ‘modern’ form of art. It is well known that Beckett retained a lifelong admiration for Pascal – indeed, Pascal was one of his ‘old chestnuts’ (Knowlson 1997: 653). Little attention has been paid, however, to the originality of Pascal’s thought, the specific nature of his prose, and the impact these might have had upon Beckett’s mature work, especially the trilogy and the subsequent short prose. Yet, in the literary and philosophical context of post-war France, Beckett’s filiation with Pascal, their corresponding preoccupations, were evident to his contemporaries, who identified Pascal as an underlying presence in his works.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Beckett Port Royal
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2015 12:12 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Foehn, Melanie.

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