Samuel Beckett and Encounter of Philosophy and Literature

How does philosophy think? How does Beckett’s literature think? Are they different ways of thinking the same? Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature is an assortment of critical investigations re-reading the complex encounter between Beckett’s works and the discourses of philosophy. It marks an effort to read Beckett’s texts in various conjunctive and disjunctive possibilities where they encounter philosophy, bringing in the domain of theatrical performance and its own philosophical potential. The book is concerned with the discursive traffic which goes on between philosophy and literature, a traffic in which Beckett is a representative and symptomatic figure. It examines Beckett’s reception by a series of philosophically important proper names like Blanchot, Deleuze, Badiou, Critchley and Derrida—thinkers who have responded in one way or another to the challenge of Beckett’s works. It also intends to read Beckett alongside thinkers who did not or could not respond to Beckett due to their absence in Beckett’s time and vice versa. A classic and relevant example of the relation between Beckett and 20th century philosophers, is an approach of his works through Hegel. In this case, as in others, mutual absence paves the way for the encounter.

The articles in the volume seek to explore the problematic traffic where Beckett is upheld by philosophers who try to incorporate him in their own philosophical systems, and how Beckett in turn slips away and reshapes the philosophical discourses with the irreducible singularity of his works. In the process we encounter a Beckett who seems to be the favourite writer of 20th century philosophy, but also another Beckett whose works offer an innate resistance to philosophical ideation, revealing thus a fascinating ability to exhaust philosophical as well as hermeneutic operations. The book revisits the strong philosophical propensity within Beckett Studies with new critical accents like archival scholarship, Indian philosophy, the philosophical discursification of the literary proper name, and with fresh critical approaches like reading Beckett as a symptom of the dispute between two different conceptions of philosophical language: the Continental and the Analytic.

Arka Chattopadhyay studied in India at Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and Jadavpur University. He has taught in colleges and universities in India and is currently researching at the University of Western Sydney. He has published on Beckett in international Journals like Miranda and Samuel Beckett Today.

James Martell studied Philosophy at the University of Kansas and Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico. He has published on Beckett, Derrida, Žižek, Deleuze, Blanchot and Joyce. He is currently researching at the University of Notre Dame.

Prof Anthony Uhlmann is the author of Beckett and Poststructuralism (Cambridge UP, 1999) and Samuel Beckett and the Philosophical Image (Cambridge UP, 2006). His main research interests concern the interrelation of literature and philosophy, and the nature of literary form. He is the Chief Editor of the Journal of Beckett Studies.