Beckett's Dedalus

Beckett's Dedalus: Dialogical Engagements with Joyce in Beckett's Fiction

P.J. MURPHY
Copyright Date: 2009
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442687400
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  • Book Info
    Beckett's Dedalus
    Book Description:

    Paying close attention to the extensive network of allusions Beckett derived from Joyce's writing, P.J. Murphy reveals how Beckett consistently echoed and engaged in dialogue with Joyce's works.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8740-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Prolegomenon to Any Future Beckett Criticism
    (pp. 3-19)

    Beckett’s Dedaluswas conceived as both a complement and a supplement to my earlier study of the post-Trilogyprose,Reconstructing Beckett: Language for Being in Samuel Beckett’s Fiction(1990). It is a complement in so far as the emphasis now is upon an in-depth discussion of Beckett’s early works from ‘Assumption’ through toThe Unnamable, encompassing the first twenty years of his writing career (1929–49); only the final chapter now deals with the period that was the primary focus of the earlier work. More importantly,Beckett’s Dedalusis also supplementary in that it pursues a very different route towards...

  6. 1 Portraits of the Artist as a Young Critic: Beckett’s ‘Dante … Bruno . Vico .. Joyce’ and the Rewriting of Joyce in ‘Assumption’
    (pp. 20-43)

    To apprehend the complex and vexed underpinnings of the Joyce-Beckett relationship, we need to go back to Beckett’s first two published works, the essay ‘Dante … Bruno. Vico .. Joyce’ and the short story ‘Assumption,’ and read them anew; that is, with a hitherto unrecognized awareness of the extent to which these two so ostensibly very different texts are complementary. These two works need to be read together, as companion pieces, as a sort of palimpsest (keeping in mind, however, that ‘the danger is in the neatness of identifications,’Dis, 19).¹ Both of these pieces appeared in the double issue...

  7. 2 Dreams of a Fair to Middling Critic-Artist: The Nature of Symbol in Proust and the Role of Portrait as ‘Structural Convenience’ in Beckett’s First Novel
    (pp. 44-90)

    All of Beckett’s major productions in the early period of 1929 to 1945, from ‘Assumption’ toWatt, reveal in progressively more complex and detailed ways attempts to come to terms with and move beyond the aesthetic theory formulated inA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. ‘Assumption’ establishes the basic pattern that will be repeated with variations in the other works of this period: an initial assumption that the modernist moment of revelation is fundamentally inadequate as an authentic means of mediating and expressing the full complexity of contemporary life and art; hence Beckett’s starting point is a...

  8. 3 Re-Joyce-ing Murphy
    (pp. 91-121)

    One of the commonplaces of Beckett criticism is thatMurphy(1938) is Beckett’s most ‘Joycean’ work. What exactly this entails is not, however, made fully clear. Harold Bloom’s comments inThe Western Canonmight be regarded as a summary of the views of many Beckett critics in this regard. Bloom begins by declaring ‘I love best Murphy’ for it is ‘Beckett at his most Joycean,’ going on to comment that the ‘negative high spirits ofMurphy’ and ‘the beauty of the book’ are due to its ‘exuberance of language,’ then concluding with the judgments that this is ‘because it is...

  9. 4 What’s What in Watt
    (pp. 122-150)

    InMurphyBeckett engaged in an aesthetic debate with Joyce, and it was necessary as a prolegomenon to our discussion to deconstruct the assumptions about what constituted the so-called Joycean sources and influences. No such barriers block the critical approach toWatt. Indeed, the overwhelming consensus is that Beckett has by now moved decisively beyond Joyce, once and for all. This judgment is echoed even with reference to the one feature ofWattthat critics from early on did deem to be obviously ‘Joycean,’ namely, how the maddeningly (pseudo-) logical permutations of inventoried ‘items’ of all sorts inWattseem...

  10. 5 The Pseudocouple Dante-Joyce: The Nature of the ‘Revelation’ in Mercier and Camier and Stories
    (pp. 151-176)

    This study has thus far shown just how extensively Beckett’s works were influenced by a Joyce who exercised a much greater role in determining the structure, style, and aesthetic underpinnings of Beckett’s own writing than critics have heretofore recognized and acknowledged. Of course, it is Beckett’s own choice of Joyce that is decisive in this regard; from the very beginning in ‘Assumption,’ Beckett committed himself to an in-depth dialogical engagement with Joyce, in particular hisPortrait, in order to determine what direction his own aesthetic thinking might take. As we have encountered in a telling number of instances, Beckett’s fundamental...

  11. 6 A Not So ‘Distant Music’: Joycean Counterpoint in the Trilogy
    (pp. 177-200)

    The major breakthrough in ‘The Calmative’ was brought about by Beckett devising his own aesthetic by means of a combination of elements in his poem ‘The Vulture’ and an appropriation and revision of aspects of Dante’s vision concerning the Terrestial Paradise motif as the privileged zone of creative consciousness whereby the artist-figure can reconcile apparently contradictory elements. But the breakthrough in that story almost immediately becomes one of the breakdowns of theTrilogyas the issue of multiple subjects generated by the act of writing itself anticipates almost from the very beginning another author figure behind both Molloy and Moran...

  12. 7 Critical Beckett: Incorporating Joyce in the Post-Trilogy Works
    (pp. 201-226)

    The closing words of theTrilogypose a perplexing challenge: how to proceed when an ethical imperative is set in direct opposition to a negative that decries any such action and then, contrariwise, accedes to that very directive – ‘you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ This final ‘sentence,’ over three thousand words long, fittingly begins ‘Enormous prison,’ an apt structural description of what becomes in the process of articulation an embodiment of a veritable life sentence. The impasse of this would-be closure is inherent in the Unnamable’s desperate opening decision to ‘stay in,’ to shut out...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 227-254)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-262)
  15. Index of Works
    (pp. 263-265)
  16. Index of Names
    (pp. 266-268)