Beckett's Dantes

Beckett's Dantes: Intertextuality in the fiction and criticism

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 240
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    Beckett's Dantes
    Book Description:

    Beckett's Dantes: Intertextuality in the fiction and criticism is the first study in English on the literary relationship between Beckett and Dante. It is an innovative reading of Samuel Beckett and Dante's works and a critical engagement with contemporary theories of intertextuality. The volume interprets Dante in the original Italian (as it appears in Beckett), translating into English all Italian quotations. It benefits from a multilingual approach based on Beckett's published works in English and French, and on manuscripts (which use English, French, German and Italian). The book is aimed at the scholarly communities interested in literatures in English, literary and critical theory, comparative literature and theory, French literature and theory and Italian studies. Its jargon-free style will also attract third-year or advanced undergraduate students, and postgraduate students, as well as those readers interested in the unusual relationship between one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and the medieval author who stands for the very idea of the Western canon.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-365-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    Dante is a strange object in Beckett studies; it stands out and stands for Beckett’s greatness and isolation. This single object breaks the disquieting impersonality of the setting; it evokes a nostalgia for times gone by, and it confirms the intellectual rigour of the author. Dante’s presence is pervasive in Beckett studies. The student edition of theComedyappears not only in Beckett’s work as the ‘beslubbered Salani edition’² but also – with remarkable frequency – in Beckett biographies, which refer to the Trinity College years during which Beckett’s tutor Bianca Esposito guided him through the thicket of Dante’s canticles,³ to his...

  5. 1 Dantes in Limbo
    (pp. 10-34)

    The early Beckett essay ‘Dante…Bruno.Vico..Joyce’, was written in 1929 at Joyce’s suggestion about the debt ofWork in Progressto Dante, Bruno, and Vico.¹ The essay opens by claiming that ‘the danger is in the neatness of identifications’; such ‘neatness’ can reduce the comparison to ‘a carefully folded hamsandwich’, an act of ‘pigeon-holing’ or of ‘book-keeping’ (19). Rather than limiting the analysis to the passages where ‘explicit illustration’ of one text within another can be found, the essay privileges what it calls ‘reverberations’ or ‘reapplications’. The not-so-easily ‘visible’ literary contaminations are juxtaposed with ‘the stiff interexclusiveness that is often the...

  6. 2 Belacqua does not observe ‘the rule of the road’
    (pp. 35-56)

    InDream of Fair to Middling Womenintertextuality is both a dismantling practice and a verbal game. By establishing a constellation of texts of reference while reacting against that same literary legacy,Dreamconstructs a canon in order to question it.

    The allusions to Dante in this text are very frequent: theComedyis occasionally quoted by Belacqua, who repeats the phrase ‘qui vive la pietà …’ fromInfernoXX, 28 as a form of ‘incantation’, and by the narrator, who turns into a joke the lines from Inferno III, 95 and V, 23, ‘Vuolsi così colà, dove si puote...

  7. 3 Strata and mysteries: intratextuality in More Pricks Than Kicks
    (pp. 57-80)

    Dream of Fair to Middling Womenargues that the realistic notion of character is conventional and ‘chloroformed’, questioning it through a Belacqua whose multiple intertertextual dimensions mirror his declared ‘unreality’. Thus, Belacqua is at once a character and its own critique and dissolution. InMore Pricks Than Kicks,Belacqua is, once again, the protagonist.¹ In this text, he is not only an explicitly intertextual figure but also an intratextual one, in so far as he inherits many features of theDreamBelacqua.

    More Pricks Than Kicksis a Beckett work which not only re-elaborates texts by other authors but also...

  8. 4 Fatigue and disgust: Murphy and Watt
    (pp. 81-101)

    InDream of Fair to Middling WomenandMore Pricks Than Kicks,Dante is not only ever-present in the figure of Belacqua but is also a means to question notions of fictionality, teleological progression, and textual boundaries. InMurphyandWatt,Belacqua is no longer a character and Dante becomes an absence; an analysis of the ways in which Dante canbean absence in these texts will illustrate how the intertextual relationships between Beckett and Dante affect notions of authority, source, and influence.

    Dante as an absence inMurphyimplies the adoption of the Foucauldian notion of author-function.1 Comparing...

  9. 5 Who is the third beside you? Authority in Mercier and Camier
    (pp. 102-119)

    Beckett scholarship has long noted that inMercier and Camier‘the real issue concerns the relationship between the author and his two dupes’ and that the ‘ true “pseudocouple” is not Mercier and Camier but the author linked with his two creations.’¹ I propose to expand on this point by P.J. Murphy, in order to observe how the issues of authority, visibility, and invisibility can be helpful to assess the role played by Dante inMercier and Camierin relation to bothMercier et Camierand other texts by Beckett.

    Written in French in 1946,Mercier et Camierwas published...

  10. 6 Déjà vu beyond reach: from the Novellas to the Three Novels
    (pp. 120-147)

    In my reading ofMercier et/and CamierI observed how Dante migrates from one text to the other. Sometimes allusions to Dante are repeated in Beckett’s selftranslated version; alternatively, the quotations from Dante are erased and this erasure is commented upon; other times still, some allusions are replaced with different ones, always from theComedy.These shifts intratextually contribute to the construction of the author Samuel Beckett and make each of the two versions part of a process of self-commentary.

    Dante is a significant discourse also in the prose texts from theNouvelles/Novellas(alternatively called Stories) to theTextes pour...

  11. 7 Staging the Inferno in How It Is
    (pp. 148-182)

    InHow It Is/Comment c’esta creature panting in the mud murmurs ‘his “life” as he hears it obscurely uttered by a voice inside him’ while he journeys from left to right.¹ Scholars have often seen Dante lurking behind the ‘I’’s dreams of places ‘above’ and ‘below’ the mud, and they have argued that theComedymediates this spatially oriented tripartite narrative.² The text appears in print as a series of versets of various lengths, which have been visually compared to Dante’s terza rima, a poetic form that uses repetition according to the spiral movement of ‘unceasing forward motion and...

  12. 8 ‘In the words of the poet’: The Lost Ones
    (pp. 183-200)

    The Lost Ones/Le dépepleurhas been described as a ‘Dantean hellscape,’ for more than one reason: the English title evokes the ‘perduta gente’ (‘the lost people’ or ‘the lost ones’) mentioned on the gate of theInfernoin canto III; the text refers to the final line of theParadiso,it groups the beings inhabiting the concentrically divided ‘closed place’ into categories according to their postures and orientation, and it is concerned with ‘a way out’ of this faintly lit rotunda.¹

    If inHow It IsDante participates in the game between saying and quoting (within and without), here Dante’s...

  13. Conclusion: Farewell to the old lutist
    (pp. 201-205)

    Dante in Beckett is a figure of the ‘belatedness, secondarity, and debt’ which characterise the Beckett canon.¹ Dante is ‘the impossible first’ and the ‘impossible last’: it is company throughout, ‘on the way from A to Z’.²

    Scholars who have analysed the work of Joyce, Eliot, or Pound in relation to Dante have suggested various forms of teleological development: Lucia Boldrini interestingly indicates that Mary Reynolds’s thematic approach to Dante is acceptable up toUlyssesbut fails with regard toFinnegans Wake,a text in which ‘Joyce’s use of Dante becomes most pervasive and far-reaching’; Dominic Manganiello juxtaposes the early...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 206-225)
  15. Index
    (pp. 226-232)