Beckettian pain, in the flesh: singularity, community and 'the work'

Dowd, Garin ORCID: (2012) Beckettian pain, in the flesh: singularity, community and 'the work'. In: Samuel Beckett and Pain. Faux titre (372). Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York, pp. 67-91. ISBN 9789042035232

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This essay argues that the representation of pain in Beckett’s writing exposes the paradox in his work concerning the relationship of the individual suffering subject and the community. Making reference to studies of pain and literature generally and to salient studies of Beckett, the essay shows how the narration of pain in Beckett’s prose works in particular is closely linked to its more general interrogation of subject-object relations. As the preeminent agent, source as well as repository of pain, writing in Beckett itself comes to occupy, in a transpositional manner, the poles of subject, object and work. If ‘pain’ names the subject-object continuum (and thus a community of subject and object), that very conjunction exposes the co-habitants to their own mutual espacement – qua subject and object. The common feeling (of pain, of pains at each of the poles) is countermanded in advance by separation. The conjunction gives rise to a sapping, devastating and agonising attempt to conjure an image (of and as the object), an image which holds out the possibility of the felicity, or at least palliation, offered by community (and the work). The image is, however, both a wounding regime (which impedes utterance) and a generative regime (in that the thwarting of utterance restores the compulsion to continue to attempt to conjure the image through writing). The two components, pain and community, are illustrated with specific reference to Texts for Nothing, through an analysis of which a new conjuncture of the themes of pain, community and the role of the work of art is proposed.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Literature
Medicine and health > Physiology
Depositing User: Garin Dowd
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2014 11:13
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:05


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