France: 1928-1939

Dowd, Garin ORCID: (2013) France: 1928-1939. In: Samuel Beckett in context. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 76-86. ISBN 9781107017030

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The decade in which Samuel Beckett undertook his chaotic version of the European tour, with Paris the closest thing to home, was, by any standards, and at the not inconsiderable risk of understatement, an extraordinary one. At the beginning of his most peripatetic decade Beckett found himself back in Dublin following the two years he had spent at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (from the end of October 1928 to September 1930). He was back in Paris when Eamon de Valera’s Fianna Fáil won the election in the Irish Free State and stayed until August 1932 when he returned to Dublin. His experience of London from 1933 onwards was far from felicitous, as his letters of the period attest. While on a lengthy holiday sojourn in Germany between late September 1936 and March 1937, Beckett witnessed with some detachment a state building towards the Anschluss and perceived elements of the inexorable logic which would lead to the development of technologies (in soft and hard forms) of mass persecution, genocide and expansionism. Following a spell in Dublin, his return to France in October 1937 meant that he was not there to witness the short tenure of the Popular Front government of Léon Blum, although he was in France during the brief revival of Blum’s administration between March and April 1938. Following this period, the France in which Beckett resided would be propelled by the impetus of the hard turn to the rightof the elite cadre trained in the Sciences Po towards the decade’s end, and by the technocratic Daladier regime. That a writer of Beckett’s intellectual stature, extensive cultural knowledge and linguistic prowess should encounter, and for significant periods reside in, nations in the throes of such unprecedented reconfiguration and flux merits consideration.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Literature
Depositing User: Garin Dowd
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2016 15:48
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:19

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