Samuel Beckett’s Abstract Drama

Works for Stage and Screen- 1962-1985

by Erik Tonning (Author)
©2007 Monographs 296 Pages
Series: Stage and Screen Studies, Volume 10


Samuel Beckett’s Play, written 1962-63, was an aesthetic watershed inaugurating his late, ‘abstract’ dramatic style. This book gets close to Beckett’s creative process by examining the possible influence of Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone music and Vassily Kandinsky’s abstract painting upon this formal shift; by tracing Beckett’s developing attitude to abstraction and its relation to his long-standing preoccupation with the ‘breakdown’ of the subject-object relation and the ultimate failure of all expression; and by following his formal choices through manuscript drafts. The author goes on to analyse Beckett’s attempt to adapt his new methods to the media of film and television, and to demonstrate how Beckett’s late works for stage and screen develop alongside one another right up to his 1985 adaptation of the play What Where for television. Throughout the book, unpublished manuscript materials such as Beckett’s letters, drafts, notes on philosophy, psychology and art, and his ‘German diaries’ augment a detailed account of the submerged sources that Beckett appropriated to the evolving needs of his abstract dramatic art.


ISBN (Softcover)
Beckett, Samuel Film Aesthetic Schopenhaur Expressionism Monadology Geschichte 1962-1985 Drama Creative Self
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007. 296 pp.

Biographical notes

Erik Tonning (Author)

The Author: Erik Tonning, D. Phil. (Oxon), is Research Fellow of the Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, and Norwegian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo. His current project is on Beckett’s lifelong agon with Christianity.


Title: Samuel Beckett’s Abstract Drama