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Literature of Consciousness

Samuel Becket – Subject – Negativity

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Jakub Momro

The questions the writer Samuel Beckett posed in his dramas, his prose and his poetry are the central questions asked by the most outstanding thinkers of modernity. Samuel Beckett, therefore, is the central figure in this book, but he is not alone. This study is not only a precise literary analysis, but it also traces transformations in terms of subjectivity and tries to conceptualize them. It universalizes the issues that emerge from the friction between the consciousness and the world, or, in other words, from the history of the struggle between the modern subject and that which negates: death, nothingness, the absence of meaning and the deception of living.
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Preface

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… To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, that failure is his world and the shrink from it desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living.1

– Samuel Beckett

Art has no universal laws, though in each of its phases there certainly are objectively binding taboos. They radiate from canonical works. Their very existence defines what forthwith is no longer possible.2

– Theodor W. Adorno

The enigmaticalness of artworks remains bound up with history. It was through history that they became an enigma; it is history that ever and again makes them as such, and conversely, it is history alone – which gave them their authority – that holds at a distance the embarrassing question of their raison d’être.3

– Theodor W. Adorno

What is bad in artworks is a reflection that directs them externally, that forces them; where, however, they immanently want to go can only be followed by reflection, and the possibility to do this is spontaneous.4

– Theodor W. Adorno

In all likelihood, most of the readers and spectators of Beckett’s plays sentence themselves, perhaps willingly, to a permanent fascination with author’s face. In photographs, the author of Endgame seems to resemble one of the characters inhabiting his many works – with a sharp, penetrating look, his face is permanently furrowed with creases and with the passing of years, as Polish writer Andrzej Stasiuk observed, it increasingly resembled the inhuman shape of...

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