At first glance, Samuel Beckett's writing-where scenes of violence and cruelty often provide the occasion for an unremittingly bleak comedy-would seem to offer the reader few examples of ethical conduct. However, following the recent "ethical turn" in critical theory, there has been growing interest in the ethicality of Beckett's work. Following Alain Badiou's highly influential claim for Beckett as essentially an ethical thinker, it is time to ask: What is the relation between Beckett's work and the ethical? Is Beckett's work profoundly ethical in its implications, as both humanist and deconstructionist readings have insisted in their different ways? Or does Beckett's work in some way call into question the entire notion of the ethical?
This provocative collection of essays seeks to map out this emerging debate in Beckett criticism. It will be a landmark contribution to an exciting new field, not only in Beckett Studies, but in literary studies and critical theory more broadly.
About the Author
Russell Smith is Lecturer in English at the Australian National University, Australia.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Russell Smith 1.‘We have our being in justice': Critical Theory, Abstraction and Beckett's ‘Ethics', David Cunningham (University of Westminster) 2. A ‘suitable engine of destruction'? Samuel Beckett and Arnold Geulincx's Ethics, Matthew Feldman (University of Northampton) 3. Withholding Assent: Beckett in the light of Stoic Ethics, Anthony Uhlmann (University of Western Sydney) 4. Post-war Beckett: Resistance, Commitment or Communist Krap?, Jackie Blackman (Trinity College Dublin) 5. A World without Monsters: Beckett and the Ethics of Cruelty, Paul Sheehan (Macquarie University, Sydney) 6. The Anethics of Desire: Beckett, Racine, Sade, Shane Weller (University of Kent) 7. ‘So Fluctuant a Death': Entropy and Survival in The Lost Ones and Long Observation of the Ray, David Houston Jones (University of Exeter) 8. Beckett and the World, Steven Connor (Birkbeck College)9. From Joyce to Beckett: From National to Global, Peter Boxall (University of Sussex) 10. ‘Throw up for good': Gagging, Compulsion and a Comedy of Ethics in the Trilogy, Laura Salisbury (Birkbeck College) Index