When Samuel Beckett first came to international prominence with the success of Waiting for Godot, many critics believed the play was divorced from any recognisable context. The two tramps, and the master and servant they encounter, seemed to represent no one and everyone. Today, critics challenge the assumption that Beckett aimed to break definitively with context, highlighting images, allusions and motifs that tether Beckett's writings to real people, places and issues in his life. This wide-ranging collection of essays from 37 renowned Beckett scholars reveals how extensively Beckett entered into dialogue with important literary traditions and the realities of his time. Drawing on his major works, as well as on a range of letters and theoretical notebooks, the essays are designed to complement each other, building a broad overview that will allow students and scholars to come away with a better sense of Beckett's life, writings and legacy.
Anthony Uhlmann is Professor of Literature and Director of the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of a number of books on Samuel Beckett including Beckett and Poststructuralism (1999) and Samuel Beckett and the Philosophical Image (2006).
Notes on contributors; Permissions and acknowledgements; Chronology; List of abbreviations; Introduction Anthony Uhlmann; Part I. Landscapes and Formation: 1. Childhood and Portora Russell Smith; 2. Dublin and environs John Pilling; 3. Trinity College Dublin S. E. Gontarski; 4. L'Ecole Normale Anthony Cordingley; 5. Paris, Roussillon, Ussy Jean-Michel Rabate; Part II. Social and Political Contexts: 6. Ireland: 1906-45 Patrick Bixby; 7. France: 1928-39 Garin Dowd; 8. England: 1933-6 Peter Marks; 9. Germany: c.1936-7 Mark Nixon; 10. France: World War Two Lois Gordon; 11. France, Europe, the world: 1945-62 Julian Murphet; Part III. Milieus and Movements: 12. Modernism: Dublin/Paris/London Paul Sheehan; 13. The Joyce circle Sam Slote; 14. Post-World War Two Paris Shane Weller; 15. Staging plays Anthony Uhlmann; 16. Working on radio Urlika Maude; 17. Working on film and television Graley Herren; Part IV. 'The Humanities I Had': Literature: 18. Irish literature Sean Kennedy; 19. English literature Mark Byron; 20. French literature Angela Moorjani; 21. Italian literature Daniela Caselli; Part V. 'The Humanities I Had': Arts: 22. Visual arts Nico Israel; 23. Music Catherine Laws; 24. Cinema Matthijs Engelberts; 25. Popular culture Jane Goodall; Part VI. 'The Humanities I Had': Systems of Knowledge and Belief: 26. Philosophy Matthew Feldman; 27. Psychology Laura Salisbury; 28. The Bible Chris Ackerley; 29. The occult Minako Okamuro; 30. Science and mathematics Hugh Culik; Part VII. Language and Form: 31. Language and representation Daniel Katz; 32. Self-translation Corinne Scheiner; 33. Theatre forms Enoch Brater; Part VIII. Reception and Remains: 34. Initial reception James Gourley; 35. Influence Michael D'Arcy; 36. Notebooks and other manuscripts Dirk Van Hulle; 37. Letters Lois Overbeck.