Smiling tigers
Trauma, sexuality and creaturely life in Echo’s Bones
in Samuel Beckett and trauma
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In analysing ‘Sanies I’ and ‘Serena II’ meticulously, with special attention to the animal imagery, Conor Carville in this chapter links Otto Rank’s theory of the trauma of birth with Eric Santner’s recent idea of ‘creaturely life’ – the life that is exposed to biopolitical power at moments of trauma. Trauma is here considered as constitutive of the subject, not an exceptional phenomenon, and also as providing the raw material for biopolitical power. In the process of Carville’s analyses emerge hitherto uncharted networks concerning Beckett’s fixation on the trauma of birth and the contemporary biopolitical concerns with birth, reproduction and population in Ireland and Britain. Carville’s article not only provides original close readings of those difficult poems in the light of Rank but also illustrates how a highly personal unease about sexual identity caused by birth trauma can be connected to the biopolitical discourses by the use of Santner’s idea of ‘creaturely life’ that itself draws on the ideas of Benjamin, Foucault, Lacan, Agamben and other theorists.

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