Pim Verhulst
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Beckett’s ‘adaphatroce’ revisited
Towards a poetics of adaptation
in Beckett’s afterlives
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This chapter re-examines Beckett’s 1950s coining of the terms ‘adaphatroce’, which could best be paraphrased as ‘dreadful’ or ‘atrocious adaptation’, to argue that it does not signify a wholesale rejection of creative responses to his work but rather constitutes the starting point of a gradual embrace, at least an acceptance or recognition of the phenomenon as a powerful cultural force. By critically assessing his comments on the matter as they appear in published letters from the 1950s to the 1980s, touching upon various genres and media, the chapter attempts to reconstruct Beckett’s implicit ‘poetics’ of adaptation and illustrate how it aligns with key notions such as self-translation, self-directing, intertextuality and intermediality, which now have come to be recognised as central to his creative practice. Starting with an overview of adaptations that Beckett was himself involved in, the account moves on to creative reworkings he merely authorised or denied, to end with a reflection on how his perception of his own authority over his own work had changed as a result. In doing so, the chapter makes the ongoing (re-)historicising of Beckett, partly through archival research, an important precondition, not only for a better understanding of his own views on adaptation but also to keep his work vibrant in a twenty-first-century context.

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Beckett’s afterlives

Adaptation, remediation, appropriation


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