Enoch Brater
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The no-thing that knows no name and the Beckett envelope, blissfully reconsidered

With so many parallels to Dada composition, echoes of James Joyce, and resonances to the 'midget grammar' of Gertrude Stein, it has always been difficult to know where to place Samuel Beckett on the great modernist/postmodernist divide. Somewhere beyond minimalism, his work explores the vast terrain that separates nothing from nothingness, and both from the far more intriguing nothing in particular. Richard Begam describes how Beckett's fiction anticipates many of the defining themes and ideas of Barthes, Foucault and Derrida in moving us toward 'the end of modernity'. In the early 1970s 'The empty can' proposed looking elsewhere, outside of literature perhaps, for the appropriate artistic climate of spontaneity that seemed so central to Beckett's relentless 'work-inregress'. The void never looked quite so promising before, especially so for a young scholar who was beginning to find his way through so much 'mental thuggee'.

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Beckett and nothing

Trying to understand Beckett



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