In this chapter, Yoshiki Tajiri focuses on the connection between trauma and everyday life: a traumatised subject needs to come to terms with everyday life and can find ordinary objects in it unexpectedly significant. By discussing such aspects of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, this chapter will illuminate the ways in which trauma and ordinary life are correlated rather than opposed. It also demonstrates that trauma theory and everyday life studies can stimulate each other: trauma is far from an everyday phenomenon, but it can shed light on the nature of everyday life after calamities of modernity as in the cases of Woolf and Beckett; conversely, there may be ways of enriching trauma studies by incorporating reflections on everyday life.
Samuel Beckett and trauma is a collection of essays that opens new approaches to Beckett’s literary and theoretical work through the lens of trauma studies. Beginning with biographical and intertextual readings of instances of trauma in Beckett’s works, the essays take up performance studies, philosophical and cultural understanding of post-traumatic subjectivity, and provide new perspectives that will expand and alter current trauma studies. Chapter 1 deals with a whole range of traumatic symptoms in Beckett’s personal experiences which find their ways into a number of his works. Chapter 2 investigates traumatic symptoms experienced by actors on stage. Chapter 3 examines the problem of unspeakability by focusing on the face which illuminates the interface between Beckett’s work and trauma theory. Chapter 4 explores the relationship between trauma and skin – a psychic skin that reveals the ‘force and truth’ of trauma, a force that disrupts the apparatus of representation. Chapter 5 considers trauma caused by a bodily defect such as tinnitus. Chapter 6 focuses on the historically specific psychological structure in which a wounded subject is compelled to stick to ordinary life in the aftermath of some traumatic calamity. Chapter 7 provides a new way of looking at birth trauma by using the term as ‘creaturely life’ that is seen in the recent biopolitical discourses. Chapter 8 speculates on how Beckett’s post-war plays, responding to the nuclear age’s global trauma, resonate with ethical and philosophical thoughts of today’s post-Cold War era.