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The Aesthetics of Failure

Inexpressibility in Samuel Beckett’s Fiction

Author(s): Marcin Tereszewski

Book Description

Although Beckett scholarship has in recent decades experienced a renaissance as a result of various poststructuralist approaches that tend to emphasize destabilization and inexpressibility as the defining features of Beckett’s output, relatively little attention has been paid to the ethical aspects of his aesthetics of failure. This book fits into that renaissance, but draws on a distinct, though rarely addressed, connection that Samuel Beckett’s work shares with that of Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas. It is within this philosophical context that the significance of Beckett’s aesthetics of failure becomes most visible.

Beckett’s work can be described as one of gradual reduction and disintegration of language, a stripping away of the tools rendering expression at all possible for the sake of approaching the inexpressible. Traditional representation yields to silence and linguistic aporia; language yields to images of absence and emptiness. The primary purpose of this study is to trace this movement of ‘unwording’ and analyze the role inexpressibility plays in Beckett’s prose in its visual, linguistic and ethical manifestations, as the aesthetics of inexpressibility is intrinsically bound with the ethical responsibility of literature understood as maintaining a relation with alterity.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5043-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5043-8
Date of Publication: 01/10/2013
Pages / Size: 105 / A5
Price: £39.99


Marcin Tereszewski works at the Department of English, University of Wrocław, Poland, where he specializes in literature and literary theory. He has published articles on various aspects of Samuel Beckett’s work in relation to postmodern thought.