Beckett's Words: The Promise of Happiness in a Time of by David Kleinberg-Levin

By David Kleinberg-Levin

At stake during this booklet is a fight with language in a time whilst our outdated religion within the redeeming of the word-and the word's strength to redeem-has nearly been destroyed. Drawing on Benjamin's political theology, his interpretation of the German Baroque mourning play, and Adorno's serious aesthetic thought, but additionally at the considered poets and lots of different philosophers, particularly Hegel's phenomenology of spirit, Nietzsche's research of nihilism, and Derrida's writings on language, Kleinberg-Levin indicates how, as a result of its communicative and revelatory powers, language bears the utopian "promise of happiness," the assumption of an earthly redemption of humanity, on the very middle of which has to be the fulfillment of common justice. In an unique analyzing of Beckett's performs, novels and brief tales, Kleinberg-Levin exhibits how, regardless of inheriting a language broken, corrupted and commodified, Beckett redeems useless or demise phrases and wrests from this language new chances for the expression of which means. with no denying Beckett's nihilism, his photograph of a appreciably disappointed international, Kleinberg-Levin calls recognition to moments whilst his phrases unexpectedly ignite and separate from in their melancholy and discomfort, taking form within the fantastic thing about an austere but joyous lyricism, suggesting that, finally, that means continues to be attainable.

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99 Beckett’s stories and plays do not preach, do not prescribe; they present powerfully engaging interpretations of our world and leave it for us to draw out the ethical, moral, and political implications. They show us to ourselves; yet the intelligibility and truth they claim cannot fit the traditional requirements for realism in representation. ”100 In showing us how life endures in “our world,” in bearing witness to “our situation,” Beckett’s works provoke us to think and question, putting us in touch with disavowed emotions and abandoned dreams and PROLOGUE 29 hopes—and perhaps setting in motion the redemption of the promise for which he thinks our words have been secretly longing.

From poets and fiction writers of the last decades of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, Beckett inherited a compelling sense that the old ways of representing reality and giving expression to experience could no longer claim authenticity. Events had exposed the literary forms of the past to a reality the experience of which they were unable to express or represent with any degree of credibility, validity, and legitimacy. Eventually, by the time the First World War had ended, the recognition of this situation constituted for many artists something like a compelling sense of existential urgency and crisis, and it involved calling into question both the content and the form of representation; hence, for many writers, the problematic nature of language could not be ignored, and new ways to express what people were experiencing had to be invented.

Moreover, very much like Beckett, the words he felt he needed in order to communicate the experience of failure failed to come. His sense of loss could not have been greater. ”132 This failure is the theme of “The Word,” a poem by Stefan George that first appeared in 1919. In 1928, it was published in a book of verse bearing the title Das Neue Reich. The poem, just seven short strophes, ends with these words: So lernt ich traurig den verzicht: Kein ding sei wo das wort gebricht. ”135 The Chandos “Letter” confirms that interpretation in the surprise of a dialectical oscillation, pressured by despair and melancholy, that shows us words seemingly too weak to bring into the world even a glimmer of redemption somehow able, nevertheless, to continue bearing the eternity of the promise.

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