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“Miracles Of Frenzied Impotence”. Samuel Beckett’s Letters (1941-1956): Portrait Of ambivalence

Ciaran Ross


Dans cet article consacré au deuxième volume de la correspondance de Samuel Beckett (1941-1956), j’explore l’évolution du rapport qu’entretient Beckett avec lui-même et avec son écriture, un rapport fortement marqué par l’ambivalence et par l’intérêt croissant qu’il montre pour une esthétique ancrée sur la non-relation. J’interroge également le fonctionnement de sa posture publique en tant qu’auteur dit ‘impotent’ ou ‘diminué’.

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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en mai 2020.


“Getting oneself in perspective”
“Beneath an unforgettable sky”
‘The avalanche of one’s impossibility at every fragment of a moment’
‘To write is impossible but not yet impossible enough’
Commitment and revulsion: Beckett’s public posture of authorial diminishment

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Samuel Beckett’s growth as a writer had always been a perilous balancing act between endorsing negation as a principle of composition and fending off destructiveness. Even at the height of his fame, Beckett’s writing“that bitter folly” always left him with an incurable and irreducible feeling of frustration, disappointment and fundamental failure. As John Pilling outlines:

Nor could he ever rid himself of the knowledge that with every achievement (insofar as he could permit himself to think of it as such) went a sense of failure. Even with Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable and Waiting for Godot written, Beckett can be found, in the third of the Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit, saying: ‘There are many ways in which the thing I am trying in vain to say may be tried in vain to be said’.

Beckett’s second volume of letters for the 1941-1956 period, which will be the focus of this article, offers a much more nua...

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Référence électronique

Ciaran Ross, « “Miracles Of Frenzied Impotence”. Samuel Beckett’s Letters (1941-1956): Portrait Of ambivalence », Études irlandaises [En ligne], 43-1 | 2018, mis en ligne le 30 mai 2020, consulté le 21 avril 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesirlandaises.5444

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Ciaran Ross

Université de Strasbourg
Ciaran Ross has been Professor of English Literature at the University of Strasbourg since 1999. He holds a BA degree from National University of Ireland Maynooth and an M.Litt. degree from Trinity College Dublin. His doctoral thesis was devoted to the work of Samuel Beckett and he is the author of two books on Beckett: Aux frontières du vide : Beckett - Une écriture sans mémoire ni désir (Rodopi, 2004) and Beckett’s Art of Absence: Rethinking the Void (Palgrave, 2011). He is also the editor of Sub-Versions: Trans-National Readings of Modern Irish Literature (Rodopi, 2010).

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