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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 11 - Beckett’s Disabled Language

from III - New Hermeneutic Codes


My wound existed before me,” wrote poet Joë Bousquet: “I was born to embody it.” Bousquet was injured by a bullet in 1918 and he lived with paraplegia and the pain it caused him until 1950, composing poems infused with opiated imagery. Samuel Beckett never had a similarly life-changing wound, though he experienced considerable ill health and a serious injury. Still, there remains an uncanny sense that he too found in the crevices of physical and mental suffering, and then in the frailties that came at the end of his long life, flashes of linguistic possibility for which his writing had always been searching. In late life, Beckett struck up a friendship with writer Lawrence Shainberg, who was exploring neurological dysfunction in his work.

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