The idea of the image, its nature and its power, both with regard to perception per se and perception and apprehension through art, was of key importance to early twentieth-century modernism, and the aesthetic understandings developed by many major English-language writers. The importance of Bergson and his aesthetic theories, which include his theories of the image, is now, after a fairly long eclipse, again being recognised. In part, this study adds to the work of underlining the importance of this recognition.
Yet, through the new impetus and the altered direction given to Bergsonian ideas by the work of Gilles Deleuze, the idea of the image has begun to re-emerge as a key concept in contemporary theories of aesthetics. Deleuze has outlined certain problems which remain pressing in the field of aesthetics, and many of these relate to his understandings of the image, which, while passing through Bergson, are no longer Bergsonian, no longer ‘modernist’ understandings, but again contemporary. In part, then, this study also contributes to the process of seeking to understand the relevance of the image to contemporary theories of aesthetics.
So too, while his aesthetic understandings were clearly informed by modernism, and the Bergsonian ideas which strongly inflected English-language modernist writing, Beckett has developed the idea of the image more fully than any other writer. That is, he emerged from the modernist moment, bringing key aesthetic assumptions from modernism with him, but he also developed his own practice beyond that moment.