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Chapter 4 - Beckett’s Paradoxical Logic through Buddhist and Western Lenses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2021

Angela Moorjani
Affiliation:
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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Summary

With the fourth chapter, the focus pivots from the introductory investigation of the major Buddhist and mystic concepts Beckett secreted into his early fictions to engage with the paradoxical, aporetic (insoluable), and apophatic (negative) procedures of his early and subsequent writing and their disorienting effects on audiences. The chapter begins with examining Beckett’s involvement with what he himself qualified as the Buddha’s folle sagesse (mad wisdom) (Disjecta 146). Further, interrogating Mādhyamika philosopher Nāgārjuna’s paradoxical logic serves to examine Beckett’s similar challenges to the principles of noncontradiction. Introducing the Mādhyamika view of language as a veil that prevents experiencing śūnyatā, or emptiness, the chapter’s second section reexamines Beckett’s proposed ‘literature of the unword’ and the controversy raging about the role of Fritz Mauthner’s Indian-tinged nominalist critique in this view. Beckett’s commonalities with the French literature of silence of the 1940s and an exploration of Beckett’s paradoxical ethics of emptiness bring this chapter to an end.

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Beckett and Buddhism , pp. 88 - 115
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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