Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 July 2021
The three sections of Chapter 7 explore (1) the collapse of the birth and death contraries; (2) the rebirth topos; and (3) the Buddhist doctrine of the unborn. The first section concentrates on A Piece of Monologue of the late 1970s, noting its allusions to cycles of rebirth and scenes of wall gazing and repeated evocations of a ‘beyond’ resonating with Schopenhauerian will-lessness and Buddhist scriptures. In the second section, probing the drama of rebirth throughout Beckett’s writings, allusions to a Schopenhauerian hellish existence are linked to parallels between Dantean and Buddhist conceptions of hell and purgatory. In contrast, Ill Seen Ill Said’s last pages are seen to allude to an end to rebirth in a coming home to the void via detachment from illusion. This chapter’s third and longest section concerns the convergence of the Beckettian theme of unbornness with the Buddhist doctrine of an original and immanent state of mind beyond birth and death.