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Continuing the investigations of Beckett’s posthumously published first novel Dream of Fair to Middling Women begun in the previous chapter, the third chapter probes in greater detail the family resemblances (in the Wittgensteinian sense) between Dream’s creative asylum and space of writing in the mind and Schopenhaurian Buddhist-infused philosophy and Christian mystical thought. Further examined, beginning with his first novel, are the forerunners of Beckett’s aesthetics of emptiness and creation from nothing. The chapter’s discussion of the 1933 short story ‘Echo’s Bones’, posthumously published in 2014 and the final story about the author's fictional persona Belacqua, uncovers the Buddhist allusions kept out of sight by the story’s burlesque drift. In contrast, the reading of Murphy in this chapter counters some early commentators’ Buddhist analysis of Beckett’s second novel. This chapter concludes the investigation of Beckett’s fiction of the 1930s in relation to Schopenhauer’s relay of Eastern thought.
Nothing is more characteristic of Cormac McCarthy’s literary style than what Richard Woodward has called the “biblical gravity” of his prose. While references to the Bible abound in McCarthy’s work, it is the archaic vocabulary, powerful cadence, formal and thematic repetitions, and above all the paratactic syntax of McCarthy’s style inspired by the King James Bible that provide the closest link between his fiction and the Judeo-Christian tradition. This chapter examines the convergence of religion and aesthetics in McCarthy’s work as well as the function of a biblical narrative style in the fully administered world of contemporary society. Through readings of McCarthy’s essay “The Kekulé Problem” (2017), the importance of Christian mysticism to his work, and his peculiar association with the Santa Fe Institute, the chapter shows how McCarthy’s fiction draws on the Judeo-Christian tradition in order to produce a sense of mystery in the disenchanted world of modernity. At the same time, this production of mystery entails a mystification of literature that the chapter places in the postwar literary context in which McCarthy began his writing career.
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