Beckett's Manywheres

Jason Finch

Abstract


Linguistic accounts of indexicality, ecocriticism and the place philosophy of Jeff Malpas could all be used in getting closer to a locational or literary geographic understanding of Beckett’s fiction and drama. Malpas considers human being to be fundamentally placed and also to be grounded by its happening in different actual places. This article is an experiment assessing what happens when such a view is applied to Beckett. Beckett’s writing often seems an epitome of anti-place or no-place literature, as exemplified by the stage directions at the beginnings of his post-war plays. Murphy (1938) is by contrast very specifically located in particular districts of London identified by toponyms, with the city as a whole in this novel functioning in the manner of a game board. Readings of Murphy have identified an opposition between a big world of maps and place names and a little world within a room or a person’s head, but the relationship between big and little could be reinterpreted using a poetics of scale in which they are related to one another on a scale. The seemingly placeless Endgame is in fact radically multiple in locational terms, containing many layers, in a way that contrasts with ‘realist’ fiction contemporary with it. The locational complexities of Beckett’s writing help ‘realist’ fiction’s geographic aspects to be understood, rather than standing in any absolute opposition with that sort of writing.


Keywords


Beckett, Samuel; Murphy; place; location; London, literature of; literary geographies

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References


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