After the Final No: Samuel Beckett's Trilogy by Thomas Cousineau

By Thomas Cousineau

This examine explores the dialectic of destruction and renewal within the paintings that Samuel Beckett considered as his masterpiece: the trilogy of novels he wrote after global battle II. It translates the trilogy as proposing a subversive critique of the 3 idols -- mom, father, and self -- to which humanity has hunted for security and advice all through history.

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Example text

In fact it doesn’t matter whether or by how much Joyce might subscribe to any of 30 Richard Poirier Stephen’s theories, because what the structure of the book puts into question is the degree to which Stephen’s articulation of them can ever be less than embarrassing. Joseph Buttigieg is one of the critics who is especially perceptive about Stephen’s theorising in his recent A Portrait of the Artist in a Different Perspective, no affront intended by him to Hugh Kenner’s laudable essay of 1948, ‘The Portrait in Perspective’.

To give them their due would badly disrupt the chronologies and periodisations in which the various modernisms, including ‘paleo’ and ‘post’, briskly succeed one another. About such chronologies and periodisations Kermode was as sceptical in the mid-sixties, with the opening section of Continuities called ‘The Modern’, as he is now in the late eighties, with the chapter called ‘Canon and Period’ in History and Value. Revisions in favour of Pater and Emerson would mean, among other things, that Eliot’s version of modernism would be seen as you must, as in The Pater of Joyce and Eliot 27 the Conclusion of Pater’s The Renaissance (1984: 60), ‘burn always with this hard gemlike flame’.

At his best, however, he is impressively scrupulous about the negative and self-defeating possibilities in his own philosophy of art. In evidence there is, notably, ‘Sebastian Van Storck’, a story included in Imaginary Portraits of 1887 and published the year before in Macmillans. It is a powerful and disturbing work, unique on a number of counts. First, it is the only one of the Imaginary Portraits with a fictional rather than an historical or mythological hero, and though it does contain historical figures, including various Dutch painters of the seventeenth century and a cameo appearance by Spinoza, it is clear that in this instance Pater wants a form loose enough to allow a lot of personal intrusions and ruminations.

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