Samuel Beckett and the Postmodern Loss of Place

  • Eric Prieto


It might seem odd to enter into the study of literary representations of place with a chapter on Beckett, since so many of his most memorable fictions are set in almost abstract, unlocalizable spaces. Studies like Eoin O’Brien’s pictorial The Beckett Country (1996) or Mary Junker’s Beckett: The Irish Dimension (1995) discern a hidden referential dimension in Beckett’s landscape descriptions but do little to dispel our doubts about how relevant such links might be for getting at the deeper significance of his works.1 The meaning of Beckett’s mature works depends to such an enormous degree on the preservation of ambiguity and the resistance to specificity of any kind that the search for a geographical or cultural “key” to the places in Beckett’s fictions would seem to be a kind of curatorial pastime. There are exceptions to the rule (e.g., All That Fall), but most readers would have no trouble agreeing with Jean-Paul Riquelme’s assertion that Beckett’s mature style becomes increasingly “anti-locative” (Riquelme 543). To the extent that Beckett’s work does address questions of place, it seems closer to the kind of poststructuralist deconstruction of place that will be studied in Chapter 3 than to the phenomenological approach studied in the previous chapter. This does not mean, however, that Beckett lost interest in place as a category of human experience. On the contrary, his increasingly daring deconstructions of place are motivated by a growing recognition of its tenacity as a category of human experience.


Situational Knowledge Abstract Space Memory Image Closed Place Pure Figment 
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© Eric Prieto 2012

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  • Eric Prieto

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