Tracing 'a literary fantasia': Arnold Geulincx in the works of Samuel Beckett

Tucker, David (2010) Tracing 'a literary fantasia': Arnold Geulincx in the works of Samuel Beckett. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis investigates Beckett’s interests in the seventeenth-century philosopher
Arnold Geulincx, tracing these interests first back to primary sources in Beckett’s own
notes and correspondence, and then forward through his oeuvre. This first full-length
study of the occasionalist philosopher in Beckett’s works reveals Geulincx as closely
bound, in changeable and subtle ways, to Beckett’s altering compositional
methodologies and aesthetic foci. It argues that multifaceted attentiveness to the
different ways in which Geulincx is alluded to or explicitly cited in different works is
required if the extent of Geulincx’ importance across Beckett’s oeuvre is to be
properly understood.

Chapter 1 presents a lineage of correspondence dating from 1936 to 1967 in which
Beckett cites or alludes to Geulincx. It introduces Geulincx’ occasionalism and
Beckett’s transcriptions from his works. Chapter 2 builds upon this empirical
groundwork by arguing for a proposed chronology of Murphy’s composition. This
focuses Geulincx’ importance to Murphy as a frame of reference located
predominantly in the novel’s latter stages. Chapter 3 investigates Geulincx’ explicit
presence in manuscript drafts of Watt. It argues that this particular presence is refined
out of the novel’s final stages at the same time as it is thematised. Chapter 4 focuses in
on a specific paragraph that cites Geulincx in La Fin/The End and Suite. The different
versions of this paragraph stage a number of textual manoeuvres in revisions and
translation that are revealing about Beckett’s attitude towards Geulincx as a source.
Chapter 5 traces the consequences of this aesthetic attitude through imagery derived
from Geulincx in Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, this latter as a novel that
seeks to enact certain of Geulincx’ ethical principles as narrative voice. The final
chapter argues that there are highly refined and abstracted reappearances of Geulincx
to be located in How It Is and in the television plays as a reinvigorated fascination
with puppetry that also owes a debt to Beckett’s reading Heinrich von Kleist.

While Geulincx has long been thought of as a fleeting presence in Beckett’s oeuvre,
this full-length study finds that the philosopher’s altering and recurring presences
bear closer scrutiny. Geulincx’ presences are more deeply embedded in Beckett’s
work than previously noted by critics, and in this they frequently reflect Beckett’s
broader changing aesthetic concerns as Beckett developed what he called his ‘series’
of works.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2011 13:39
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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