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Beckett Matters

Essays on Beckett's Late Modernism

S.E. Gontarski

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Collects Stan Gontarski’s finest essays on the work of Samuel Beckett over a forty-year period

Representing a profound engagement with the work of Samuel Beckett, this volume gathers the very best of Stan Gontarski’s Beckett criticism on practical, theoretical and critical levels. Such a range suggests a multiplicity of approaches to a body of work itself multiple, produced by an artist who underwent any number of transformations and reinventions over his long writing career. Many of the essays collected here explore Beckett’s debt to his age, Beckett very much a product of a culture in transition, which change he would help foster. But much of Beckett’s creative struggle was to find a new way, his own way. Most of the essays that comprise this volume detail that struggle, toward a way we now call Beckettian.

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Remains of the Modern: The Exhaustion of Thematics
Part I: Theory Matters
1. Beckett’s Voice(s)
2. From Unabandoned Works: Beckett’s Short Prose
3. The Conjuring of Something Out of Nothing: Beckett’s ‘Closed Space’ Novels
4. Beckett’s “Imbedded” Poetry and the Critique of Genre
5. Art and Commodity: Beckett’s Commerce with Grove Press
Part II: Texts Matter
6. Editing Beckett
7. A Century of Missed Opportunities: Editing an Accurate Editions of Samuel Beckett’s “Shorts” and other Textual Misadventures
8. Still at Issue after All These Years: The Beckettian Text, Printed and Performed
Part III: Performance Matters
9. ‘That’s the Show’: Beckett and Performance
10. Reinventing Beckett
11. Staging Beckett: Voice and/in Performance, Company, What Where, and Endgame
12. Samuel Beckett and the ‘Idea’ of Theatre: Performance through Artaud and Deleuze
13. Greying the Canon: Beckett in Performance, Beckett as Performing
14. ‘I think this does call for a firm stand’: Beckett at the Royal Court.

About the Author

S. E. Gontarski is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, Ph.D., Ohio State (1974) and specializes in twentieth-century Irish Studies, in British, U.S., and European Modernism, and in performance theory. He has been awarded four National Endowment for the Humanities research grants, has twice been awarded Fulbright Professorships, has been Guest Editor of the following: American Book Review, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and Modern Fiction Studies and most recently Drammaturgia. He is also General Editor of three book series: 1) "Crosscurrents: Comparative Studies in European Literature and Philosophy" with the University Press of Florida and 2) Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance with Anthem Press, London; and 3) (with Paul Ardoin and Laci Mattison) Understanding Philosophy / Understanding Modernism with Bloomsbury. He edited the Journal of Beckett Studies from 1989-2008, and currently serves as Co-Editor with its publication by Edinburgh University Press.


Spanning a period of two decades, this captivating collection of essays displays the impressive range of S. E. Gontarski’s erudition and of his accomplishments as one of the world’s leading Beckett scholars. Experienced in fields ranging from textual scholarship to performance studies, and informed by a wide array of literary theories, he not only scrutinizes the full generic scope of Beckett’s works, but also constantly keeps his finger on the pulse of critical trends that have shaped Beckett studies into what they are today.

- Dirk Van Hulle, University of Antwerp
Beckett Matters is testimony to a lifetime of work and criticism, providing an engaging collection and an excellent resource to any researcher or student within the ever-flourishing and evolving field of Beckett studies.
- Rosie Barron, Journal of Beckett Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1

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