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Creative Involution

Bergson, Beckett, Deleuze

S.E. Gontarski

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An original philosophical approach to one of the 20th century’s most important literary figures

Creative Involution: Bergson, Beckett Deleuze focuses on a force, on a philosophical trajectory that not only had a profound impact on critical thought of the 20th and now 21st centuries, but on cosmopolitan, contemporary culture more broadly and on artistic experiment and expression in particular.

It explores how the work of Samuel Beckett intersects with such preoccupations of time as a "double headed monster," of memory and multiplicity, of being and becoming that continue in an involutionary turn through the work of Gilles Deleuze.

Key Features

  • Deploys new critical approaches (e.g., a return to Bergson and Bergsonism)
  • Addresses underexplored works in the Beckett canon
  • Presents new critiques of representation and Beckett’s relationship to philosophy
  • Attentive to critical thinking around affect theory and/in literature.


I: “All the dead voices”: A Preface
II: “A Mixed Choir” from The Ditch of Astonishment: An Introduction
III: The Invention of the Modern: A Symbiotic Remapping
Chapter IV: “Thought thinks in its own right”: A. A. Luce, Samuel Beckett, and Bergson’s Doctrine of Failure
V: Towards a Creative Involution and Transcendental Empiricism
VI: “What it is to have been”: Movement, Multiplicity, and Representation
VII: A Theatre of Deterritorialization and The Questions We Ask
VIII: Beyond the Shadow: Acts of Unceasing Creation
IX: Becoming Degree Zero: Authors Vanishing into the Zone of Imperceptibility

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.


A book on Beckett and Bergson is long overdue. Creative Involution offers a new and exciting angle that is of crucial importance to the understanding of the author's work. This groundbreaking monograph is a notable contribution to Beckett studies.

- Dr Ulrika Maude, University of Bristol

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