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Posthuman Space in Samuel Beckett's Short Prose

Jonathan Boulter

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A reading of the philosophical idea of world as it relates to the posthuman subject in Beckett’s short prose

Jonathan Boulter offers the reader a way of understanding Beckett’s presentation of the human, more precisely, posthuman, subject in his short prose. These texts are notoriously difficult yet utterly compelling. This compelling difficulty arises from Beckett’s radical dismantling of the idea of the human. His short texts offer instead an image of a being who may be posthumous, or ultimately beyond categories of life and death. And yet, despite this dismantling, the narrators of these texts still find themselves placed within material, recognisable, spaces. This book explores what the idea of ‘world’ can mean to a subject who appears to have moved into a material, even ecological, space that is beyond categories of life and death, being and world.

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Series Editor’s Preface
Introduction: Beckett, Heidegger, the World

  1. Homelessness: The Expelled, The Calmative, The End
  2. The Poverty of World: Texts for Nothing
  3. Spaces of Ruin: All Strange Away, Imagination Dead Imagine, The Lost Ones, Ping, Lessness
  4. Space and Trauma: Fizzles
  5. Fables of Posthuman Space: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho

Conclusion: ‘neither’

About the Author

Jonathan Boulter is Professor of English at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of four previous books: Parables of the Posthuman: Digital Realities, Gaming, and the Player Experience (Wayne State UP, 2015), Melancholy and the Archive: Trauma, History and Memory in the Contemporary Novel (Continuum, 2011), Samuel Beckett: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum, 2008) and Interpreting Narrative in the Novels of Samuel Beckett (University Press of Florida, 2001).


Boulter’s compelling book shows that one needs Heidegger and Blanchot as well as Hayles and Haraway to make sense of the textual strategies deployed by Beckett when he creates a spectral subjectivity after the decomposition of the subject. Beckett’s shorter texts, powerfully and systematically read with Blanchot and Heidegger, usher in a post-humanism whose positive yield is a new ecology of space, a space without subjective positioning, a space carved out by relentless fables of destitution, homelessness and powerlessness, just to show what remains after one has lost the world.

- Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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