New PDF release: Beckett, Literature and the Ethics of Alterity

By S. Weller

ISBN-10: 0230506062

ISBN-13: 9780230506060

ISBN-10: 1403995818

ISBN-13: 9781403995810

If there's one trait universal to nearly all post-Holocaust theories of literature, it truly is arguably the suggestion that the literary occasion constitutes the confirmation of an alterity that resists all dialectical mastery and makes attainable a post-metaphysical ethics. Beckett's oeuvre specifically has again and again been deployed as exemplary of simply such an confirmation. In Beckett, Literature and the Ethics of Alterity, in spite of the fact that, Weller argues via an research of the interrelated themes of translation, comedy, and gender that to learn Beckett during this manner is to overlook the surprisingly 'anethical' nature of his paintings.

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Extra resources for Beckett, Literature and the Ethics of Alterity

Sample text

Derrida’s deconstruction of Jakobson’s distinction between the intralingual, interlingual, and intersemiotic depends upon his successfully demonstrating that the integrity of any given language, of any intralingual space, is always already compromised. But even if one does not accept Derrida’s argument on the impossibility of linguistic self-identity, even if one remains unconvinced by his examples of undecidability (the word ‘Babel’ itself, or ‘he war’ in Finnegans Wake), it 33 34 Beckett, Literature, and the Ethics of Alterity seems evident that translation of some form (proper or not, ethical or not) is taking place not just between one language and another, not just between one sign system and another, but within any given language, not least one’s own, every time the principle ‘in other words’ governs what is being written or spoken.

He does not address the question of how one might Introduction 23 begin to distinguish between modern and postmodern literature – assuming this were possible – and the extent to which such a distinction would rely upon the notion of alterity, and of literature’s comportment towards it. Hillis Miller’s evasion of this question is understandable, for the definition of the postmodern in literature has remained a subject of unremitting contention. One of the earliest theorizations of a specifically postmodern literature – Hassan’s The Dismemberment of Orpheus – now appears in many respects distinctly modernist, not least in some of the examples it supplies of postmodern works, including Beckett.

The metaphysical concept of alterity is subjected to deconstruction by Derrida, but remains crucial to his thinking of the trace, of différance, and of literature in their irreducibility and their foreignness to all presentation, essentiality, and identity; beyond that, alterity remains at the very heart of his attempt to think an ethics of hospitality, grounded as that ethics is in the value of the other. The relationship between literature and an ethics of alterity is also at the centre of recent commentaries on the postmodern.

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Beckett, Literature and the Ethics of Alterity by S. Weller


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