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Mingled Flesh

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Abstract:

All Strange Away, Imagination Dead Imagine, Ping, and The Lost Ones figure among the shorter prose fictions Samuel Beckett wrote in the 1960s. Critics have tended to approach this group of texts, which are linked not only in imagery but also through their textual genetics, as allegories of the human condition or as parables of the authorial process. Closer scrutiny of these works reveals that the prose fragments engage in a probing examination of the contradictory nature of perception and the embodied state of subjectivity. Through a systematic set of negations, marked by the abandonment of the first-person narrator, the privileging of gesture and posture over language and hearing and, most prominently, the prioritising of the sense of touch over that of vision, these works question and undermine the primacy of the conceptual order, foregrounding exteriority and surface over interiority and depth. The narrating voice itself, through its application of conflicting and ultimately self-negating registers, becomes the locus merely of further doubt and uncertainty. The same can even be said of the persistently failing mathematics of the narrator. In short, the systematic interrogations and negations in the texts set into motion a vacillating dynamic between subjectivity and its dissolution.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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