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Samuel Beckett's How It IsPhilosophy in Translation$
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Anthony Cordingley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440608

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440608.001.0001

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Pythagorean Mysticism/Democritean Wisdom

Pythagorean Mysticism/Democritean Wisdom

(p.44) 2 Pythagorean Mysticism/Democritean Wisdom
Samuel Beckett's How It Is

Anthony Cordingley

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter elucidates the dialectic between Pythagorean-Platonic and Democritean ideas latent in the text. It measures the importance of Beckett’s perception of philosophy gained through his study of Wilhelm Windelband’s A History of Philosophy. Unearthing Beckett’s reaction to the nineteenth-century Kantian’s grand narrative of the progress of reason, this chapter maps out the poetics of appropriation that marks Beckett's quintessentially late modernist aesthetics. In no way can Beckett’s poetics edify the Tradition (à la Pound or Eliot), but neither can it simply deny, subvert, or pastiche it. To ask whether or not Beckett escapes into nihilism, to wonder if he finds a philosophically satisfactory solution to his rejection of a faith in reason, or to look for his synthesis of the Ancient dialectic he entertains is in each case to miss the point. Beckett's use of allusive discourse is demonstrated to be a vector through which he explores the mechanisms of listening and memory, creativity and imagination. This chapter therefore begins this book’s investigation of Beckett’s use of philosophy that defines his aesthetics as a limit point of modernism.

Keywords:   Samuel Beckett, Philosophy, Intertextuality, Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Heraclitus, Mathematics, Atomism, Wilhelm Windelband

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