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Beckett Beyond the Normal$
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Seán Kennedy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474460460

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474460460.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 October 2021

‘no human shape’: Unformed Life in The Unnamable

‘no human shape’: Unformed Life in The Unnamable

(p.47) Chapter 3 ‘no human shape’: Unformed Life in The Unnamable
Beckett Beyond the Normal

Byron Heffer

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that Beckett’s antipathy to normative ideas of bodily and aesthetic form derives from his resistance to the Nazi politics of art. It utilises theories from disability studies and the work of Michel Foucault and Roberto Esposito to reconsider Beckett’s post-war aesthetic of deformation, framing it as a response to the inextricable connection between biopolitics and aesthetic form in the Third Reich. It offers a reading of The Unnamable that deviates from critical accounts that cast Beckett’s text as a redemptive moral critique of Nazi biopolitics. Beckett denies the reassuring conflation of degenerate artistry with passive, nonviolent exposure to Nazi violence. The degenerate artist, as figured in The Unnamable, is both victim and perpetrator in a closed circuit of biopolitical violence and aesthetic (de)formation.

Keywords:   Beckett, The Unnamable, Biopolitics, Esposito, Foucault, Nazism, Form

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