Monash University
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‘One Loses One’s Classics’: Samuel Beckett and the Counter-canonical Use of Canon

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-23, 10:22 authored by Arka Chattopadhyay
This article seeks to examine Samuel Beckett’s subversive and countercanonical use of the canonical literary intertext by studying some of the diverse instances of his variable, playful and deliberately erroneous citations from early to late works, cutting across genres and media. I want to contextualize this discussion with Harold Bloom and Maurice Blanchot’s mutually contesting claims about Beckett as a preserver of the literary high canon or as a counter-canonical writer. I would argue for a trajectory in the Beckett
canon where the references gradually disappear from the textual surface into the depths of speech itself, which is increasingly perceived as a ventriloquist’s conjuring of Other’s words and voices. If this internalisation marks the inter-subjective nature of the field of speech, taking my departure from this point I will read Blanchot’s favourite Beckett text How It Is and highlight the way it subverts the canonicity of knowledge formation and its disciplinary inculcation. This approach involves a deepening of Beckett’s
complex relation with the intertextual practice of citation as the author challenges the fundamental property at the heart of citation i.e. knowledge in its always already canonised status.


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