The Work of Poverty
Samuel Beckett’s Vagabonds and the Theater of Crisis
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Ohio State University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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List of Illustrations
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Introduction: Begging Context
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This book is about Samuel Beckett’s destitute art. Though his body of work seems to offer audiences very little by way of lesson or entertainment, it nevertheless has an unusual performance history within settings of realworld crisis. In landscapes of ruin, Waiting for Godot emerges unexpectedly and Beckett’s impoverished aesthetic begins to resonate. A focus on poverty...
1. Godot behind Bars
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Martin Esslin begins The Theatre of the Absurd, his landmark study of avantgarde drama, with the performance of Waiting for Godot at San Quentin State Prison in 1957. He asks, “Why did a play of the supposedly esoteric avant-garde make so immediate and deep an impact on an audience of convicts...
2. Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo and New Orleans
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Shakespeare’s observation that “all the world’s a stage” turns unremarkable and everyday reality into space of dramatic potential. The stage gives the world its shape, its value, and its possibility. Yet in what moments does the world begin to resemble Beckett’s stage? When does the world...
3. La Pensee Vagabonde: Vagabond Thought
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The first two chapters explored Beckett’s aesthetic of poverty as public performance and how Waiting for Godot becomes an echo chamber for the powerlessness, need, and inconsolable waiting beyond the stage. This chapter turns inward to the private crisis of Beckett’s characters. Beckett’s figure of private crisis is the vagabond who speaks in interior monologue whose...
4. Textual Indigence: The Reader in an Aesthetics of Poverty
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Critics widely observe that Beckett’s work, characterized by broken syntax and a dearth of discernible narrative structure, verges on the unreadable.2 Much of Beckett criticism tries to deal with this problem. The best criticism of Beckett makes a paradox of this, taking the view that the reader’s difficulty...
Afterword: Staging Godot in Zuccotti Park
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The transition from diagnosis (critical reading) of Beckett to prognosis (seeing Beckett in the world) is obstructed by a persistent Beckettian agnosis, an indifference to ideas and knowledge. Marcel Proust compares À la Recherche du temps perdu to a telescope that enables readers to bring into focus the...
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Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 7 photos
Publication Year: 2013