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Book Reviews include its accessible discussion of complex ideas, its fair-minded treatment of each side of a given issue, its many original insights into the nature of postmodemity, and its complete mastery of an impressive bibliography of French thought. Concluding optimistically that French ideas will play a vital role in "the reconstruction of 'the human' beyond the Enlightenment" Facing Postmodernity is an indispensable source for anyone interested in contemporary France and postmodernism . Michael F. Leruth The College of William & Mary Evelyne Grossman. L'Esthétique de Beckett. Paris: SEDES, 1998. Pp. 219. Anthony Uhlmann. Beckett and Poststructuralism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. Pp. ix + 202. $59.95. Reading L'Esthétique de Beckett and Beckett and Poststructuralism together, I felt that the two books converge in the movement of oscillation expressed by Beckett's work. While Grossman 's book reveals an aesthetics of oscillation in Beckett, Uhlmann's book indicates the possibility of an oscillating critique. In uie "ultimate Beckettian dream," according to Grossman, the book is death's double: "Le corps-livre est Ie double d'un cadavre, une œuvre d'art où triomphe une mort vivante." For Beckett , a book or a work of art is not an image of a true life or representation of a true reality, but a double of the already dead, of Uie corpse, of the ghost. L'Esthétique de Beckett shows how Beckett reaches uiis aesthetic dream of the book as "Ie double d'un cadavre." Covering tiie full range of Beckett's work ("du livre-réceptacle des fragments de culture et de langue, sur le modèle joycien, au livre comme procès de décomposition, puis au livre-tombeau, imperceptible érosion où s'agite, au cœur des ruines, l'éternelle vitalité des lettres-corpuscules"), Grossman's book guides the reader though the evolution of Beckett's aesthetics in a thoughtful and well-balanced manner. It does not merely present the abstract principles of Beckett's aesthetics, but—by incorporating biographical material and other critical readings , as well as quotations from Beckett's own work—it beautifully delineates the relation between his aesthetics and concrete aspects of his life, the turning points in his œuvre, the works of other writers and artists. The supplementary material, which consists of excerpts from Beckett 's theoretical work, poetry, fiction, and plays, is also a great help for the reader. Grossman demonstrates convincingly that Beckett can be situated with explorers of evil and horror like Bataille, Céline, Sade and Artaud. She observes that what underlies Beckett's aesthetics is a fascination with death and the decomposition of the corpse; in other words, Uie necessity that deaui's power be transfigured or sublimated in a work. For instance, discussing the relation between Proust and Beckett in terms of die oxymoron "l'œuvre en ruine," she depicts the essence of Beckett's writing as follows: "transfigurer pour l'éternité la puissance ravageante de la mort, en faisant du déchet, du débris, de la miette de mémoire, une œuvre d'art." The work is the process of trans-figuration or trans-lation. It transforms abject or terrifying being into the sublimated object, into eternal beauty. Here eternity does not point to the promise of redemption, but means the obligatory continuation of "l'étemel va-et-vient." Grossman also makes us aware that uiis process involves the eroticization of an object that oscillates between visible and invisible, covering and uncovering. Beckett's aesthetics reveals itself only in the realm of "entre-deux," in the oscillating movement, in the tension between conflicting forces. It is the realm where one confronts the horror of birth in death. In Beckett and Poststructuralism, the oscillating movement of Beckett's work is brought forward as a critique. Uhlmann shows how literature might be seen, just as much as philosophy, to "offer a penetrating and illuminating way of thinking about the world." This work revises die conVOL . XLI, NO. 1 99 L'Esprit Créateur ventional view of Beckett's work as apolitical, asserting the importance of reading it from political and ethical points of view. Uhlmann tries to situate Beckett's Trilogy, Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 99-100
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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