Abstract

Is Samuel Beckett committed to nihilism? This essay explores the question in an interpretation of his late short story The Lost Ones, taking as reference point Nietzsche’s conception of nihilism as a diagnosis of our modern age. I argue that, exceptionally, in this one story, Beckett does imagine, in the Nazi genocide, a situation of the most extreme nihilism. It is his way of keeping the Holocaust in remembrance. Bearing witness to evil is, for him, the inescapable responsibility of the storyteller. However, except for this story, Beckett’s stories always bear prophetic traces and echoes of something hopeful, open to redemptive possibilities. Although Beckett is not “committed” to nihilism, in this story, as unique as the Holocaust itself, nothingness, the ultimate truth of nihilism, reigns. For here Beckett leaves us with nothing but images of a struggle with death.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. A212-A233
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-23
Open Access
No
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