publisher colophon
  • The Merry Sufferer:Authentic Being in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days
Abstract

The heroine's gradual sinking into the mound in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days is one of the most baffling instances of human suffering in world literature. Yet Winnie's lighthearted concern with her imminent death is not only astonishing but also uniquely authentic. I adopt Heidegger's understanding of authenticity and present a Heideggerian reading of Beckett's play. Simultaneously, I address Beckett's unique counterpoint to suffering in Happy Days: the merriness characterizing authentic being. While a Heideggerian reading of Beckett helps to trace the development of authentic being, a Beckettian reading of Heidegger may help to see the delight (absurdly) accompanying it.

Merriness and suffering seldom accompany each other. Looking at Samuel Beckett's dramas we find human beings whose suffering is both primordial—simultaneous with their conception—and final, allowing no culmination or relief. The sufferers have become indifferent toward their suffering because of a palpable lack of an alternative. They have grown accustomed to their misery, since their life was never anything but misery. Needless to say, in Beckett this ubiquitous misery and suffering never appear in themselves. The extremities of human calamities presented in various startling ways—Winnie's gradual sinking into the mound in Happy Days perhaps the most baffling—call for a legitimating dose of fitness, vitality, and well-being against which suffering can be measured.

When no such alternative modes of living are found, one begins to discover the dramatic relevance of Beckett's counterpoints. Within the [End Page 112] confines of this essay I cannot do full justice to the staggering variety of counterpoints in Beckett's work. Suffice it here to say that primarily as means of subversion and alienation, these counterpoints include the perspectival (the trivial constantly contrasting the universal in Waiting for Godot) and the temperamental (the "romantic" mood of the love scene in the short story First Love is grotesquely punctuated by references to filth, death, and garbage), to mention but two of such counterpoint's most conspicuous forms.

Yet no Beckettian counterpoint is quite as baffling as Winnie's cheerfulness in Happy Days.1 In my reading this cheerfulness dominates the emotional content of the play to attain its full manifestation in the final song, "The Merry Widow." At this crucial moment the song is sung together by Winnie and Willie, interrupting a long chain of monologues delivered solely by the heroine. The merriness of the dying heroine is not only astonishing and unsettling but—as I argue below—authentic. I adopt Martin Heidegger's understanding of authenticity as beingtoward-death, a kind of anticipation and "running forth" ("Cast your mind forward, Winnie") characteristic perhaps mostly of the heroine in Happy Days.

In what follows I will first look at the nature of suffering and confinement in Beckett's play, and highlight those aspects that render it baffling even in the light of Beckett's entire corpus. Second, through a short recourse to Heidegger's description of the different modes of being, I present a Heideggerian reading of Beckett's play, and also examine the limits of such an approach. Third, I address Beckett's unique counterpoint to suffering in Happy Days: the merriness pertaining to authentic being,2 and the aesthetics of misery. In my view, if a Heideggerian reading of Beckett helps to trace the development of authentic being, a Beckettian reading of Heidegger may help to see the delight (absurdly) accompanying it. This delight seems to triumph over the very angst that in Heidegger's thought constitutes "a basic mood had in face of nothingness"; as Simon Critchley observes, "the anxiety for my Being experienced in being-toward-death."3 Moreover, Winnie's merriness rehabilitates something of the lightheartedness famously banished by Adorno from the realm of art after Auschwitz.

I

Confinement is inexorable in both acts of Happy Days. It soon becomes obvious that Winnie's gradual sinking into the mound is by no means [End Page 113] temporary: it is an unalterable life condition, without a concrete beginning or end. Winnie herself does not make any attempt to set herself free: the idea of liberation never occurs to her. Indeed, her miserable condition becomes so habitual that she does not even consider it worthy of reflection. In a way similar to Endgame, this gradual sinking also foreshadows the nearing of an end, a linear development and culmination that may be contrasted to the cyclicality of Waiting for Godot.

While rendering the character inactive, this extreme confinement questions the meaning of action in a meaningless universe. At the same time, the various Beckettian forms of restriction ought to be considered in the larger context of theatricality. As Martin Puchner has convincingly argued, this phenomenon of restraining actors in barrels, urns, and mounds is to be considered together with what he calls Beckett's meticulous stagings and his crusade against actors, which betray an overwhelming antitheatricality, itself part of the modernist resistance to theater, shared with such diverse authors as Yeats and Brecht. It is vital to see, however, that these figures—according to Puchner—"channeled their resistance to the theater back into the theater itself."4 Puchner's contribution to a better understanding of the modernist resistance to theater thus helps us handle the disturbing antitheatrical moments on Beckett's stage.

In Beckett's plays the inability to act is not only characteristic of those restrained in movement. In Endgame the disabled Hamm is unable to stand up, and the three-legged toy dog always leans to its side, but there is no apparent reason why Clov cannot sit down. Nevertheless, if confinement and inaction are predetermined, ways of dealing or coping with them definitely are not. Winnie handles her situation with remarkable ease, evoking and recounting her favorite topics. In my reading these themes and motifs disclose patterns of behavior reminiscent of Heidegger's das Man, and betray a specifically Beckettian attitude toward death that comes very close to Heidegger's concept of authenticity. Moreover, my brief recapitulation of the heroine's daily doings below serve to demonstrate the dramatic crystallization of authentic being. I find that in Happy Days, more than any other of Beckett's dramas, this authenticity is not only the most palpable mode of being but also outstanding in its daring association with merriness.

In act 1 the world of objects dominates the stage. Winnie is mainly preoccupied with dealing with the bag and its contents; she cleans her teeth, puts on her glasses, drinks from the medicine bottle, applies lipstick in front of a mirror, puts on her hat, combs her hair, polishes her [End Page 114] nails. Winnie is surrounded by objects that keep her busy until the end of the day. Apart from the contents of the bag, we find a variety of objects: the parasol, the handkerchief, and Willie's newspaper and postcard.

In act 2 objects play a lesser role as a consequence of Winnie's increased confinement. According to the stage direction her head remains immobile; only her eyes move. This impossible situation gives rise to new themes and pastimes, like the emphatic concentration on hearing. Winnie hears noises: "Sometimes I hear sounds. . . . They are a boon, sounds are a boon, they help me . . . through the day" (p. 25). Those are the happy days when she hears noises and her head is full of cries. Other "actions" include her storytelling about Mildred and recounting of the last couple of humanity. In the meantime, her concern and care for Willie become more and more pronounced. Spatial distance from the bag and its contents is an act of moving closer to the Other, which finally triggers the great reunion and the final catharsis of the song.

II

Winnie's inability to move paradoxically highlights mobility, humanity's busying itself with objects. Similar to Winnie, who reads the text on the toothbrush through a magnifying glass, we can follow the movements of her hand and interpret her use of tools in a magnified, because limited, range of movement. For Winnie the world is primarily a world of things or tools in the Heideggerian sense. Adopting Heidegger's terms, Winnie's Dasein is a "being-in-the-world," and its "being towards the world is essentially concern."5

Many have submitted contributions to the influence of Heidegger's work on the Beckett oeuvre. As Alain Robbe-Grillet claims, Beckett's Waiting for Godot is the dramatized version of Heidegger's Dasein.6 Furthermore, in Mary O'Hara's extreme view, Heidegger's philosophy is so closely linked to Beckett that the latter's works are to be read as the literary realization of Heidegger's thought.7 Building on O'Hara's theory, Lance St. John Butler devotes a lengthy chapter of his book to prove the effect of Being and Time on Beckett. His contribution, however, betrays a questionable conviction that there is no proof of Beckett's familiarity with Heidegger. Steven Barfield draws a similar conclusion in his illuminating survey on Beckett and Heidegger, when he talks about the two authors' "similar preoccupations" instead of one's influence on the other.8 Leading beyond similar preoccupations, Rodney Sharkey offers striking biographical evidence to establish Beckett's familiarity [End Page 115] with Heidegger's philosophy.9 As he points out, the figure to mediate this philosophy was Beckett's friend and initial mentor in philosophy, Jean Beaufret. Followed by Jacques Derrida and others, Beaufret was the first to defend his own mentor, Heidegger, from the ostracism triggered by his morally deplorable relation to National Socialism, and the first to orchestrate his "repatriation into the pantheon of important philosophers."10 I find it hard to imagine how Beaufret would have responded to the recently unearthed "black notebooks," which testify that Heidegger steadfastly refused to abandon his political delusions.

Apart from Beaufret, Sharkey also draws on the diaries Beckett kept while in Germany in 1936–37. In them Beckett records having received a pamphlet on Heidegger written by the painter and philosopher Karl Ballmer.11 Beckett appears to have studied Ballmer's interpretation and then summarized the main conclusions, which, to Sharkey, proves that Beckett was "comfortable with Heidegger's distinct language and style wherein being is revealed obliquely" ("BBH," p. 415). Needless to say, this familiarity with Heidegger's thought never turns into an ideological influence. Long before joining the French resistance in 1941, Beckett displays what Mark Nixon calls a "distaste for the new Weltanschauung" already in the German diaries (GD, p. 87).

Another important figure deeply concerned both with Heidegger and Beckett is of course Theodor Adorno, whose personal meetings with the latter and his thought-provoking notes on Endgame bears witness to a possible impact. According to Dirk Van Hulle, Adorno composed his notes on Endgame at a time when Heidegger was the leading exponent of hermeneutics.12 However, as Van Hulle reminds later in his essay, Adorno sharply differentiates Heidegger's language of existential ontology from Beckett's language, namely the "hieratic language" of the former from the "regressive language" of the latter ("Notes," pp. 16–17). Abstractionism here is opposed to concretism, abstraction to subtraction. Where I believe Adorno comes closer to Heidegger—within the scope of my present investigation—is the emphasis on Sachlichkeit, or "objectivity," which, Van Hulle notes, characterized the realistic style of the 1920s that concentrated on plain objects in contrast to abstract art and expressionism ("Notes," p. 17).13 In his analysis of Endgame, Adorno traces a "hidden objectivity" grounded on Beckett's own deletion of a reference to a concrete object after the second draft. Yet the object in Beckett survives. In Endgame it survives through the omission itself, as Adorno claims ("Notes," p. 18). In Happy Days, I would like to add, plain objects dominate the world. [End Page 116]

Instead of taking sides with either Barfield's "similar preoccupations," Sharkey's direct impact, or Adorno's stance on objectivity, one also needs to consider Beckett's well-known—though sometimes questioned—aversion to philosophy. As he declared in an interview, he did not read philosophers for he did not understand them: "When Heidegger and Sartre speak of a contrast between being and existence, they may be right, I don't know, but their language is too philosophical for me. I am not a philosopher. One can only speak of what is in front of him, and that now is simply the mess."14 Still, whenever Beckett is looking for the form in his work to accommodate this mess, he comes very close to Heidegger. Though several works can be—and are—used to demonstrate this proximity, I believe that it is in Happy Days where this proximity is most conspicuous, at least when this essay's main concern, the different modes of being, is at stake.

What we (and Winnie) encounter as closest to us in our everyday dealings is what Heidegger calls "equipment" (BT, p. 98). Winnie is dealing with things ready-to-hand, in Heideggerian terms, using the equipment of her day-to-day activities and concerns. Consequently, the things around her are not just lying scattered around ready-to-hand (Vorhandenes) but are present-at-hand (Zuhandenes), existing as the being of the equipment. The things dug out from the bag are taken by her hand: Winnie uses them like tools. However, I believe something more is going on here than a woman's concern with maintaining her appeal. First, these tools are removed from the context of habitual, everyday life. Second, as a consequence, the use of cosmetic devices in the context of the play may be better explained by the repeated concern with "passing the time."

In Heidegger's definition equipment is essentially something "in-order-to," which in Winnie's case is of particular importance. Winnie's careless, routine recourse to tools keeps demonstrating the purpose, or "in-order-to," of the equipment. In the circumstances, however, this practice is merely a parody of usability, since both the "assignment context" and the primary "toward-which"—stressed by Heidegger—are missing. Winnie is preparing for the day: she cleans her teeth, combs her hair, puts on lipstick; but the "in-order-to" of these dealings only comprises killing time and attempting to save her dignity from being shattered.

Winnie is obviously concerned with the things existing ready-to-hand. At the same time the beings, to which Dasein as being-together is related, are not ready-to-hand, but Dasein themselves, Heidegger reminds us. Thus, Winnie and Willie's relationship is to be interpreted by the [End Page 117] structure of care. Among Winnie's old things appears Willie, making her days happier by repeated attempts to communicate. Nevertheless, Winnie's existence is different from the thingliness of the present-at-hand, not just by being Dasein but also by the togetherness that defines her relation to the world. Togetherness is an underlying concern even when Winnie is immersed in her things. Even though she can see Willie only at certain times (and the audience even more rarely, mostly through her eyes), her actions and her care are transcended by her husband's presence, "just to know that in theory you can hear me even though in fact you don't is all I need, just to feel you there within earshot" (p. 11).

Winnie's actions are marked by an everyday character, which likens her to das Man. Her routine daily activities, undertaken with care, are the consequence of what Heidegger calls "the dictatorship of das Man." Indeed, the secret force that collects Winnie's things, which are scattered during the day, and that rings the bell to remind her of the daily deliveries, may also be seen as the embodiment of the dictatorship of das Man ("the they"). Heidegger writes, "The Self of everyday Dasein is the they-self, which we distinguish from the authentic Self—that is, from the Self which has been taken hold of in its own way" [eigens ergriffenen]. As they-self, the particular Dasein has been dispersed into the "they," and must find itself (BT, p. 167). The nonevaluative, perspectival sense of authenticity, as Taylor Carman observes, "marks a distinction between one's immediate relation to oneself and one's mediate relations to others." However, Carman also pinpoints another, perhaps more relevant sense of authenticity, which refers to "a desirable or choice-worthy mode of existence."15

In Beckett's play, genderless das Man is embodied by a woman: filing her nails, cleaning her teeth, making herself up, Winnie is an average woman and also an authentic being. Heidegger remarks, "Authentic Being-one's-Self does not rest upon an exceptional condition of the subject, a condition that has been detached from the 'they.' It is rather an existential modification of the 'they': of the 'they' as 'essential existentiale'" (BT, p. 168). Dasein is lost in das Man, and it is yet to discover itself, to emerge as an authentic being. Winnie's confinement from this perspective is the confinement of an inauthentic being locked up in das Man's struggle with objects. The question is what other mode of being may surface in this seclusion and isolation and how its summoner—to use a Heideggerian term—is represented.

The call of conscience "calls Dasein forth (and 'forward') to its ownmost possibilities, as a summons for its ownmost potentiality-for-Being-its-Self," [End Page 118] says Heidegger. And further, "conscience summons Dasein's Self from its lostness in the 'they'" (BT, p. 319). But what is the message of the call? "The caller is Dasein in its uncanniness," writes Heidegger, "the bare that-it-is in the 'nothing' of the world" (p. 321). No better words can describe Winnie's situation. The always overwhelming feeling of alienation, homelessness, and anxiety, the indefinable nothing and nowhere: this is where Dasein emerges. Winnie frequently mentions the hours of depression, sorrow, and fear, her insupportable condition—but these are consistently counterpointed by her merry comments. Her misery in "lostness" is evident, her merriness in homelessness absurd. Although the caller is Dasein itself, the call asserts nothing. The call invites Dasein to its ownmost possibilities. "Conscience discourses solely and constantly in the mode of keeping silent," stresses Heidegger (p. 318).

Winnie's endless chatter is rhythmically segmented by pauses, the series of blocks signifying the impossibility to express Dasein's anxiety in words. In accordance with her gradual sinking, the speech blocks and silences become more regular and deeper, not only foreshadowing the terrible silence of death but also creating space for the emergence of her ownmost possibilities. In these moments, "when the call of conscience is understood, lostness in the 'they' is revealed. . . . When one has an understanding of Being-towards-death—towards death as one's ownmost possibility—one's potentiality-for-Being becomes authentic and wholly transparent" (BT, p. 354). In this distinctive possibility of Dasein's own self, says Heidegger, "it has been wrenched away from the 'they.'" Furthermore, the temporal relation of Dasein to its own being-toward-death [Sein zum Tode] is anticipation: "Anticipation turns out to be the possibility of understanding one's ownmost and uttermost potentiality-for-Being—that is to say, the possibility of authentic existence" (p. 307).

Besides embodying das Man, Winnie is also free from all the illusions of das Man, since her freedom is the freedom of running forth (figuratively), anticipating death, and her merry mood is the joy of freedom. She is a person of a double nature: a das Man and a being-toward-death, constantly wrenching herself away from the ordinary. Yet Barfield warns against ascribing to Beckett's characters and narrators "that authenticity of feeling that Heidegger intended" ("BHCS," p. 161). Concentrating on The Trilogy, he argues for a differentiation between Beckett's and Heidegger's notion of death as finitude, and claims that besides undermining the meaning of death as finitude, Beckett presents death as both more uncertain and "seemingly incapable of offering more than the phantom promise of a cessation of existence" (p. 161). In Happy Days, [End Page 119] however, Winnie's gradual sinking into the mound does prognosticate her unavoidable death with utmost certainty. To be sure, buried in the mound she is both Dasein and its parody.

Simultaneously, in Beckett's version of being and time, the heroine's incessant merry mood overcomes her anxiety. Though at times she exhibits a distinct sense of strain, Winnie seems to bear her exposure with hardly a word of complaint, and—heading toward an anticipated death—continues to live day after day with a more or less undisturbed merriness.16 The aforementioned duality is represented by the things luring her into lostness on the one hand, and by the pauses between the words severed from things on the other.

The repeated parallelism between speech and things to do highlight the human being's alternatives to dealing with everyday reality. The daily doings in this light encompass both the correct use of tools and that of words. For Winnie the necessity to speak involves uttering the words at her disposal together with the numberless variations and repetitions she randomly improvises. Thus she builds herself a shelter against solitude from the words and things surrounding her. It goes without saying that Winnie does not use words in their direct referentiality, since that usage would not provide her any solace. The only exceptions are the text on the toothbrush and Browning, the revolver. The words on the toothbrush draw attention to the equipment ready-to-hand and momentarily wrench her away from her lostness, the characteristic mode of being of das Man. Ultimately, the good old Browning, the final solution to all things, remains unused. Direct referentiality therefore is a reminder of the habituality from which she tries to escape. The words that promise momentary relief are not to be found in the bag but are products of her imagination.

Winnie is constantly creating imaginative spaces and time dimensions from words severed from their direct referentiality. She resorts to fictitious and real recollections, alternately, quoting the classics or telling tales. Winnie's monologues function mostly independently from her doings, and are mainly directed toward disentangling herself from the fetters of her misery.

The only exception to her misery is her communication with Willie, which is usually one-sided. Winnie is talking by herself, to herself, and about herself. In the meantime, she hopes that Willie is there to listen even when he remains silent. Winnie's insistence on Willie's attention betrays the actress's dependence on her spectators. In turn, Willie makes superhuman efforts to respond, and as a result, he makes Winnie's day: [End Page 120] "Oh you are going to talk to me today, this is going to be a happy day!" (p. 9). Keeping the conversation flowing is crucial to maintaining dramatic tension; Winnie shall never believe that she is abandoned forever. Willie's primary function is to attenuate Winnie's perpetual terror of being left alone. Willie reads newspapers: an absurd image of homeliness and habitual action in the burnt-out desert of homelessness. Reading papers is out of context in the circumstances, just like Winnie's habit of making herself up. The words in the newspaper ad ("Opening for smart youth," "Wanted: bright boy") are stripped from their context, and the writing on the toothbrush ("hog's setae") is unintelligible. Nevertheless, these textual references reactivate the context and intelligibility of things, by the power of being out of place and context. Winnie is unable to interpret the sign and the news in the paper, just as she is unable to use the things around her in the appropriate assignment-context. Consequently, the source of Winnie's merriness cannot be found in the world of words and things. It has to be sought elsewhere.

III

As I have shown, some degree of misery is inseparable from human existence in Beckett's thought. This world holds no place for health, happiness, or normality. In contrast, Beckett's works maintain a clear tendency for making misery itself the norm. Perhaps to forestall this, we are confronted with the abnormality of merriness in Happy Days. Merriness is both a counterpoint and a sheer impossibility. Winnie's fits of enthusiasm are mostly triggered by Willie's actions and reactions: "Oh this will have been a happy day!" (p. 18) she cries out, clapping hands, when Willie starts to sing in his rusty voice.

Needless to say, merriness is fundamentally Winnie's self-defense. She protects herself from her irremediable condition by—as we have seen—resorting to habits and to the lostness of das Man, from which she occasionally succeeds in emerging as an authentic being. As Stanley Gontarski concludes, another element of Winnie's self-protection is that she is able to live for the moment only. Beckett himself stated, with regard to a performance he directed in Germany, that Winnie's experience of time is an "incomprehensible transport from one inextricable present to the next" (IU, p. 74).

Indeed, the days are happy as soon as Winnie's strategies of self-defense prove effective, and when Willie is inclined to pay attention and perhaps even to communicate. Reinforcement expected and gained from the [End Page 121] other is thus probably one of the most important themes of the play.17 Winnie strives to be recognized, to be accepted, to elicit feedback confirming the fact that she is still alive despite being buried. When up to her neck in the ground, only able to move her eyes, Winnie makes an inventory of her remaining body parts. In Beckett's use of George Berkeley's axiom "Esse est percipi,"18 perception and self-perception affect each other. Willie is the exception to the rule by being the strongest presence, to which—despite being hardly perceived—Winnie adheres until the end. Furthermore, another sign of her attachment is the urge to become visible to the man, to be perceived, and not to be cast away to nothingness before her time:

Can you see me from there I wonder? . . . No? Oh I know it does not follow when two are gathered together . . . in this way . . . that because one sees the other the other sees the one, life has taught me that . . . too. . . . Could you see me, Willie, do you think, from where you are, if you were to raise your eyes in my direction? (Turns a little further.) Lift up your eyes to me, Willie, and tell me can you see me, do that for me, I'll lean back as far as I can.

(p. 12)

The relation between being and nonbeing is further complicated by a force secretly operating in the background. Despite being invisible—not even Winnie's spectacles or magnifying glass can spot it—it exercises an inexorable power over Winnie's life (p. 168). Without seeing and being seen, Winnie's visible, tangible life would be "eternal dark . . . Black night without end" (p. 29). The problem of seeing leads from the merriness in misery to the aestheticization of misery. In all her misery Winnie preserves her female dignity: she puts on lipstick in the mirror and makes herself up. At the same time, the first thing we see of Willie is his skull,19 with a stripe of blood on it. Willie covers it with a tissue, and puts on a straw hat. After these precautions, in order to attract even more attention, his skull is framed by the newspaper. The face framed by the mirror, and the head framed by the newspaper, are striking Beckettian moments of the aesthetic counterpointing misery.

Judging by the stage directions, Beckett pays significant attention to perspective: who sees what and who fails to see what. Willie is most often seen by Winnie's eyes. To us spectators, only certain body parts are visible: his hands, his skull. Conversely, as Alan Loxterman points out, "From Willie's point of view [Winnie] will have changed because the mound has advanced to hide her arms and breasts."20 Willie's [End Page 122] complete physical body only appears at the end of the play, when he staggers up the mound toward Winnie, with his hands and feet on the ground, dressed to kill. The Sisyphusian attempt is a failure; he rolls back down, yet his effort is moving. What is more, the so-far-speechless Willie addresses Winnie for the first time: "Win." Winnie softly sings the tune of Die lustige Witwe, then the spouses keep watching each other in silence while the curtain descends. Beckett leaves his drama open-ended—it is not clear whether Willie's intention to approach Winnie is to be kissed or to fetch Winnie's revolver, Browning. Yet the question of Willie's real motive is marginalized by the Die lustige Witwe, the hymn of Winnie's undefeatable, perverse merriness.

The main thrust of this paper has been to demonstrate that Winnie's anticipation of and concern with decay comes close to Heidegger's understanding of being-toward-death and authenticity. In this respect the crucial episodes in the play prove to be those moments when she appears to extricate herself from her doings, emerge from lostness, and "run forth." I believe it is a peculiar mode of the Beckettian absurd to add a touch of merriness to this overwhelming misery that is Winnie's destiny from the start.

Ivan Nyusztay
Budapest Business School, University of Applied Sciences

Footnotes

1. Samuel Beckett, Happy Days (1960–61; repr., London: Faber and Faber, 1963); hereafter cited by page numbers.

2. "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that," declares Nell in Endgame (London: Faber and Faber, 1958), p. 20. Yet in Endgame neither Nell nor any of the other characters demonstrates or verifies this rather peculiar observation in the manner Winnie does in Happy Days.

3. Simon Critchley, Very Little . . . Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 59.

4. Martin Puchner, Stage Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), p. 19.

5. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (1962; repr., Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), p. 84; hereafter abbreviated BT.

6. Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1965). [End Page 123]

7. Mary O'Hara, The Unfulfilled Search for Identity in the Poems and Novels of Samuel Beckett (Galway: University College, 1974), quoted by Lance St. John Butler, Samuel Beckett and the Meaning of Being (London: Macmillan, 1980), p. 4.

8. Steven Barfield, "Beckett and Heidegger: A Critical Survey," in Beckett and Philosophy, ed. Richard Lane (New York: Palgrave, 2002), p. 156; hereafter abbreviated "BHCS."

9. Rodney Sharkey, "Beaufret, Beckett, and Heidegger: The Question(s) of Influence," in Samuel Beckett: Debts and Legacies, ed. E. Tonning, M. Feldman, M. Engelberts, D. Van Hulle (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010), pp. 409–22 (411); hereafter abbreviated "BBH."

10. On the relation between Heidegger and Beaufret see Pierre Jacerme, "The Thoughtful Dialogue between Martin Heidegger and Jean Beaufret," in French Interpretations of Heidegger: An Exceptional Reception, ed. D. Pettigrew and F. Raffoul (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008), p. 63.

11. See also Mark Nixon, Samuel Beckett's German Diaries 1936–1937 (London: Continuum, 2011), p. 155; hereafter abbreviated GD.

12. Dirk Van Hulle, "Adorno's Notes on Endgame," Journal of Beckett Studies 19, no. 2 (September 2010): 9; hereafter abbreviated "Notes."

13. See also Theodor Adorno's 1965 essay, "Functionalism Today," in Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Culture Theory, ed. Neil Leach (London: Routledge, 1997) for emphasis on objectivity, the hand and handicraft, and even more important, on the thingliness of the thing (Ding), which is connected to several traditions of German thought, foremost to Heidegger.

14. Lawrence Graver and Raymond Federman, eds., Samuel Beckett: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979), p. 219.

15. Taylor Carman, "Authenticity," in A Companion to Heidegger, ed. Hubert L. Dreyfus and Mark A. Wrathall (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), p. 285.

16. Kathryn White also stresses Winnie's optimism and cheerful disposition, but she explains it by the heroine's "determination to perpetuate her life" and by the "human instinct to survive" (Kathryn White, Beckett and Decay [London: Continuum, 2009], p. 51).

17. In Gontarski's words, "theme of validation." Stanley E. Gontarski, The Intent of Undoing in Samuel Beckett's Dramatic Texts (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), p. 69; hereafter abbreviated IU. Elizabeth Barry also stresses Winnie's penchant for a shared experience: "Winnie requires that the present be shared for it to attain an objective existence" (Elizabeth Barry, Beckett and Authority: The Uses of Cliché [London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006], p. 116).

18. "To be is to be perceived." See Ruby Cohn, Just Play: Beckett's Theater (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 5.

19. "Skull" is one of Beckett's favorite words, a memento mori that is given a new horizon of significance with absurd associations. As Alain Badiou observes, "The subject as skull is fundamentally reducible to saying and seeing"(Alain Badiou, On Beckett, ed. and trans. A. Toscano and N. Power [Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2003], p. 105).

20. Alan S. Loxterman, "'The More Joyce Knew the More He Could,' and 'More Than I Could': Theology and Fictional Technique in Joyce and Beckett," in Samuel Beckett, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2011), p. 36. [End Page 124]

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
112-124
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-19
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.