In Murphy, Samuel Beckett uses games to undermine expectations of cognitive normativity. He aligns mental disability with play, re-contextualizing cognitive difference as an interactive process rather than a frightening Otherness. Informed by visits to mental hospitals and personal experience with psychoanalytic treatment, characters in Murphy often enter interdependent relationships that question their own subjectivities, exploring what it means to be recognized as mentally disabled. The article suggests Beckett uses games to unsettle logical narrative sequence and permit unanticipated results. The ludic framework emphasizes the features games share with non-normative epistemologies, or "cripistemologies." Near the end of the novel Murphy plays chess with the schizophrenic Mr Endon, seeking equal recognition as mentally disabled. The game results in "Nothing," a Nothing that is not a void but the feeling of an inarticulate something, the presence of which develops through playful exchange. This Nothing allows space for understandings of cognitive difference existing outside normative conventions, expanding considerations of mental disability through processes of exchange.


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pp. 159-175
Launched on MUSE
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