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Beckett's Political Imagination

$24.00 ( ) USD

  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108307659

$ 24.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • Beckett's Political Imagination charts unexplored territory: it investigates how Beckett's bilingual texts re-imagine political history, and documents the conflicts and controversies through which Beckett's political consciousness and affirmations were mediated. The book offers a startling account of Beckett's work, tracing the many political causes that framed his writing, commitments, collaborations and friendships, from the Scottsboro Boys to the Black Panthers, from Irish communism to Spanish republicanism to Algerian nationalism, and from campaigns against Irish and British censorship to anti-Apartheid and international human rights movements. Emilie Morin reveals a very different writer, whose career and work were shaped by a unique exposure to international politics, an unconventional perspective on political action and secretive political engagements. The book will benefit students, researchers and readers who want to think about literary history in different ways and are interested in Beckett's enduring appeal and influence.

    • This is the first monograph on Beckett and politics that spans across Beckett's entire career
    • It reveals his lifelong interest in political history, political thought, activism and petitioning
    • It sets Beckett's career in its political contexts, and brings to light the responsiveness of his writing to political circumstance
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This book is a revolution in Beckett studies: one will speak of before and after Emilie Morin. Thanks to her skills at unearthing forgotten archives, a new Beckett emerges, not just a political Beckett, but also a writer whose art, steeped in politics, preoccupied by the burning issues of the moment, never forgets the ethical limits it sets to itself. Here is an indispensable guide for all Beckett lovers.’ Jean-Michel Rabaté, University of Pennsylvania

    It seemed for a long while that a book able to address the difficult question of Beckett’s politics would, like Godot, never arrive. Emilie Morin’s Beckett’s Political Imagination offers a series of finely wrought and formidably well-researched reflections on the ways in which Beckett’s work is woven into its rich political contexts. In doing so, it produces a definitive account of the texture and purchase of his political imagination, which will have a transformative impact on our understanding of Beckett’s writing.’ Peter Boxall, University of Sussex

    ‘A work of passion and truth, in which the forms and styles of Beckett's art are unerringly linked to his search for liberation. An audaciously social interpretation of this deeply personal writer.’ Declan Kiberd, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

    'Rather than re-reading Beckett in conjunction with new theories of literary, political and theatrical import, we are better off exploring how Beckett leads us to an understanding and defiance of the brokenness of humanity and the short-comings of political ideas and contingent processes. Morin is an excellent guide to take us along this path. As she explains at the outset, defining Beckett’s politics remains a perilous exercise, but I for one say that it is an exploration well worth undertaking.' David Cowan, Books Ireland (

    '… the case is built by Morin’s patient accumulation of telling details across two-hundred and fifty pages until finally the conclusion seems inescapable: Samuel Beckett was a political animal.' Anthony Roche, Dublin Review of Books

    '… Morin, in her richly illuminating study, shows more comprehensively than anyone else has the plain untruth of the notion of a Beckett who walked away from any political conversation. … Indeed, Morin’s superbly researched book is so convincing in its meticulous recreation of Beckett’s political worlds that it raises an entirely new question: why, given all of this immersion in oppression, propaganda, totalitarianism, colonialism, and racism, is Beckett’s artistic work not more explicitly engaged?' Fintan O’Toole, The New York Review of Books

    'This reading of Beckett through political history helps clarify the enduring importance of his work … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' J. S. Baggett, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108307659
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. False starts: the 'material of experience' and the writing of history
    2. Another war entirely: internationalist politics and the labour of translation
    3. Aftermaths: the 'siege in the room' and the politics of testimony
    4. Turning points: torture, dissent and the Algerian War of Independence

  • Author

    Emilie Morin, University of York
    Emilie Morin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York. She works on modern literature, theatre history and forms of political writing. She has published widely on the work of Samuel Beckett, including a monograph entitled Samuel Beckett and the Problem of Irishness (2009), and has co-edited Theatre and Ghosts: Materiality, Performance and Modernity (2014), and Theatre and Human Rights after 1945: Things Unspeakable (2015).

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