Beckett and Nothing

Trying to understand Beckett

Edited by Daniela Caselli

Beckett and Nothing


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8784-4
  • Pages: 292
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: June 2012
  • BIC Category: Literature: history & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature


Beckett's reception was characterised in its early stages by a sustained attention to nothing as a philosophical concept. Theodor Adorno, however, was quick to argue that Beckett's plays resisted - unlike Sartre's - having their nothing transformed into something. This Beckettian nothing, moreover, is often invested with the aura of the genius, either for eulogical or dismissive purposes. This volume invites its readership to understand the complex ways in which the Beckett canon both suggests and resists turning nothing into something by looking at specific, sometimes almost invisible ways in which 'little nothings' pervade the Beckett canon.

The volume has two main functions: on the one hand, it looks at 'nothing' not only as a content but also a set of rhetorical strategies to reconsider afresh classic Beckett problems such as Irishness, silence, value, marginality, politics and the relationships between modernism and postmodernism and absence and presence. On the other, it focuses on 'nothing' in order to assess how the Beckett oeuvre can help us rethink contemporary preoccupations with materialism, neurology, sculpture, music and television.

Both advanced students and scholars of Beckett will find the volume of interest. It comprises jargon-free chapters that analyse Beckett's prose, drama, film, television, manuscripts and marginalia. It will prove of interest to advanced students and scholars in English, French, Comparative Literature, Drama, Visual Studies, Philosophy, Music, Cinema and TV studies.


Terry Eagleton, 'Nothing new'
Daniela Caselli, 'Beckett and nothing: trying to understand Beckett'
1. John Pilling, 'On not being there: going on without in Beckett'
2. Peter Boxall, 'Nothing of value: reading Beckett's negativity'
3. Mladen Dolar, 'Nothing has changed'
4. Stephen Thomson, '"A tangle of tatters": ghosts and the busy nothing in Footfalls
5. Bill Prosser, 'Nothings in particular'
6. Shane Weller, 'Unwords'
7. Jonathan Bignell, 'Into the Void: Beckett's television plays and the idea of broadcasting'
8. Derval Tubridy, 'Beckett, Feldman, Salcedo. Neither'
9. Matthijs Engelberts, 'From Film to literature: theoretical debates and the critical erasure of Beckett's cinema'
10. Catherine Laws, 'Beckett and unheard sound'
11. Russell Smith, 'It's nothing: Beckett and anxiety'
12. Laura Salisbury, '"Something or nothing": Beckett and the matter of language'
Coda, Enoch Brater, 'The no-thing that knows no name and the Beckett envelope, blissfully reconsidered'


Daniela Caselli is Senior Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture in the School of Arts, Histories, and Cultures at the University of Manchester

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