University of Reading • 3-4 November 2016
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Khosrou Mahmudi in Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe

About the Conference

Samuel Beckett is often hailed as the epitome of the ahistorical and apolitical writer. His work has been characterised by a poetics of ‘impotence and ignorance’ that makes use of aporia, silence, indifference, resistance to narrative and a disconnection from contextual time and space. However, to what extent has the political nature of Beckett’s aesthetic been overlooked?

Throughout his life and career, Beckett encountered an exceptional range of extreme political ideologies in Twentieth Century Europe. His background as an Anglo-Irish Protestant in the Irish Saorstat, his documented wandering through Nazi Germany in 1936-37, his decision to leave neutral Ireland during World War Two and subsequent role in the French Resistance, his encounters with Irish and British censorship throughout his career, and his support of political causes throughout his writing life such as anti-apartheid in South Africa and the imprisonment of Václav Havel all suggest that the politics of Beckett’s biography and writing is a ripe area for discussion. The various modernisms that emerged in Ireland, Britain, France and Germany also heavily influenced Beckett as a young writer, however, the political aspects of artistic movements in the Twentieth Century have yet to be wholly accounted for in terms of Beckett’s works. (more…)