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Samuel Beckett's family values: The family, regeneration and the status of the child in his work

Robins, Philip Raymond; (1996) Samuel Beckett's family values: The family, regeneration and the status of the child in his work. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

By examining the ways in which Beckett is preoccupied with the structure of the family both as a discrete unit and as a wider network of genealogical human relationships, the thesis seeks to define the sometimes surprisingly humanist values evinced in the oeuvre. The first part of the thesis focusses primarily upon antecedents, and examines Beckett's abiding fascination with ancestors and with the repetitive patterns of continuity manifest in successive generations. A substantial discussion of the early novel Watt treats of Beckett's ambivalent feelings about human kinship, affiliation, and succession, while Endgame provides the focal point for a study of Beckett's attitude toward the family unit and toward the home (or household) as an arena of human relationship. The second part of the thesis is devoted to Beckett's writing about procreation and childbirth. It begins with a discussion of Beckett's mixed feelings about regeneration, discusses contraception, and closely examines three particular nativity scenes which in several ways mitigate against Beckett's notorious anti-birth ethos. The third part underlines the importance of Beckett's peculiar fascination with the figure of the child, highlighting his tendency to dwell upon the diminutive and the incipient in all things. One chapter looks at a sample of important encounters with children in the oeuvre, and pinpoints some of the peculiarities of child-adult relations in Beckett. Another, focussing mainly on All That Fall, considers children as tokens of loss. Children are throughout found to be important sources for the metaphorical life of the writing. By looking at the family in these general terms, and by looking closely at many examples of Beckett's best writing on it, the thesis shows how Beckett's "values" are more complex, less austere and arid, than is often supposed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Samuel Beckett's family values: The family, regeneration and the status of the child in his work
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Beckett, Samuel
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099930
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