Samuel Beckett's obstinate attempt at contracting literary forms characterizes his whole literary trajectory and makes of him one of the undisputed masters of the short form. This may be surprising, considering that among the most significant influences in his early career there were Marcel Proust – an arch-enemy of the short form if ever there was one – and the equally long-winded James Joyce. In spite of such progenitors, Beckett's artistic research seems to have been inspired by a desire for conciseness and compactness that brought him to kill his fathers early in his career and move as far as possible from them. Starting from his early works Beckett consecrated his career to a systematic, almost obsessive, exercise in “subtracting, taking away”: an exploration of concentrated forms and shrinking proportions that produced texts whose dimensions are inversely proportional to their density. Analyzing some of the most significant texts, I discuss the intrinsic reasons of these formal experiments in the light of Beckett's whole artistic trajectory. First I highlight how Beckett's short forms are not to be considered as something given, but as the result of a process. Then, I propose a typology of techniques characterizing the two opposite but complementary aspects of such process: abstraction on the one hand – produced by means of symmetry and excavation – and complication on the other – produced by means of fragmentation and condensation. Geometrical simplification and condensed complication, the external compression of form and the internal contraction of matter: Samuel Beckett finds a balance between these two complementary aspects, creating works that are at the same time miniaturized and distilled, cameos and fragments.

Bellini, F., Towards Lessness: Sulle forme brevi di Samuel Beckett, in Borgogni, D., Caprettini G, C. G., Vaglio Marengo, V. M. C. (ed.), Forma Breve, Accademia University Press, Torino 2016: 418- 427 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/94552]

Towards Lessness: Sulle forme brevi di Samuel Beckett

Bellini, Federico
2016

Abstract

Samuel Beckett's obstinate attempt at contracting literary forms characterizes his whole literary trajectory and makes of him one of the undisputed masters of the short form. This may be surprising, considering that among the most significant influences in his early career there were Marcel Proust – an arch-enemy of the short form if ever there was one – and the equally long-winded James Joyce. In spite of such progenitors, Beckett's artistic research seems to have been inspired by a desire for conciseness and compactness that brought him to kill his fathers early in his career and move as far as possible from them. Starting from his early works Beckett consecrated his career to a systematic, almost obsessive, exercise in “subtracting, taking away”: an exploration of concentrated forms and shrinking proportions that produced texts whose dimensions are inversely proportional to their density. Analyzing some of the most significant texts, I discuss the intrinsic reasons of these formal experiments in the light of Beckett's whole artistic trajectory. First I highlight how Beckett's short forms are not to be considered as something given, but as the result of a process. Then, I propose a typology of techniques characterizing the two opposite but complementary aspects of such process: abstraction on the one hand – produced by means of symmetry and excavation – and complication on the other – produced by means of fragmentation and condensation. Geometrical simplification and condensed complication, the external compression of form and the internal contraction of matter: Samuel Beckett finds a balance between these two complementary aspects, creating works that are at the same time miniaturized and distilled, cameos and fragments.
Italiano
Forma Breve
978-8899200916
Accademia University Press
Bellini, F., Towards Lessness: Sulle forme brevi di Samuel Beckett, in Borgogni, D., Caprettini G, C. G., Vaglio Marengo, V. M. C. (ed.), Forma Breve, Accademia University Press, Torino 2016: 418- 427 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/94552]
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