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The discourse of madness in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Samuel Beckett's early English prose

Vincenti, G. (2019) The discourse of madness in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Samuel Beckett's early English prose. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

My research investigates James Joyce's and Samuel Beckett's personal knowledge of “madness”: in particular, I will look at how these experiences of madness (either one’s own, or of another) are turned into literature, how they are represented in an aesthetic form in Finnegans Wake and in Beckett’s early English prose. My choice of the generic term a “madness” reflects the necessity of considering mental illness as a multilayered and even uncanny set of different physical and mental conditions, and the discourses about them, which were at the centre of scientific and artistic debates during the early decades of the 20th century. As we will see, the textual representations of madness in both Joyce and (early) Beckett, are the result of the assimilation of various scientific theories and practices and reflect the cultural atmosphere of their times as well as literary traditions, both European and Irish. Moreover, all these elements were also combined with more personal, autobiographical ones. I will thus compare and contrast Joyce’s and Beckett’s texts providing a broader discursive context but also stressing those elements of originality that stem from biographical experience.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Carville, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Literature and Languages
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:89321
Date on Title Page:2018

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