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Samuel Beckett and the Second World War: historicising Beckett’s post-humanism

Davies, W. (2018) Samuel Beckett and the Second World War: historicising Beckett’s post-humanism. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00080000


This thesis examines the impacts and traces of the Second World War in the work of Samuel Beckett. The thesis uses a conceptual framework that identifies Beckett’s historical sensibilities within his literary and philosophical engagements with the traditions of humanism and shows how these manifests in the various responses to history that his work produces. Using archival and historical sources, the thesis shows how Beckett’s intellectual attitudes to history and its relationship with art and writing develop across the wartime and post-war period in conjunction with his work’s mounting engagement with the presumptions and promises of modern humanism. By reading Beckett’s writing in the context of his encounters with the politics of the Irish Free State, Nazi Germany, Vichy France and post-Liberation Paris, this thesis both grounds Beckett’s work in its historical moment and shows how his writing incorporates, critiques, mocks and resists many of the dominant historical and political narratives of the period. The project offers new ways to consider Beckett’s use of history within his writing and shows that his treatment of history and his historical contexts frequently inform the most important elements of his literary achievements.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Matthews, S.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Literature and Languages
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:80000
Date on Title Page:2017

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