Literary Criticism

Download PDF by Thomas Cousineau: After the Final No: Samuel Beckett's Trilogy

By Thomas Cousineau

This research explores the dialectic of destruction and renewal within the paintings that Samuel Beckett considered as his masterpiece: the trilogy of novels he wrote after global conflict II. It translates the trilogy as offering a subversive critique of the 3 idols -- mom, father, and self -- to which humanity has hunted for security and advice all through history.

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59 But where religion and aesthetics start pulling apart is where a creative artist, without necessarily forswearing religious matter, sees religion not as something that artistic endeavour should serve, but as raw material like anything else. Shakespeare’s writing draws upon Christianity, but does not concede to it, or to any of the other religions he uses. All are subsumed to the specific demands of the aesthetic artifact, raising the earthly creator to a position where he jockeys for position with God – or, as some would see it, is made into a god himself.

Given prophane persons too much advantage to play upon them’ – and the ‘loose persons . . 11 The passage is a reminder that 34 SHAKESPEARE AND RELIGION plays would have formed a continuum with other forms of antiPuritan scoffing. Sanderson’s condemnation of Puritanism on the one hand and low life on the other is a means of defining himself as a morally upright, mainstream member of the Church of England, and the passage is an aside in an argument that the church should retain some ceremonial. But drama offers considerably fewer handles, and the fact that Shakespeare’s anti-Puritanism has been so much discussed is a sign of how few clues he gives his readers and audiences about his beliefs.

But Shakespeare has more often been compared to another minor classical deity: the sea-god Proteus, proverbial as a shape-changer. In Renaissance metaphor and iconography, Proteus’s appearances are frequent and appropriately versatile. He could symbolize unformed primordial matter, the generative principle or the diversity of creation, and accordingly features in neoplatonic theory. 64 As all this implies, he was a figure who invited moralistic and judgemental interpretations; at one moment he might personify delight in the endless play of imaginative possibilities, and at another, deceit, disguise and evasiveness.

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