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Title: 'The neatness of identifications' : rationality, science and the limits of analogy in Samuel Beckett's prose fiction
Author: Keen, Andrew.
Awarding Body: University of Reading ;
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2005
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In many ways, Samuel Beckett's prose fiction is an interrogation of the means by which metaphysics, characterised as the attempt to explain and understand the world through the power of thought, leads to the formulation (and subsequent collapse) of systematic theories and belief systems. Although such systems can be roughly categorised as being either rational or mystical in character, all are fundamentally reliant on the forging of abstract links between modes of thought previously seen as unconnected. This is a process predicated on the logic of analogy. Yet in Beckett's work, particularly in such early novels as Murphy and Watt, it is precisely this kind of cognitive association, allowed to operate unchecked, which proves to be the major impediment to his characters' efforts to comprehend their worlds. This thesis is a chronological exploration of the manner in which Beckett's fiction simultaneously portrays and scrutinizes the complex ways that rational (and therefore scientific) modes of thought are profoundly reliant on the ostensibly 'flimsy' logic of analogy in its many forms, thereby serving as a testing ground for the polnts at which this process breaks down and the attraction of the 'neatness of identifications' (as Beckett warned against in his 1929 essay 'Dante ... Bruno.Vico ..Joyce') is allowed to take precedence over the search for a more truthful account of the object of enquiry. Following the refutation of philosophical systems through their methodological affirmation in the early fiction, the allusive and structural patterns present in Beckett's post-war fiction serve as a repudiation of the commonly held view of Beckett as an overtly anti-rationalist writer. After this, the late prose operates by reducing the objects of its hermetic spaces to metonymic archetypes, mirroring the construction of scientific models in which only those entities which are strictly relevant to the theory, or conducive to its explanatory power, are represented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available