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Title: The postcolonial psyche in the prose fiction of Samuel Beckett 1932-1950
Author: Dowling, Christopher Brendan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 2814
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2016
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Going against the grain of the formalist annulment of history's impact upon a writer's psyche, this dissertation employs postcolonial strategies in an analysis of Beckett's tangential response to the psychological-sociological impact of twentieth-century events that witnessed both the nominal end of colonialism in Ireland and the dissolution of European imperialism abroad. Despite Beckett's adoption of an elliptical modernist style and the subjective focus and introspective nature of his characterisation of Belacqua, Murphy, Watt, Molloy and Mahood, the socio-historical approach that underpins this reconstruction of a socially engaged Beckett, re-evaluates the significance of cultural nuances and extra-literary referents in the author's pre-war 'Irish' fiction and his more European-orientated post-war prose fiction. Operating within a postcolonial framework, I will explore the extent to which the socio-cultural ennui and misanthropy of Belacqua, Murphy and Watt is traceable to both the colonial legacy and the post-independence mood of disillusionment that enveloped the new state. Beckett's 'Irish' fiction' - More Pricks than Kicks, Murphy and Watt - contains the quasi-allegorical communique that the atrophying socio-cultural conformity that stymied the cultural, spiritual and artistic development of its citizens was engendered by the Irish State's postcolonial drive to normalise political and social relationships after the uncertainties and bitterness engendered by Civil War rivalries and the psychosocial impact of the cultural suppression which accompanied British colonialism. Referencing Watt, Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, I will show how Beckett relentlessly interrogates the pitiless rationalisations underlying much of right-wing European politics in the course of the twentieth-century's third decade from the subaltern perspective of those experiencing postcolonial and post-war psychosocial alienation. By the same token, I will also examine how Beckett's resistance took the form of a conscious dehegemonising and a social-ethical resistance to the suppressions engendered by authoritarian rule - whether nationalist, colonialist or totalitarian in derivation. Exploring the extent to which the Beckettian protagonist resists ideological interpellation, I will show how Beckett's novels and short stories trace the psychic dilemma of his characters when confronted by the overarching and institutionalised ideologies of British colonialism, Irish nationalism, European imperialism and inter-war totalitarianism. My postcolonial reading of Molloy and The Unnamable will focus on the socio-ethical implications of the oppositional identity binaries which inform these novels' dyadic structure. I will also explore the impact of the psychosocial consequences of war upon Europe's metropolitan citizens. In particular, J will consider the socio-cultural tension generated by the conflict between old and new world orders, the reverberations of which can be heard - however faintly - within the Beckettian text.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available