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Title: The literature of dissolution : sickness in Samuel Beckett's fiction
Author: Herbert, Jean Schultz
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1982
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Beckett's art is predicated on his understanding and use of sickness in both its literal and figurative forms. In this thesis I deal critically with all of Beckett's major fiction, as well as with several lesser-known works. In the first chapter I cite evidence of Beckett's early preoccupation with physical illness and suggest a correlation between this preoccupation and his use of religious language and imagery. In Chapter Two I discuss the major women characters, who are portrayed as healthy and robust and are contrasted with the moribund heroes. In the next chapters, on Murphy and Watt, the subject of mental illness is examined. In these and the later chapters, Beckett's sense of play and his use of humour are explored within the context of the theme of sickness and dissolution. The theme of dissolution is reiterated in the structure of the trilogy and the transformation of Moran into the Unnamable. The dissolution of the physical self is related to the dissolution of the material world and in Chapter Thirteen I explore Beckett's use of ruins to this purpose. The disintegration of the body and of the world finds its correlative in Beckett's rendering of language. Beckett's style exposes the process of the search for silence as a search for health and a disintegration of syntax. Sickness is seen as chaos and health as "the silence of which the universe is made." (Molloy p. 122).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature