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Title: Metaphysical comedy : Samuel Beckett and Fyodor Dostoevsky
Author: Gosteva, Ekaterina
ISNI:       0000 0004 9356 1607
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis investigates the connection between Beckett's comedy and Dostoevsky's novels in the light of René Girard's theory of metaphysical desire. While focusing on Beckett's prose of the 1930s, this study begins with the typology of laughter in Watt. With the help of this passage (employed as a critical tool), the subject of Beckett's comedy is preliminarily defined as 'The Unhappy Consciousness'. In Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, this term is stated with regards to the functions of laughter as a negative response to a threat from a hostile phenomenal world. 'The risus purus', which Beckett celebrates as 'the laugh of laughs', reveals itself as a satirical attack at Kant's rational cosmology and Hegel's phenomenology. A further investigation into this structure provides a link between the genre of comedy in general, Beckett's comic form and Girard's theory of mimetic desire, based on the works of Cervantes, Flaubert, Stendhal, Proust and Dostoevsky. The works of these novelists allowed René Girard to articulate a concrete theorization of desire, which binds together literary and anthropological questions. Beckett's engagement with Dostoevsky remains a blind spot in Beckett studies. Although as early as Proust, Beckett attempted to link Proust and Dostoevsky as the writers whose technique he defined as 'negative and comic', the scarcity of his critical comments on Dostoevsky has been an obstacle for scholars trying to identify and analyse their relationship. This study hopes to reveal that Beckett's enthusiastic comments on the Russian novelist are only the tip of the iceberg whose bigger part is hidden in the deeper waters of Beckett's fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral