Beckett and Musicality

October 30, 2020
Beckett and Musicality

Discussion concerning the ’musicality’ of Samuel Beckett’swriting now constitutes a familiar critical trope in BeckettStudies, one that continues to be informed by the still-emergingevidence of Beckett’s engagement with music throughout his personaland literary life, and by the ongoing interest of musicians inBeckett’s work. In Beckett’s drama and prose writings, therelationship with music plays out in implicit and explicit ways.Several of his works incorporate canonical music by composers suchas Schubert and Beethoven. Other works integrate music as acompositional element, in dialogue or tension with text and image,while others adopt rhythm, repetition and pause to the extent thatthe texts themselves appear to be ’scored’. But what, precisely,does it mean to say that a piece of prose or writing for theatre,radio or screen, is ’musical’? The essays included in this bookexplore a number of ways in which Beckett’s writings engage withand are engaged by musicality, discussing familiar and lessfamiliar works by Beckett in detail. Ranging from the scholarly tothe personal in their respective modes of response, and informed byapproaches from performance and musicology, literary studies,philosophy, musical composition and creative practice, these essaysprovide a critical examination of the ways we might comprehendmusicality as a definitive and often overlooked attributethroughout Beckett’s work.