The Painted Word : Samuel Beckett's Dialogue with Art

October 30, 2020
The Painted Word : Samuel Beckett's Dialogue with Art

The Painted Word examines Samuel Beckett's relationship with thevisual arts, in an effort to shed new light on the author's workand on his thinking on aesthetics. Lois Oppenheim argues thatBeckett was a profoundly visual artist whose work reflects apreoccupation with the visual as a paradigm of creativity. Shepresents the three principal forms taken by Samuel Beckett'sdialogue with art, and more precisely, painting: his criticalwriting on art, the function of art in his narrative and theatricalwriting, and his indirect "collaborations" with painters.The volume's starting point is the current debate over Beckett'splace with regard to modernism and postmodernism. Contextualizinghis practice of art with his thinking on art, Oppenheim resituatesthe debate in conjunction with philosopher Merleau-Ponty's writingson painting and reveals the unifying force of all Beckett's workthat resides in a play of visbility. Beckett's thinking on art hadeverything to do with his aims as a creative writer. Oppenheimshows that the classic Beckettian themes-language (its expressivityor lack thereof), identity (its, at best, tenuous link to afragmented self), and the subject-object dichotomy-are all modeledon the sensory perspective of the eye. And that it is the verbalfiguration of reality as vision that constitutes, whatever thegenre, the Beckettian drama.The volume includes several reproductions of artists' renderingsof Beckett's texts and works by Giacometti and Bram Van Velde, twoof which were owned by Beckett. Broadly interdisciplinary, ThePainted Word will appeal to those interested in aesthetics and thephilosophy of art as well in Beckett's work.