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Modernist ObjectsLiterature, Art, Culture$
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Noëlle Cuny and Xavier Kalck

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781949979503

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

“Such density of furniture defeats imagination”

“Such density of furniture defeats imagination”

Beckett’s Post-War Room and the Inheritance of Things

Chapter:
(p.45) Chapter Two “Such density of furniture defeats imagination”
Source:
Modernist Objects
Author(s):

Martin Schauss

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.003.0003

Sceptical of the dichotomous narrative on literary objects that draws a strict line between “realist” commodity affluence and a “modernist” devotion to the integrity of “things,” this essay looks at Samuel Beckett’s post-war prose to find the dregs of bourgeois realism sedimented in the aftermath of two world wars, and the “modernist” promise to the object ridiculed. Beckett’s texts can be seen to incorporate a literary and mimetic object-world that is largely spectral, unreconciled with itself. The tramp’s object-encounters in the stories and novels oscillate between the “realist” cluttered room and “modernist” objects, whose integrity, ludicrously, seems to be at stake at the very moment the “self” disintegrates. Insisting instead on the literal, economic side of the tramp’s material depletion, this essay extracts the tension between the objectified social content of realism and the deadened cliché of the modernist “thing.” At stake is not so much Beckett’s critique of two aesthetic categories as a recognition that neither had an unproblematic relationship with the object in the first place.

Keywords:   Beckett, objects, thingness, realism, modernism, Balzac, cliché

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