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Palgrave Macmillan

The Haptic Aesthetic in Samuel Beckett's Drama

ISBN 9781137275325
Publication Date June 2013
Formats Ebook (EPUB) Hardcover Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series New Interpretations of Beckett in 21st C

In their sparse and isolated spaces, Samuel Beckett's figures imagine the touch of a lost love or dream of the comfort and care that the hands of a dear one might bring. Applying philosophical writings that feature sensation, particularly touch, Trish McTighe examines how Beckett's later work for stage and screen dramatizes moments of contact between self and self, self and world, and self and other. With implications for how gender and ethics can be approached within Beckett's aesthetic, this study explores the employment of haptic imagery as an alternative to certain dominant codes of visual representation.

Trish McTighe is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Drama in the Department of Film, Theatre, and Television at the University of Reading, UK.

Introduction: Haptics, Aesthetics, Philosophy
1. Eye: Failing, Myopic, Grainy
2. Ear: Full of Relentless Echoes
3. Mouth: Trying to Tell it All, Failing
4. Skin, Space, Place
5. On the One Hand . . . (The One that Writes the Body)
6. On the Other Hand . . . (The One that Refuses to Touch)
Conclusion: Departing Bodies, Between Doubting Thomas and Noli me Tangere


"McTighe, in an elegantly written, wide-ranging study of Beckett's dramas, focusing mainly on the late plays but relevant to his entire corpus, provides an original and much-needed way of approaching the complex issues related to Beckett's depiction of bodies - at once material yet intangible, solid yet fragmented, there yet not there - and the equally complex issues arising from such tensions and contradictions. Building on theories of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy, McTighe argues for the importance of the haptic or tactile in approaching not only the physical but also the philosophical, religious, ethical, artistic, and performative forms and failures of contacts and connections through touch in Beckett's works. In carefully-argued close readings of selected plays, divided into chapters according to a particular sensory organ of touch - eye, ear, mouth, skin, hand - she illustrates how Beckett creates bodies as material presences which deny the possibilities of their own materiality, as delineations which ultimately point to the impossibility of delineation of somatic experience in art and life." - Linda Ben-Zvi, Professor Emerita, Theatre Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel"The Haptic Aesthetic in Samuel Beckett's Drama is a beautifully written and imaginatively structured exploration of acts of touch or not touching in Beckett's drama for stage and screen. The book's striking originality and significance lie in its lively engagement with a rich set of aesthetic and critical writing on the haptic, making an important contribution to studies of Beckett and phenomenology, aesthetics, embodiment, and technology. Nancy's interpretation of touch connects it with Christian iconography and McTighe weaves discussions of doubting Thomas and the Noli me Tangere scene between Christ and Mary Magdalene throughout the book, exploring touch at the borderline between visceral flesh and the resurrected 'body of light', the withdrawal of touch, and forms of tactful or ethical touching. Offering compelling new readings of Beckett's drama for stage, film, and television, McTighe demonstrates beyond doubt the centrality of touch in all its senses and complexities to Beckett's work." - Anna McMullan, Professor of Theatre, University of Reading, UK
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