Beckett: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)

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Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) is one of the most important twentieth century writers. Seen as both a modernist and postmodernist, his work has influenced generations of playwrights, novelists and poets. Despite his notorious difficulty, Beckett famously refused to offer his readers any help in interpreting his work. Beckett's texts examine key philosophical-humanist questions but his writing is challenging, perplexing and often intimidating for readers. This guide offers students reading Beckett a clear starting point from which to confront some of the most difficult plays and novels produced in the twentieth century, texts which often appear to work on the very edge of meaninglessness. Beginning with a general introduction to Beckett, his work and its contexts, the guide looks at each of the major genres in turn, analyzing key works chronologically. It explains why Beckett's texts can seem so impenetrable and confusing, and focuses on key questions and issues. Giving an accessible account of both the form and content of Beckett's work, this guide will enable students to begin to come to grips with this fascinating but daunting writer.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Boulter is Associate Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Review:

"Jonathan Boulter has written an expert, but nimble and accessible guide to a full range of Beckett's work for page and stage. Philosophically alert, yet staying close to the pith and quick of Beckett's writing, he has illuminating things to say about every major text. He familiarises the reader with the principal currents of Beckett interpretation, while offering, in the melancholic experience of unresolved trauma, his own interpretative key to the work. Boulter has pulled off the enviable trick of explaining the many perplexities of Beckett's writing, while never merely explaining them away." - Professor Steven Connor, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, UK

"Always unpretentious and never condescending, Boulter manages both to convey personal, original insights, and to introduce the most important trends of interpretation within Beckett studies. There are no pat answers here, but rather, what is truly needful: an acute sense of why Beckett's questions must be asked. At once accessible, sophisticated, and committed, this excellent guide will be appreciated both within the academy and without." - Dr Daniel Katz, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, UK

Mention —Book News, February 2009

"[this book] aims to offer students a clear and accessible starting point for studying Beckett's work"
"the book's approach is clear and highly readable, given the complexity of the subject matter"
Cambridge Journals, May 2009 (Ben Poore)

Briefly reviewed in the Year's work in English Studies journal, vol 89, No. 1 '[It] looks more widely across Beckett's entire oeuvre and tends to concentrate more on the novels than the plays'

"Jonathan Boulter has written an expert, but nimble and accessible guide to a full range of Beckett’s work for page and stage. Philosophically alert, yet staying close to the pith and quick of Beckett’s writing, he has illuminating things to say about every major text. He familiarises the reader with the principal currents of Beckett interpretation, while offering, in the melancholic experience of unresolved trauma, his own interpretative key to the work. Boulter has pulled off the enviable trick of explaining the many perplexities of Beckett’s writing, while never merely explaining them away." - Professor Steven Connor, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, UK

Mention –Book News, February 2009

"[this book] aims to offer students a clear and accessible starting point for studying Beckett's work"
"the book's approach is clear and highly readable, given the complexity of the subject matter"
Cambridge Journals, May 2009 (Sanford Lakoff)

Briefly reviewed in the Year’s work in English Studies journal, vol 89, No. 1 '[It] looks more widely across Beckett’s entire oeuvre and tends to concentrate more on the novels than the plays’

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