Samuel Beckett: Exile and Experiment

David Wheatley

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Samuel Beckett: Exile and Experiment

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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In October 1937, Samuel Beckett went to Paris but was forced to return to Ireland almost immediately to appear in court in connection with the libel suit filed by his uncle ‘Boss’ Sinclair against Oliver St John Gogarty. In Ireland, however, he was ridiculed in court as a ‘bawd and blasphemer’ from Paris, and decided to never live again in Ireland, although he could not completely disentangle himself from the land of his birth. Beckett's early career was characterised by the ritual denunciation of all or almost all things Irish in ‘Recent Irish Poetry’ (1934). In 1935, he published Echo's Bones, which contains poems that dwell repeatedly on love as a manifestation of exile-from-self. In Beckett and Contemporary Irish Writing, Stephen Watt compared two Irish poets, Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon, to Beckett, who has also influenced the works of Thomas Kinsella, indicating subterranean links to the crystalline economy of early Irish lyrics.

Keywords: Samuel Beckett; Ireland; Irish poetry; Echo's Bones; love; exile; Stephen Watt; Derek Mahon; Paul Muldoon; Thomas Kinsella

Article.  7185 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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