Living Flesh: The Human-Nonhuman Proximity in Beckett’s Four Stories

Anderton, Joseph (2020) Living Flesh: The Human-Nonhuman Proximity in Beckett’s Four Stories. Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, 32 (2). pp. 192-206. ISSN 1875-7405

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This essay examines the human-nonhuman proximity emerging from Beckett’s representation of a deconstructed human being and his encounters with nonhuman animals in the “The Expelled,” “The Calmative,” “The End” and “First Love.” With reference to Simone Weil’s categories from The Need for Roots, I show how Beckett’s narrator is lacking physical, psychological, socio-political and philosophical aspects associated with normative human being, which result in a precarious, imprecise identity. In light of this dehumanisation, I close read passages featuring nonhuman animals to argue that while they emphasise the narrator’s marginalisation from human community, they also reveal profound alienation from other animals too. The destabilisation of specific identity, I argue, initiates a reevaluation of the narrator’s place among living beings in general and prefigures the multispecies connectedness advocated in twenty-first century ecocritical reviews of the human-nonhuman divide, such as Donna Haraway’s ‘chthulucene.’

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref via Jisc Publications Router ** History: ppub 30-07-2020; issued 30-07-2020.
Identification Number:
1 May 2020Accepted
30 July 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: dehumanisation; animals; roots; kind; ecology
Subjects: CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-01 - English studies (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > School of English
SWORD Depositor: JISC PubRouter
Depositing User: JISC PubRouter
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2020 14:24
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:26

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