English Seminar Capstone Research Papers

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Capstone Project

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In his biography of Samuel Beckett's life, James Knowlson writes that Beckett failed miserably as a teacher; had Beckett not failed, he would have spent his life as a scholar, teaching and writing brilliant essays like his award winning Proust study. The sizable amount of literature on Beckett's creative writing, however, seems to indicate that Beckett's pedagogic failure metamorphosed into a dazzling success for the humanity, which so frequently themes his work, through literature. Yet, some groups, proponents of Christianity in particular, might have preferred for Beckett's influence to have trickled through the one or two schools in which he might have taught rather than to have flooded classrooms from Japan to Midwestern America, simply because the prototypical postmodern world of his work seemingly rejects the fundamental tenets of societies that ingest chicken after church as easily as the equally fatty truths obtained from the pulpit. Beckett's world, as Andrew Kennedy writes, is characterized by "the sense of a cosmic run-down, the loss of the human sense of the divine, and the breakdown of language itself", realities diametrically opposed to ideas like "Heart for God, mind for truth, friends for life, and service for eternity," the motto of an absolute-abiding liberal arts university in Ohio (Cedarville University Home Page). In light such absolute ideals, it is little wonder that proponents of Christianity find authors like Beckett difficult to swallow. Yet, if any group of beliefs could resonate with a writer like Beckett, it would seem that Christianity, with its emphasis in passages like John 1 and Philippians 2 on form and content, or as Abbot terms them, structure and meaning, two concepts with which Beckett wrestled his entire life would most dynamically speak to his work. And perhaps by critically assessing Beckett's world, Christians and others will find something underneath the "muck" of postmodernism sufficiently solid to prolong living in Murphy, to support a journey in How it is, and, eventually, to nourish a tree in Waiting for Godot. In each of these works, Beckett presents silence within the temporary postmodern paradigm as humanity's only reprieve from its own condition.


Postmodernism, Beckett

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