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Beckett, War Memory, and the State of Exception

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JournalJournal of Modern Literature
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Aug 2018
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2019
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)129-145
Original languageEnglish


Many of Samuel Beckett’s texts are infused with the political knowledge and experiences of their author, and remain tied to forms of war memory that resonate with conflicts past and present. Yet the type of political situation that Beckett pondered most consistently over the course of his career remains connected not to states of war, but to states of exception. The state of chronic suspension that has come to characterize his postwar texts has particularly powerful historical and transnational underpinnings, and owes much to the cultural memory and political legacies of states of siege and emergency that have made so much of modern history.

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