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Beckett and musicality

posted on 2023-06-08, 22:20 authored by Sara Jane BailesSara Jane Bailes, Nicholas TillNicholas Till
Discussion concerning the ’musicality’ of Samuel Beckett’s writing now constitutes a familiar critical trope in Beckett Studies, one that continues to be informed by the still-emerging evidence of Beckett’s engagement with music throughout his personal and literary life, and by the ongoing interest of musicians in Beckett’s work. In Beckett’s drama and prose writings, the relationship with music plays out in implicit and explicit ways. Several of his works incorporate canonical music by composers such as Schubert and Beethoven. Other works integrate music as a compositional element, in dialogue or tension with text and image, while others adopt rhythm, repetition and pause to the extent that the texts themselves appear to be ’scored’. But what, precisely, does it mean to say that a piece of prose or writing for theatre, radio or screen, is ’musical’? The essays included in this book explore a number of ways in which Beckett’s writings engage with and are engaged by musicality, discussing familiar and less familiar works by Beckett in detail. Ranging from the scholarly to the personal in their respective modes of response, and informed by approaches from performance and musicology, literary studies, philosophy, musical composition and creative practice, these essays provide a critical examination of the ways we might comprehend musicality as a definitive and often overlooked attribute throughout Beckett’s work.


Publication status

  • Published





Place of publication

Farnham, Surrey, England/Burlington, US



Department affiliated with

  • English Publications


his is an edited book edited by Sara Jane Bailes, Nicholas Till

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Sara Jane Bailes, Nicholas Till

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