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Shoshana Benjamin (Ben-Gurion University - Israel)
Of the possible directions that Beckett criticism might take in the foreseeable future, one that holds special promise involves a paradoxical breaking ahead by moving backwards. A return to the past – with a difference – may well be in the cards, first, to a classical ideal of literary study, specifically, the derivation of hidden meaning, and second, to the early beginnings of Beckett criticism when readers sought to determine the meaning of individual works, or parts thereof, freely and unselfconsciously. Contemporary Beckett studies tend to shun this type of practice, largely owing to the shifts that have taken place in literary theory and critical priorities (e.g., the new agenda entailed by postmodernist developments), combined with a sense of fatigue and a certain letdown with the results yielded by decades of interpretation. A case in point is Raymond Federman, a once avid seeker who renounced the pursuit of meaning, on the grounds that there is nothing to pursue.
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