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Enoch Brater (University of Michigan)
Attempting to track and trace the profound Romantic strain in Beckett’s writing is ripe with as much peril as allure. For the endeavor to do so involves at the outset a reconsideration of just what we may mean when we use a term like “Romanticism” in any critical endeavor. In Beckett’s case the early works reveal an almost systematic rejection of any easy definition of the term, frequently made manifest in the ironic and often deprecating allusions to (particularly British) romantic writers. In his later works, especially those written for the mechanical media, Beckett seems to have come to terms with his own romantic impulse, based largely on an acceptance of the poems of William Butler Yeats as well as the resolution he finds in the great German Romantics, much of this accompanied by the incorporation and validation of rich musical interludes drawn from Schubert and Beethoven. In this respect his work from 1958, Krapp’s Last Tape, displays a mediating function, a halfway point between Beckett’s uneasiness with his own Romantic impulse and its reconstruction and recuperation in his great late works for television and the live stage
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