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Dario Del Degan (University of Toronto)
A new phase in the scholarship on the work of Samuel Beckett began in 1996 with James Knowlson’s finding that the visual arts held a prominent position in the artist’s aesthetic development. The biographer’s discovery and analysis of six notebooks/diaries that Beckett kept during a six month pilgrimage to Germany as a young man in 1936-37, together with insights provided by the artist himself during the composition of his memoirs, initiated a new discourse in Beckettian aesthetics; one that converges on visual art principles. The revelation of Beckett’s profound appreciation for the phenomenon of perception generated by visual art accounts for his distillation of language in his prose, and for his attention to the strong visual component of the stage. A Beckett play in performance displaces the cause and effect structure of traditional drama with the concentration of the dramatic action into a precise stage picture. Based on the knowledge that visual art influenced Beckett’s stage imagery, this paper investigates the ways in which the theatre offered the playwright the possibility of creating “staged paintings” by examining his interplay of text and image in That Time to generate a theatrical situation wherein images engender words and language create images.
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