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Mark Nixon (University of Reading, UK)
‘The remains of trace’: intra- and intertextual transferences in Beckett’s Mirlitonnades manuscripts

A survey of the manuscript material kept toward the writing of the Mirlitonnades reveals how Beckett’s literary production mediates creativity through ‘the remains of trace[s]’ (Ill Seen Ill Said). The surviving thirty-six scraps of paper (ranging from parts of envelopes to cheroot packets) containing drafts of the short poems, as well as the draft material contained in the so-called ‘Sottisier’ notebook, allow a reconstruction of the elements that inform and develop out of those traces. What emerges is a genetic network of bio- and bibliographic contexts, as well as the convergence of the reading and the writing self. Thus the ‘Sottisier’ notebook, kept between 1976 and 1982, shows Beckett returning to a note-taking strategy first evident in the 1930s and sheds light on his use of source texts, some of which had already many years previously informed his writing (Schopenhauer, German poetry). Furthermore, the thematic clusters contained in the Mirlitonnades manuscripts also resurface in other texts written around this time (from …but the clouds… to Worstward Ho). Issues of light and dark, seeing and saying, life and death are transposed into the search for a way to ‘go on’, step after step and word after word. As a result, the Mirlitonnades manuscripts contain both intratextual as well as intertextual transferences which are operative through a confluence of psychological, geographical and literary contexts. This paper will conclude with an exploration of the value of a hypermedia presentation of the Mirlitonnades material, creating a full textual and visual body of a writing that does not ‘tear itself away from the remains of trace’.

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