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Gontarski, S.E. and Anthony Uhlmann, Eds. Beckett after Beckett. Gainesville: U of Florida P, 2006. ix, 227 pp. $55.00 cloth.
Caselli, Daniela. Beckett's Dantes: Intertextuality in the Fiction and Criticism. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP, 2005. x, 240 pp. $74.95 cloth.
This article reviews two books, Beckett after Beckett, edited by S.E. Gontarski and Anthony Uhlmann, and Beckett's Dantes: Intertextuality in the Fiction and Criticism, by Daniela Caselli. Beckett after Beckett is an anthology of essays written since Samuel Beckett's death in 1989. Most of the essays approach Beckett's works through a discussion of images, afterimages, ghosts, or other elements that tend to linger after they should logically be gone. Beckett's Dantes is an analysis of the presence of Dante in Beckett's works, which Caselli expands into a discussion on the question of authority that underlies any author's use of quotations from or allusions to previous writers.
Keywords: Samuel Beckett / Dante Alighieri / intertextuality / image
In the necessarily abstract and obscure world of Beckett criticism, Gontarski and Uhlmann's anthology provides a collection of essays that is remarkably grounded and accessible while dealing directly with notions of the abstract in Beckett's work. The essays discuss the full gamut of Beckett-related topics, including issues related specifically to performance of his plays, the theory and philosophy present in his works, and perhaps most importantly, the nature of the artist and the author's role in creating literature.
The collection is divided into two parts: "Beckett and Theory" and "Beckett and Praxis." The common thread throughout all the critical essays Gontarski and Uhlmann chose to include, all written since Beckett's death less than two decades ago, is the question of what remains after someone or something has departed. In the appropriately titled introduction "Afterimages: Introducing Beckett's Ghosts," the editors explain that their "collection is organized around notions of the image and in particular the afterimage that lingers, as a memory, a haunting, a not-yet-vanished impression that merges with and changes the images that are forever being impressed upon us in the present.... It is something that lingers, haunting, no longer there but all the more there in not quite being absent" (3-4). The essays that compose Beckett after Beckett all, in varying degrees, deal with this concept of the afterimage.
The other guiding principle behind the anthology that Gontarski and Uhlmann describe is a persistent allusion to a dialogue with an idea Andre Breton presents in Nadja. The novel opens "with a search for self 'Who am I?' [Breton's] strategy was to create another, to imagine himself a ghost who haunts the streets of Paris wondering in turn 'whom "I haunt"'" (1). The purpose of …