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 Publications

 Volume 17/1, includes forum "Narrative Selves"
 January 2019

 Volume 16/2, includes forum on Monika Fludernik's Towards a 'Natural' Narratology
 June 2018

 Volume 16/1 includes forum "Modernity and Mobility: Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum "Bildung and the State"
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

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 Barbara Franchi

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 Daný van Dam

 Then and Now
 Murray Baumgarten

 Modernity and Mobility
 Murray Baumgarten and Barbara Franchi

 Samuel Beckett’s Invention of Nothing
 Jacob Hovind

 The Jewish Petenera
 Einat Davidi

 The Sound of Translation
 Alexander Ullman

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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 16, issue 2 (January 2018) : 65-87
Samuel Beckett’s Invention of Nothing
Molloy, Literary History, and a Beckettian Theory of Character
Jacob Hovind
Rubric A: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
Rubric B: The English Novel

Abstract
While it has become a commonplace among Beckett’s critics to read his novels as inquiries into the unstable nature of selfhood and identity, this tendency takes for granted the novelistic specificity of these works. Beckett consistently maintained his works’ generic specificity, and as his interested in contemporary philosophy was ambivalent, his work demands critical reappraisal not through the lens of philosophy but through that of the works’ ongoing conversation with their own literary inheritance. This article begins by exploring what kind of questions might arise from reading the “novelness” of the prose works. What do they have to tell us about the work of fiction as such? And more specifically, what may they tell us about this unique kind of novelistic being, the literary character? Framing Beckett’s fiction not within philosophical discussions of selfhood but within literary-critical analyses of character’s uniquely fictive mode of being, I analyze the characters of his novels not as people but distinctly as literary characters and ultimately argue that Beckett’s characters gain their fictive semblance of life, their illusion of personhood, by reference not to extratextual subjects but to other literary characters. Reading the role of literary-historical allusions in the creation of Molloy’s protagonist, the article suggests that Beckett offers us something like a theory of its mode of being, a means of considering this uncanny way in which character lives as a uniquely fictional entity, one whose existence amounts to the invention of something out of nothing.
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