Moments for Nothing: Samuel Beckett and the End Times (Paperback)

Moments for Nothing: Samuel Beckett and the End Times By Gabriele Schwab Cover Image
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Samuel Beckett's work has entranced generations of readers with its portrayal of the end times. Beckett's characters are preoccupied with death, and the specters of cataclysm and extinction overshadow their barren, bleak worlds. Yet somehow, they endure, experiencing surreal and often comic repetitions that seem at once to confront finitude and the infinite, up to the limits of existence.

Gabriele Schwab draws on decades of close engagement with Beckett to explore how his work speaks to our current existential anxieties and fears. Interweaving critical analysis with personal reflections, she shows how Beckett's writing provides unexpected resources for making sense of personal and planetary catastrophes. Moments for Nothing examines the ways Beckett's works have taken on new meaning in an era of crises--climate change, environmental devastation, and the COVID-19 pandemic--that are defined by both paralyzing stasis and pervasive uncertainty. They also offer a bracing depiction of aging and the end of life, exploring loneliness, vulnerability, and decay. Beckett's particular vision of the apocalypse and his sense of persistence, Schwab argues, help us understand our times and even, perhaps, provide sanctuary and solace.

Moments for Nothing features insightful close readings of iconic works such as Endgame, Happy Days, and the trilogy, as well as lesser-known writings including the thirty-five-second play Breath, which Schwab reconsiders in light of the pandemic.

About the Author

Gabriele Schwab is distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, where she holds appointments in comparative literature, anthropology, English, and European languages and studies. She is the author of several books, most recently Radioactive Ghosts (2020). Her previous Columbia University Press books are Imaginary Ethnographies: Literature, Culture, and Subjectivity (2012) and Haunting Legacies: Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma (2010).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780231211611
ISBN-10: 0231211619
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: October 24th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English