The Soul of Representation
A Study of Samuel Beckett’s Text For Nothing
The article explores the way in which Samuel Becket (using the specific example of the late prose piece Texts for Nothing) draws within his writings a powerful critique of Dante’s Divine Comedy. In the light of this fascination with the art, outlook and philosophy of the great medieval poet, Beckett is able to develop his own approach to artistic production which constitutes a kind of anti-aesthetic. The article explores this connection and demonstrates how it leads Beckett to challenge the whole Western tradition of representation, which itself is intrinsically linked with the image of the human soul: an image embedded deep within culture and expressed throughout the history of European thought and art. Instead, in partial parody of Dante’s narrative, Beckett strips away the imagery and symbolism of both his drama and prose work in order to locate something of the ‘real’ beneath the trappings of representation.