This book examines Samuel Beckett’s unique lesson in courage in the wake of humanism’s postwar crisis—the courage to go on living even after experiencing life as a series of catastrophes.
Rabaté, a former president of the Samuel Beckett Society and a leading scholar of modernism, explores the whole range of Beckett’s plays, novels, and essays. He places Beckett in a vital philosophical conversation that runs from Bataille to Adorno, from Kant and Sade to Badiou. At the same time, he stresses Beckett’s inimitable sense of metaphysical comedy.
Foregrounding Beckett’s decision to write in French, Rabaté inscribes him in a continental context marked by a “writing degree zero” while showing the prescience and ethical import of Beckett’s tendency to subvert the “human” through the theme of the animal. Beckett’s “declaration of inhuman rights,” he argues, offers the funniest mode of expression available to us today.
Think, Pig! is a playful and incisive guide to Beckett’s work and is sure to be of interest to newcomers and seasoned scholars alike. Rabaté demonstrates an encyclopedic grasp of scholarship in the field, while bringing a personal touch through related anecdotes and an accessible style…It is as fresh, meaty and loaded with ethical predicament as one of Beckett’s carefully folded ham sandwiches.
Times Literary Supplement
Very few critics have all the qualities and competencies required to engage fully with the entirety Beckett’s work in all genres: a detailed familiarity with Beckett’s texts in both English and French; a sensitivity to his linguistic, stylistic and thematic manoeuvres; an encyclopaedic knowledge of his intellectual context; an awareness of the range and detail of Beckett studies; and an ability to write with refinement and wit. It is clear from this remarkable book that Jean-Michel Rabaté is one of those few.
Derek Attridge, University of York
"Think, Pig!" In Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Pozzo fires this command at Lucky, his tethered slave, who responds with an outburst of logorrhea that reduces Western philosophy to gobbledygook. Pozzo's command raises many of the questions that Jean-Michel Rabaté investigates in this learned and inventive study of Beckett among the philosophers.