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Casement, P.J. (1982). Samuel Beckett's Relationship to his Mother-Tongue. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:35-44.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:35-44

Samuel Beckett's Relationship to his Mother-Tongue

Patrick J. Casement

SUMMARY

The novels of Samuel Beckett are examined in the light of the details of his life as portrayed in the Biography by Deirdre Bair. In his writings there are frequent references to mothers, many of which are contemptuous. In his life we find that Beckett felt suffocated by his complicated attachment to his mother, to which nothing short of a geographical distance offered any hope of remedy

and that alone was not enough. It is suggested in this paper that Beckett's difficulties in writing in English, his going to live in France and his abandoning English (his mother-tongue) for French as his primary literary language, reflect his search for a 'transitional space' in which he could recover a capacity for creative play in language. This begins to emerge with a new richness upon his eventual translation of his French writings into English, which he started only after his mother had died. In this, to begin with, he needed the help of a co-translator before he could eventually translate his own work into English on his own. There are striking parallels between this and the interpretive work upon dreams in analysis.

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