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Oppenheim, L. (2008). Life as Trauma, Art as Mastery: Samuel Beckett and the Urgency of Writing. Contemp. Psychoanal., 44(3):419-442.

(2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 44(3):419-442

Life as Trauma, Art as Mastery: Samuel Beckett and the Urgency of Writing

Lois Oppenheim, Ph.D.

The aim of this paper is to substitute a psychoanalytic frame for the existential and even nihilistic context in which Beckett's writing has long been explored. When considered in light of Beckett's life experience, what comes to the fore is why he wrote as he did—plays and fiction in which physical decrepitude is the sine qua non of each characterization and stasis the plight of all who inhabit the author's imaginative world. Philosophical interpretations of the metaphor for the human condition that characterizes the ensemble of Beckett's work are always of interest. But why does this metaphor predominate? How was making art of therapeutic value for the author? In a word, what was the origin of his preoccupation and what dynamic purpose did its textual and theatrical rendering serve?

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