'All that Inner Space One Never Sees': Beckett's Inhuman Domain

Ulrika Maude*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
153 Downloads (Pure)


Beckett’s prose, drama, correspondence and working notes contain numerous references to processes that pertain to unconscious, involuntary bodily functionality and materiality. In this respect, the body’s viscera and their processes cannot properly be said to belong to the subject, and yet everything over which we have agential control is premised on these deeper vegetative or physiological processes; thought and feeling, as Molloy puts it, ‘dance their sabbath’ in the ‘caverns’ of the body. If the conception of the ‘human’ is premised on rationality, then the viscera are non-human, object-like. Beckett’s anti-rationalist emphasis on affective, visceral experience in How It Is (along with the novel’s veiled allusions to Pavlov’s conditioning and Watson’s behaviourism) operates in tension with the more elevated intertextual references that signpost the humanist tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalSamuel Beckett Today/Aujourd'hui
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science


  • affect
  • behaviourism
  • reflexes
  • viscera
  • How it is


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