Bridging Music and Language in Samuel Beckett’s Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume


Samuell Beckett Bridge, by D464-Darren Hall [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. The bridge's resemblance to a harp lying on its side presents an apt metaphor for Lucy Jeffrey's argument.

Samuell Beckett Bridge, by D464-Darren Hall [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. The bridge’s resemblance to a harp lying on its side presents an apt metaphor for Lucy Jeffrey’s argument.

How does Samuel Beckett connect literature and music whilst upholding their separateness? This is the key question explored by Lucy Jeffrey in her article in the latest issue of our open-access Postgraduate English journal.

Beckett’s use of music in his late teleplays Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume forms part of his aesthetics of failure. This paper explores Beckett’s compositional style and asks how and why his use of music complicates the overall shape of the work. Beckett at once fragments and loops extracts of Beethoven and Schubert to dictate the thoughts and movements of Figure and Dreamer, the protagonists in these plays. Music’s temporal form and spatial realisations are considered in relation to Dreamer and Figure’s memories and sense of imprisonment. Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida are employed to unpack this entropic and purposely unsettling form.

This article is available to download free in issue 32 of our open access Postgraduate English journal. For more articles from this issue, and the complete archive going back 15 years, find the journal online.

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