‘le maigre dos tourné à l’humanité’: Eleutheria, la souffrance, et son public

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This article examines how Beckett’s first completed play Eleutheria refuses a simplistic post-war humanism by manipulating the relationship between stage and imagined audience. The shift to writing for the theatre marked for Beckett a new and more confrontational engagement with the French public, and Eleutheria directly implicates its imagined spectators in its onstage activity, rendering them complicit in the spectacle of suffering before them. This article, then, contests humanist readings of Eleutheria,alongside the critical commonplace that sees it as an atypically dramaturgically conventional play within Beckett’s corpus. In fact, Beckett turns to the theatre medium as a means of calling attention to the human ability to disengage from another being’s suffering.
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)176-191
Number of pages16
JournalSamuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui (SBT/A)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020


  • Eleutheria
  • audience
  • humanism
  • suffering
  • World War II

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