Waiting for Godot and the fascist aesthetics of the body

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

While Samuel Beckett’s pained and impaired bodies have received previous scholarly attention, most notably in the context of his philosophical scepticism or his own medical history, little critical work to date has read these damaged bodies in the wartime context of his formative years. German and French fascist bodily aesthetics established an able-bodied ideology of corporeal perfection preceding and during World War II, which sought to eliminate the damaged or impaired body from the national self-consciousness. This chapter argues that Beckett, having been exposed to both German and French fascist bodily aesthetics between 1936 and 1945, expressed his resistance to this system of thought via the pained and impaired bodies that he placed on his post-war stage. In contrast to the physically perfect and socially obedient fascist body, Waiting for Godot (1953) presents a range of impaired human figures which are politically resistant by way of their visibility and their refusal to be neatly contained within a prescribed social choreography.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeckett and Politics
EditorsWilliam Davies, Helen Bailey
Place of Publication9783030471125
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)9783030471095
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Samuel Beckett
  • Waiting for Godot
  • fascism


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