"The culmination of Romantic agony": Internal Posture in Samuel Beckett's Murphy, Waiting for Godot, and the narratives in Stories and Texts for Nothing

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Even though the idea of a constant quality in the oeuvre of an author is recurrent in several literary theories and analyses of Samuel Beckett's work in particular, Jérôme Meizoz' concept of internal posture has not yet been extensively applied in literary studies. This master thesis aims to explicitly address this concept by applying it to three case studies taken from Beckett's corpus of writing, namely Murphy (1938), Waiting for Godot (1952), and the narratives in Stories and Texts for Nothing (1955). In order to reveal how internal posture is constructed in these three texts, this research analyses paratextuality, major themes, and style separately for each case study. Comparing and contrasting these findings shows that Beckett's internal posture embodies intellectuality (especially philosophy) through a continuous addressing of the distinction between physicality and mental freedom, existential pessimism, the meaninglessness of life, and the subsequent estrangement. These themes and sentiments are fortified by a style that includes both tragedy and comedy. The absurdity and meaninglessness are interpreted in a more pessimistic light in the latter two case studies than in Murphy, which reflects the difference between Beckett's earlier and later writing. Meizoz' formulation of internal posture does not provide the desired guidance in terms of method or additional terminology, however, which is why this research resorts to a combination of close-reading and literature review. The research conducted in this master thesis might not reveal new insights for the separate case studies but attempts something innovative by aiming to reveal a constant quality across texts in an oeuvre addressed as internal posture.
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