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The Topos of the Mound in Samuel Beckett’s Writing



University of Bergen


This essay aims to bring to the fore the varied and broad valences of the ‘mound’ in Beckett’s oeuvre. In my reading, the mound functions as a profuse, multi-purpose symbol, that coalesces into a variety of topoi indicative of Mother Earth, that figure in the thighs, the nipples, the pubis/pubic area and bones, ruins, ants, birth, fetus, and elemental maternal death. I embarked upon the present study before the commencement of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, a collaborative project between the Centre for Manuscript Genetics at the University of Antwerp, the Beckett International Foundation, the University of Reading and Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin. Valorising the author’s editing, additions, notes and comments provided by the upcoming digitalized manuscripts of Beckett in 2014 and 2015, I expect to contribute to the work in progress, and to the corpus of Beckett studies in general, especially those approaching his bilingual works. It is my contention that the frequency of certain terms, the diagrams that Beckett included in some of his letters (as is the case of the mound in Happy Days), shed significant light on the nature of his symbolism.

Keywords: topos; mound; rock/stone; earth; birth; death; fetus; Venus; ants; ruins



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