'Prey to Communications': Samuel Beckett and the Simulation of Psychosis

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This article examines Beckett's prolonged inquiry into the phenomenological conditions of mental illness. If psychosis initially manifests as an explicit thematic concern in Murphy, it later becomes a formal principle that shapes Beckett's experiments with alternative narrative structures and electronic media. In radio, Beckett finds resources to reproduce for his audience the phenomenological conditions of auditory hallucination and ‘thought transmission’ that his earlier novelistic simulations of madness could only describe. While offering a rationale for the series of formal transformations that structured Beckett's career, this article also examines the convergence of electronic media and psychopathology and their ethical consequences for clinical conceptions of disability and the human.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-249
JournalModernist Cultures
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • mental illness
  • disability
  • narrative
  • radio


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