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The Ideal Real: A Frustrated Impulse in Samuel Beckett's Writing

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image of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

Samuel Beckett's attraction to mysticism is most obvious in his interest in negative theology and the ; but it first presented itself in aesthetic rather than religious terms, through Proust's concept of the “ideal real,” as reflected in involuntary memory. For a time Beckett saw this as a viable aesthetic; that conviction was short-lived, but the “ideal real” left lasting traces on his work, though subject to increasing irony and the sense of the mind “devising.” In Beckett's most deliberate account of the transcendental experience, Arsene's moment in the sun in , the reality of the event is not in doubt but any validation of its meaning is emphatically withheld.


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