Revista Egitania Sciencia - Volume 20 | ARTICLE

Title: BEYOND THE METAPHOR: THE IMPORTANCE OF CHESS IN THE WORK OF SAMUEL BECKETT

Author: Pedro Querido (pedro_sq@hotmail.com)
Pedro Querido (MA in English Literature, University of London, 2009; MA in Teaching English and German, New University of Lisbon, 2012) is a student in an international PhD programme in Comparative Studies; the recipient of a scholarship from the Portuguese Funding Agency (FCT); and a member of the Centre for Comparative Studies of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. His PhD research focuses on the theme of old age in absurdist literature, and his research interests include early twentieth-century fiction, comparative literature and the absurd in literature.
Publication: Revista Egitania Sciencia - Volume 20

Abstract:
Much has been written on chess as a theme or motif in some of Samuel Beckett’s works, namely in Murphy (1938) and Endgame (1957), and most readings of these works seem to focus solely on the indubitable metaphorical force of chess, or rather of the popular conception of chess. Yet to fail to think of chess as chess, i.e. as a complex system in its own right, one which boasts a long history, millions of current professional and casual players, a vibrant community and even competing schools of thought which fundamentally differ in the way they perceive and theorise the same game, is to fail to engage with the text in a way that does justice to Beckett. This article advocates a more balanced approach for the critical analysis of Endgame in general and the game of chess in Murphy in particular. Such an approach, it is argued, should include a more solid knowledge of chess theory and practice, and some examples of the kind of interpretations and insights that it could yield are discussed.

Keywords: Samuel Beckett; chess; literature; Murphy; Endgame




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