One's Own Company: Agency, Identity and the Middle Voice in the Work of Samuel Beckett

Barry, Elizabeth
December 2007
Journal of Modern Literature;Winter2007, Vol. 31 Issue 2, p115
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
The concept of the middle voice, a voice denoting experience that falls between the designations of active and passive, subjective and objective, is a particularly useful one in thinking about Beckett's work. This article begins with an investigation of the linguistic concept of the middle voice and the semantic and metaphorical significance given to it in modern linguistic, psychological, and literary thought. It will then argue for its usefulness for thinking about two related aspects of Beckett's work: first, the questions of agency and the will that recur throughout Beckett's oeuvre, and second, how Beckett's early preoccupation with witness—the idea of having to be seen in order to be—transforms itself in the solitary worlds of Beckett's later works.


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