Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Jonathan Boulter


This dissertation conjoins the two most dominant trends in the secondary criticism of Samuel Beckett today: the philosophical and historicist approaches to his work. It explores how the Reign of Terror that erupted during the French Revolution acts as a traumatic catalyst for key developments in modernist literature and continental philosophy of which the philosophical writing of Alain Badiou, the literary-critical writing of Maurice Blanchot, and the literary-narrative writing of Beckett are perhaps the most exemplary expressions. The overarching thesis that this dissertation defends is that Beckett’s post-war prose work in The Unnamable and Texts for Nothing is overshadowed by the language and logos of terror that, according to Blanchot, is constitutive of the experience of political and aesthetic modernity.