Beckett's everyday psychopathology: reading male nervous hysteria in Murphy.
On 23 January 1934, samuel beckett, then twenty-eight years old, moved from Dublin to London to undertake a course of psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic (Fehsenfeld 175). He complained of a series of "severe anxiety symptoms, which he described in his opening session: a bursting, apparently arrhythmic heart, night sweats, shudders, panic, breathlessness, and, when his condition was at its most severe, total paralysis" (Knowlson 169). His subsequent two-year course of therapy with Wilfred Ruprecht Bion, soon to make a career for himself as a leading psychoanalyst of shell shock during World War 11, allowed Beckett to work through anxieties that sprang from his relationship with his mother, his unwillingness to pursue an academic career, and his "arrogant superiority and isolation" (Ackerley and Gontarski 467). This therapy, perhaps surprisingly, was immensely successful: it turned the "arrogant, disturbed, narcissistic young man of the early 1930s" into the man "noted later for his extraordinary kindness, courtesy, concern, generosity, and almost saintly 'good works' " (Knowlson 173).
Conversely, from 1927 to 1930, the years preceding his therapy, Beckett came to be known as one of the foremost translators of surrealist poetry and prose. Some of his translations included Andre Breton and Louis Aragon's celebration of hysteria as a "supreme means of expression" (quoted in Albright 10) in "La Cinquantenaire de l'hysterie" (1928) and portions of Breton and Paul Eluard's L'lmmaculee conception (1930), a text which attempts to "simulate various mental illnesses, debilities and paralyses" (Albright 10). Beckett's involvement with surrealism, then, is closely linked to the characteristic avant-garde and surrealist impulse to reclaim mental illness, particularly hysteria, and critique the bourgeois medical professional project to cure the mentally ill and suppress their non-rational modes of expression.
These two early moments of Beckett's career--the later treatment of his own nervous health, the earlier access to an aesthetic of critique against those very therapeutic methods--seem at odds, perhaps irreconcilable. But during his psychotherapy, Beckett began to compose his first published full-length work, Murphy (1936), a novel that centres upon its title character's search for a "kindred" which he finds in a "hospital for the better class mentally deranged" (87), whose subject matter mirrors his direct experiences with therapeutic systems and whose criticism of those systems and its aesthetic of absurdity recall the surrealist aesthetic that Beckett encountered in Paris. This paper argues that Murphy places surrealism's aesthetic and formal critique of the psychoanalytic project in tension with the desire in psychoanalysis to understand the structure and content of the psychopathological mind. It is a question of surrealist treatment of form and psychoanalytic interest in structure and content. Hysteria is the diagnostic category effecting this tension, Beckett's simultaneous appropriation of both surrealist and psychoanalytic approaches to what Freud famously entitled "the psychopathology of everyday life." Murphy constitutes a key moment in the representation of male nervous illness in the 1930s and in the afterlife of hysteria. At this time, the legitimacy of male nervous illness was to some extent in question: Freud had relegated hysteria to the feminine, and Bion and the Tavistock Clinic would not reach prominence in their treatment of shell shock until the war. However, the tension in Murphy between the therapeutic and the aesthetic elements of hysteria suggests a continuous discourse of hysteria in a late-modernist moment. And this late-modernist moment is one expressed through a masculine hysterical aesthetic: Beckett deliberately departs from his experience of female nervous illness (his proximity to Lucia Joyce's breakdown) and his awareness of the feminization of hysteria in surrealist conceptions. In Murphy can be found a temporally displaced manifestation, an afterlife of hysteria whose structure, aesthetics, and content are specifically masculine.
Surrealist translations and psychopathological aesthetics
Beckett encountered surrealism over five years before he undertook his course of psychotherapy. His exposure to surrealism, in fact, underpinned the network of influences that he encountered in Paris from 1927 to 1930 and that framed the earliest moments of his artistic production. Thomas McGreevey, a fellow lecteur at the Ecole normale superieure formed a linchpin in the development of Beckett's artistic and intellectual circle, introducing Beckett to numerous contacts within the "proliferation of private presses and little magazines" in Paris (Knowlson 107). Although MacGreevy is most famous for introducing Beckett to James Joyce, MacGreevy also introduced Beckett to Eugene Jolas, "friend of Joyce and editor of the journal, transition, which had begun publishing Joyce's Work in Progress and soon published some of Beckett's early work" (91)--a contact that provided a key mode by which Beckett participated in the same circles as many surrealist artists. Between 1927 and 1937, Eugene Jolas's magazine, transition, "would publish, thanks notably to Eluard's support, more than sixty Surrealist pieces" (1) (Hunkeler 37-38). Jolas not only offered a point of contact between Beckett and the surrealists, he also provided the platform for Beckett to undertake multiple translations of surrealist prose and poetry. Among them were Eluard's "L'amoureuse," "A perte de vue dans le sens de mon corps," "A peine defiguree," and "Second nature" as well as the surrealist favourites Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau ivre," and Guillaume Apollinaire's "Zone" (Beckett, Collected Poems).
Beckett's involvement in another "little magazine" based in Paris, Edward Titus's This Quarter, and in the translated collection of surrealist poetry Thorns of Thunder (1936) established his status as a leading translator of surrealist literature. Titus identified Beckett as a translator of superb quality: "We shall not speak of the difficulties experienced in putting the material placed at our disposal into English, but we cannot refrain from singling out Mr Samuel Beckett's work for special acknowledgement. His rendering of the Eluard and Breton poems in particular is characterizable only in superlatives" (Titus quoted in Hunkeler 41). Breton himself prepared the edition and Beckett translated a large part of the surrealist works that were to appear in the publication: a dozen poems by Eluard; four texts from Breton's Champs magnetiques, Poisson soluble, and Revolver a cheveux blancs; and an excerpt from Rene Crevel's Clavecin de Diderot (Hunkeler 41). The 1932 special surrealist edition of This Quarter proved a landmark publication for surrealism in an English-language context. When Reavy wrote to Anglo-Irish poet Brian Coffey for advice on potential translators for Thorns of Thunder (1936), a compilation and translation of poems by Eluard, Coffey wrote that Reavy should "Ask Beckett whether it would not be well to make the translations into a sequence of Eluard's work from the start [to] Facile. And to give his selection from the whole work, saying what poems he would like to translate" (Coffey quoted in Hunkeler 42). Thus, by the mid-1930s, Beckett's reputation as a translator made him a particular favourite among the surrealists and among the English-language authors and editors who commissioned his work.
Two of Beckett's translated texts in particular--L'Immaculee conception (1930) and "La Cinquantenaire de l'hysterie" (1928)--engage directly with questions of mental illness. It is in these texts that we may look to find a surrealist aesthetic that Beckett carried over into Murphy. L'Immaculee conception, specifically the section "Les Possessions," makes a series of "'attempts'" (Rosemount 49) or "'essays of simulation' of the maladies virtual in each one of us" ("Introduction to the Possessions" 51); in other words, it looks to render mental illness stylistically, to show that the aesthetics of mental illness may constitute a "state of poetic tension" (50) where the "mind [may] harbour the main ideas of delirium without being permanently affected thereby or in any way jeopardized in its faculty of equilibrium" (51). Mental illness for the surrealists is thus a viable means of expression, of style. (2) Beckett translated the introduction to "Les Possessions," along with three of the five sections. "Simulation of Mental Debility" mimics an obsessional approach to self-aggrandizement. "Simulation of General Paralysis" portrays a devotional idealization of a beloved woman. And "Simulation of Delirium of Interpretation" represents a schizoid and hallucinogenic poetics of free association.
Beckett's engagement with these texts "yielded quirky details" in Murphy "like Cooper's acasthisia" (Ackerley and Gontarski 466), or "motor restlessness characterized by muscular quivering and the inability to sit still" ("Akathisia"). (3) Beckett's interest in such illnesses as represented in L'Immaculee conception "centered on narcissism, neuroses, and the psychopathology of daily life rather than on the wilder flights of analytic fancy" (466). Cooper's inability to sit down or take off his hat (Beckett, Murphy 54) is one such everyday manifestation of psychopathology. Murphy offers another example of everyday psychopathology in his obsessive engagement in counting exercises:
He took the biscuits carefully out of the packet and laid them face upward on the grass, in order as he felt of edibility. They were the same as always, a Ginger, an Osborne, a Digestive, a Petit Beurre and one anonymous. He always ate the first-named last, because he liked it the best, and the anonymous first, because he thought it very likely the least palatable ... But if he were to take the final step and overcome his infatuation with the ginger, then the assortment would spring to life before him, dancing the radiant measure of its total permutability, edible in a hundred and twenty ways! Overcome by these perspectives Murphy fell forward on his face on the grass. (96-97)
In addition to this obsession with the potential for patterns, even in something as mundane as biscuits, Murphy is replete with such "quirky details": Wylie's nymphomania; Mr Kelly's obsessive questioning of Celia (he wants to "know the who, what, where, by what means, why, in what way and when. Scratch an old man and find a Quintilian" 17); Miss Dew's "duck's disease" (97). (4) Together with Cooper's and Murphy's mild neuroses, and in light of Beckett's translations of the simulations, Murphy's biscuit obsession and his overwhelming realization of the "radiant measure of its total permutability" creates an overall tenor of a psychopathological surrealist aesthetic of absurdity.
In Murphy, Neary's obsessive approach to his romantic affairs, another everyday manifestation of psychosis, echoes the fervent devotion of "Simulation of General Paralysis" Neary's love for Miss Counihan, a woman in love with Murphy, becomes a major plot device as it propels Neary's, Wylie's, and Cooper's search for Murphy. In "General Paralysis" the presumably male protagonist weaves paragraph-long sentences addressed to his "great one whom [he adores] beautiful as the whole earth ... [his] great woman" (52):
My heart bleeds on thy mouth and closes on thy mouth on all the red chestnut-trees of the avenue of thy mouth where we are on our way through the shining dust to lie us down amidst the meteors of thy beauty that I adore my great one who art so beautiful that I am happy to adorn my treasures with thy presence with thy name that multiplies the facets of the ecstasy of my treasures with thy name. (53-54)
In a striking echo, Neary's heart "not only panted after Miss Counihan, but bled for her into the bargain" (49). The frustration of his feelings for her manifests in his flamboyant, public displays of angst: Neary "[flings] aside his hat, [springs] forward, [seizes] the dying hero (5) by the thighs and [begins] to dash his head against his buttocks" (42). Upon being recognized and torn away by Wylie, a "former pupil," he sobs, "[raises] a face purged of all passion, [seizes] Wylie by the shoulders, [and holds] him out at arm's length" (45). Neary's ostentatious performance of romantic suffering surfaces again in his solitude and then in the presence of Miss Counihan: "Night had scarcely fallen and yet already Neary, with his pyjamas torn from his body and flung to the floor, was tossing under a sheet ... when Miss Counihan was announced ... now with sleep out of the question, and Miss Counihan's hot buttered buttocks so close, he uncrossed his feet and kicked the bag out of the bed" (207-08). This repetition of romantic ecstasy again echoes the stylistics of "General Paralysis"; as the surrealist text circles and reiterates itself, so do Neary's displays of ecstatic romantic suffering. Romantic psychopathology, or the representation of heteronormative relationships, becomes a primary realm of everyday psychosis in Murphy: Neary's love for Miss Counihan drives the plot of the novel and renders a quotidian obsession, passion for a sexual and romantic partner requited or unrequited, in a similar aesthetic to the surrealist representation of romantic ecstasy. Sexual and romantic desire becomes a pathological structure.
Gendering and re-gendering hysteria
Beckett's portrayal of the highly gendered structure of psychopathologized heteronormative love raises the spectre of surrealism's own relationship to the representation of gender and heteronormative desire. The surrealists' participation in the spectacle of mental illness or "ecstasy" (Didi-Huberman) is at its most celebratory in their text "La Cinquantenaire de l'hysterie," which Beckett translated the same year it was published. "La Cinquantenaire" praises hysteria as the "greatest poetic discovery of the latter nineteenth century" (Breton and Aragon 320). The surrealists identify their current moment, 1928, as one in which hysteria has "shed its symptoms" (321) and has lost the status it held under Jean-Martin Charcot's prominence at the Salpetriere. Breton and Aragon thus offer a "fresh definition" of hysteria at this time:
Hysteria is a more or less irreducible mental condition, marked by the subversion, quite apart from any delirium-system, of the relations established between the subject and the moral world under whose authority he believes himself, practically, to be ... Hysteria is not a pathological phenomenon and may in all respects be considered as a supreme means of expression. (emphasis added 321)
Hysteria as a "supreme means of expression" is certainly consistent with the project in L'Immaculee conception to reach a poetics of psychosis. Of particular note, however, is the use of neutral pronouns "he" and "himself" to define how the hysteric exists within the "moral world," which is troubled by accompanying reproductions of six photographic images of Augustine, the "star model for a whole concept of hysteria" (Didi-Huber man 117), from the Iconographie de la Salpetriere. These photographs portray her "Attitudes Passionnelles"--fits of paralytic sexual ecstasy, a sexual spectacle, a "theatrical drama" (169). "La Cinquantenaire" participates in a spectacular fetishization of the female hysterical body: when the surrealists "saw fit to commemorate the '50th anniversary of Hysteria' in 1928 with reproductions of these photographed ecstasies of Augustine" they perpetuated the eroticization of the hysterical body and "continued to get an eyeful of Augustine's painful gesticulations, the poor starlet" (148). The exclusively female subjects of the Iconographie effect a representation of hysteria as a feminine performance. Augustine's fits are at once "ecstasies" and "attitudes passionelles"--highly sexualized, ecstatic representations of romantic desire. The Iconographie, and especially the images of Augustine, constitutes a web of femininity, performance, and sexualization of the hysterical female body.
The surrealist's "annexation" of Augustine's "hysteria to a 'means of expression,' to 'art' " (148) mirrors their attempt to portray romantic ecstasy in "Simulation of General Paralysis." In both cases, the sexualization of the represented subject exists within the structure of heteronomative desire: the male speaker's devotion to his "great woman" and Augustine's gestures toward an imagined male lover. The surrealist's uncritical use of the masculine or neutral pronoun in their description of the "supreme ... expression" of the hysteric illustrates an additional ambivalence toward the gendered aspects of hysteria. But the surrealists--whose "La Cinquantenaire" is published after Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer's Studies on Hysteria (1895) and Freud's Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)--write in a moment in which hysteria is much more prominent in the popular and medical imagination as a feminine, rather than masculine, spectacle of nervous illness.
The development of Freudian psychoanalysis through Freud's early engagement with male hysteria under Charcot to the eventual publication of Dora resulted in the solidification of hysteria as a feminine malady. In Freud's early career his tutelage under Charcot during the "twilight of the golden age of male hysteria in nineteenth-century France" (Micale 228) elicited Freud's translation into German and publication of no less than thirty-three cases of male hysteria and the delivery of his inaugural paper before the Vienna Society of Physicians entitled "On Male Hysteria" (Micale 239). Male hysteria was "front and center in Charcot's work during precisely the months Freud was in Paris" (Micale 235), and Charcot's influence on the young Freud was profound. However, as Freud began to differentiate himself from Charcot in the 1890s, he departed increasingly from "Salpetriere orthodoxy" and began to focus on a "psycho-sexual" dimension of hysteria (Micale 243). Although Freud's joint publications with Breuer in Studies on Hysteria were, theoretically, "equally applicable to males and females, Freud and Breuer chose to illustrate it clinically with individuals from only one sex" (Micale 252). After Freud published Dora, he "for all intents and purposes dropped hysteria as a subject of study" in favour of studies of "non-hysterical psychopathologies whose analysis did not require him to confront the radical gender implications of his work on male hysteria, including a deconstructive analysis of masculinity itself" (Micale 272). As such, although the surrealists use the neutral pronoun to describe the hysteric under moralistic society, and although their insistence that Freud "owes so much to Charcot" may signify a conception of hysteria that does not centre upon the feminine, they also write in a contemporary moment of hysteria's re-gendering as inherently feminine ("La Cinquantenaire de l'Hysterie" 320). They pull from the sexualized femininity of the Iconographie. In the surrealist imagination, the theatricality of hysteria is highly sexualized: the female body is the object of the spectacle.
A parallel text to the Iconographie, "La Cinquantenaire," in addition to L'Immaculee conception provide the scaffolding for Daniel Albright's argument for surrealism's early influence on Beckett; he cites Beckett's translation work on the two texts and demonstrates the stylistic similarities between them and Murphy, but in doing so he elides a fundamental gendered aspect of Beckett's hysterical aesthetics. For Albright, Murphy "most advantageously replaces the novel as we know it with an exercise in the simulation of psychosis, and a number of passages catch exact echoes of the rhetoric of Beckett's Breton translations" (10). For example, in Murphy's "first reactions to his new job as an attendant in an insane asylum" (10), the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat:
The function of treatment was to bridge the gulf, translate the sufferer from his own pernicious little private dungheap to the glorious world of discrete particles, where it would be his inestimable prerogative once again to wonder, love, hate, desire, rejoice and howl, in a reasonable balanced manner, and comfort himself with the society of others in the same predicament.
All this was duly revolting to Murphy, whose experience as a psychical and rational being obliged him to call sanctuary what the psychiatrists called exile. (Beckett 168 quoted in Albright 11)
Albright juxtaposes this passage to "Introduction" in "Les possessions" from L'Immaculee conception, in which the surrealists desire to "'lend [their voice] successively to the speech of the most disparate beings, to the speech of the richest and the poorest, the blind and the hallucinatory, the coward and the aggressor'" (Breton 51 quoted in Albright 10). In their respective texts, Beckett as well as Breton and Eluard seek to elevate the neurotic or psychotic to the level of victim within the psychiatric therapeutic structure. Instead of psychotic individuals existing as patients, as those in "exile," they exist in alternate mental states that may find "sanctuary" in a community of psychotics. Albright goes on to briefly describe the differences between "a psychotic prose style," which the surrealists would advocate in L'Immaculee conception, and a "hysterical prose style":
whereas Breton and Eluard ... take ass's milk sand baths and ride on the backs of jellyfish and engage in other sorts of wildly disordered activities, Beckett imitates an ir- or supra-rational manner of thought by indulging in counting games, arranging biscuits or pushing buttons in all the various orders that come to mind. Hysterics play with the whole dictionary, it seems, while psychotics play with a limited number of elements. (11)
Albright suggests here that the aesthetic of Beckett's psychotics is a fundamentally hysterical style, that Beckett's characters' obsessions with "counting games," with the possible permutations of the processes themselves of thought, align them more with the hysteria of "La Cinquantenaire," the ultimate chameleon of diseases, than with limited and discrete neuroses.
In directly aligning the aesthetic of "La Cinquantenaire" with Murphy, however, Albright suppresses the gendered element of the spectacle of hysteria, as Murphy renders an exclusively male nervous illness a spectacle. Murphy meets a variety of patients at the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat,
But those that he did see were not at all the terrifying monsters from Ticklepenny's account. Melancholics, motionless and brooding, holding their heads or bellies according to type. Paranoids, feverishly covering sheets of paper with complaints against their treatment or verbatim reports of their inner voices. A hebephrenic playing the piano intently. A hypomanic teaching slosh to a Korsakow's syndrome. An emaciated schizoid, petrified in a toppling attitude as though condemned to an eternal tableau vivant, his left hand rhetorically extended holding a cigarette half smoked and out, his right, quivering and rigid, pointing upward. (167-68)
At first, this list seems to communicate a "psychotic prose style": these illnesses are each ostensibly non-gendered, discrete diagnoses that should align with specific symptoms, with the "wildly disordered activities" and "limited number of elements" of the psychotic. However, two elements of Murphy's relationship to the patients connect them with hysteria's deeper structure of limitless possibilities within irrationality.
First, Murphy, the cookie-counter and lover of infinite possibility, experiences striking "success" with all of the patients, to the extent that one "refused to exercise unless accompanied by Murphy. Another, a melancholic ... would not get out of his bed unless on Murphy's invitation. Another melancholic, convinced that his intestines had turned to twine and blotting-paper, would only eat when Murphy held the spoon" (182). Within the space of "sanctuary," the patients develop such a strong affinity with a male nurse who tends toward the "ir- or supra-rational manner of thought" of hysteria; they gravitate toward the meta-psychosis of male hysteria. Murphy interprets his success as a signpost meaning that the psychotics "felt in him what they had been and he in them what he would be" (183-84), that he had found a "brotherhood" (176).
Second, Murphy's awe of Mr Endon, "a schizophrenic of the most amiable variety," aligns both Murphy and the psychotic with this impulse toward counting (186). One of the climactic scenes of the novel, Mr Endon and Murphy's chess game, is a study in the irrational combinations of possibilities on the stage of the chessboard. Knowlson describes the chess game as an "exercise in noncommunication" (199). In the game, Mr Endon "fails to acknowledge Murphy's existence and finishes with his own pieces ranged symmetrically very much as he began. Murphy resigns unnecessarily after the forty-third move" (199). This game is not an attempt to play within a certain number of rules, not an attempt to win on the basis of the conventionally determined interactions of the two players. Instead, its non-rational, non-strategic moves and Murphy's arbitrary resignation speak to the manner in which the "schizophrenic" has reached the level of irrationality, of play with the entire dictionary of psychopathology. Murphy goes into shock over Mr Endon's chess non-strategy, a shock that produces a "positive peace that comes when the somethings give way, or perhaps simply add up, to the Nothing" (246). Mr Endon uses the freedom afforded him by Murphy's state of shock to wander through the halls of the Mercyseat, all the while intensifying his non-strategic patterns of behaviour:
pressing here a light-switch and there an indicator, in a way that seemed haphazard but was in fact determined by an amental pattern as precise as any of those that governed his chess. Murphy found him in the south transept, gracefully stationed before the hypomanic's pad, ringing the changes on the various ways in which the indicator could be pressed and the light turned on and off. (247)
This "amental pattern" recalls the counting game of Murphy's biscuits: "with the light turned off to begin with [Mr Endon] had: lit, indicated, extinguished; indicated, lit, extinguished, indicated; indicated, extinguished, and was seriously thinking of lighting when Murphy stayed his hand" (247). In addition to Mr Endon's experimentation with the light switches, then, his chess game and Murphy's biscuit obsession mark "an ir- or supra-rational manner of thought" that defines the hysterical style shared by two characters, one ostensibly sane, the other a diagnosed schizophrenic. Murphy's affinity with the patients and his awe of Mr Endon's stylistic manifestation of hysteria trouble Albright's uncritical alignment of a feminine-gendered, surrealist hysteria and the representation of masculine neurosis in Murphy. For Albright's comparison to hold, Beckett must rework the conception of female hysteria that he has engaged within a surrealist aesthetic to apply to male nervous illness, to open its limitation to the feminine gender up to the masculine in a post-Freudian moment.
Murphy does, in fact, rework this gendered dynamic; Murphy's meditative trances map the feminine theatricality of hysteria on to Beckett's masculine aesthetics. In the retreats to the "small world" that eventually frame Murphy's "slap-up psychosis" (115), Beckett explicitly associates him with hysteria and does so in such a way that his trances mimic the ecstatic and theatrical paralysis of the hysterical fit. The novel opens on the first of these series of fits, in which Murphy sits in his rocking chair held in position by scarves, with a stillness in which "the breath [is] not perceptible" and "only the most local movements [are] possible" (2). This position allows Murphy to reach an alternate mental state as it "[appeases] his body" in order to "set him free in his mind" (2). This fit becomes a spectacle in its second manifestation, as when Murphy awakes from the little world he finds Ticklepenny watching him. Ticklepenny observes that Murphy's trance emulated that of one of the patients:
"[N]o offence meant, you had a great look of Clarke there a minute ago."
Clarke had been for three weeks in a katatonic stupor.
"All but the cackle," said Ticklepenny.
Clarke would repeat for hours the phrase: "Mr Endon is very superior"
The gratified look that Murphy disdained to hide so alarmed Ticklepenny that he abandoned his purpose and rose to go. (193)
This emulation of the catatonic stupor evokes an older, pre-Charcotian theorization of hysteria in men: that hysteria and catatonia are equivalent diseases in women and men. In fact, many classifications refer to both catatonia and hysteria in hyphenated nosological categories (Micale). Murphy's "gratified look" then, betrays not only his affinity with the psychotics of the Mercyseat, but his desire for a particular manifestation of their psychosis: that of male hysteria. Clarke's repetition of "Mr Endon is very superior," once again connects this psychotic figure par excellence of Murphy to hysteria: if the effect of his psychopathological superiority is to induce an hysterical-catatonic trance in Clarke, his own impulse toward irrational counting games further connects Murphy to the hysterical. In fact, the third and final manifestation, the "slap-up psychosis" of Murphy's "life's strike" (115), the scene of his death, is directly precipitated by his and Mr Endon's chess game (184). The irrationality of the chess game propels Murphy to return to his garret, to strip out of his clothes, to rock so that "soon his body would be quiet, soon he would be free" as he enters his state of trance (9, 252-53). Concurrently to this final manifestation of Murphy's trance, his theatrical hysterical fit, the "gas [goes] on in the w.c" and "soon his body was quiet" as he dies--either in the fire caused by the faulty gas radiator, or, perhaps, in his hysterical "slap-up psychosis" (115). In this aesthetic, Beckett weaves together the influence of surrealism, the everyday psychopathology of the so-called sane characters, and the irrationality of obsessive counting games in such a way that allows for a spectacle of male hysteria.
What may be particularly male about this instantiation of hysteria, however, is that spectacle is not a requirement for the existence of the psychic state. The spectacle of male hysteria is one that may be viewed, that may act as spectacle, but one whose optics do not require that hysterical theatricality exist solely for the benefit of the medical spectator. Ticklepenny may observe Murphy and Clarke, but Murphy's retreats to the small world may exist without this spectacular economy. Likewise, Murphy may desire the state of catatonia, but desire in male nervous illness does not transfer to the male body; it does not register in the structures of hetero-normative desire as Augustine's iconography does; its spectacle consists of paralysis rather than expressions of sexuality, and the "slap-up psychosis" (115) of the hysterical meta-psychosis exists primarily in the internal freedom of the male mind.
Beckett: patient and artist
Despite the surrealist spectacle of the absurd that frames much of Beckett's criticism of the psychiatric professions, of the "text-book attitude" toward psychosis, Beckett's fascination with psychosis runs biographically deeper than his artistic and aesthetic engagement with surrealism, manifesting both in his experience as a patient and in his deep intellectual engagement with the written materials and intellectual communities that provided the fabric of contemporaneous psychology. Beckett's own symptoms, "a bursting, apparently arrhythmic heart, night sweats, shudders, panic, breathlessness, and ... total paralysis," bear a striking resemblance to the classical symptoms of feminine hysteria (Knowlson 169). Over the course of his two years in London, the composition of Murphy and Beckett's psychotherapy became all-engrossing: his letters indicate that at first his psychotherapy was the "only thing that interest[ed]" him "to the exclusion of virtually anything else," meaning he "had not the ... desire to do anything whatever in the way of literature" (Feshenfeld 27 January 1924 ). As his therapy progressed, however, Beckett began "forcing [himself] to keep at the book" (Feshenfeld 22 September 1935), and soon "threw himself obsessionally into [it], at the expense of almost everything else" (Knowlson 194). Beckett's simultaneous composition of Murphy and course of psychotherapy, both intense and obsessional moments in his life, allows psychoanalysis itself, not only its stylistic rendering in surrealism, to frame his fascination with "the psychopathology of daily life."
A major distinction between the surrealist and the psychoanalytic approaches to the human mind is the psychoanalytic impulse to understand content as well as form. While surrealism seeks to use the workings of the human mind to establish a "revolutionary" means of expression, psychoanalysis seeks to explain, to theorize, to come to the truth of human psychological functioning. The defining characteristic of psychoanalysis is "a dynamic process fostering intense scrutiny of the contents of consciousness, regardless of whatever depths, spurious or otherwise, it might have been dredged from" (emphasis added, Ackerley and Gontarski 466). During his time at the Tavistock Clinic, Beckett came across multiple possible conceptualizations of the human mind, among them psychoanalytic framings of content and understandings of the form of the mind. The "methods of therapy practiced at the Tavistock Clinic ... were highly eclectic. Ideas were borrowed from both Freud and Jung, but Adlerian hypotheses were used as well.... [T]he group of therapists there was 'rather empirical and non-doctrinaire' and an 'eclectic and enquiring spirit' was encouraged" (Knowlson 170). This eclectic spirit may, in turn, have encouraged Beckett's study of wide-ranging psychoanalytic texts during his therapy, evident in his substantial "Psychology Notes." Beckett's reading encompassed writings on "behaviorism, gestalt psychology, Freud, Jung, Adler, and William McDougall," the Kulpe school, Ernest Jones's Freudian Papers on Psychoanalysis, (6) and "books by ... Otto Rank ... and Wilhelm Stekel as well as a commentary of Freud (whom he called Freudchen) entitled 'Treatment of the Neuroses'" (Knowlson 171-72). Despite, or perhaps because of, this apparent eclecticism, Beckett's engagement with psychoanalysis is particularly of his moment. Taken in 1934 and 1935, his notes concentrate on some of the most current accounts of the shape of the psychoanalytic field. He studiously read R. S. Woodworth's Contemporary Schools of Psychology (1933), Karin Stephen's Psychoanalysis and Medicine: A Study of the Wish to Fall Ill (1931), and Alfred Adler's The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology (translated 1932). The "intensity of [Beckett's] personal involvement" (171) with the texts of psychoanalysis and his eclectic study of multiple psychoanalytic frameworks have a specifically contemporaneous character.
Beckett participated not only in the intellectual, written aspects of psychoanalysis but also in the immediate intellectual community that produced these ideas. Beckett visited a childhood friend studying to become a psychoanalyst, Geoffrey Thompson, whom Beckett credits with initially "recommend[ing] psychoanalysis" (Beckett quoted in Feldman 88) and who may in fact have specifically recommended Bion as "the two trained together at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in the 1930s" (Feldman 88). During Beckett's visits to the Bethlem Royal Hospital, he saw "everything, from mild depression to profound dementia" (Beckett quoted in Knowlson 197), including a "schizophrenic who was 'like a hunk of meat. There was no one there. He was absent,' " a striking parallel to the "emaciated schizoid" in Murphy (168). Beckett seems to have picked up his detailed knowledge of hospital protocol from these visits as he wrote down "a detailed account of the duties of a male nurse" and gleaned what "actually happened [at the hospital], as distinct from what was supposed to happen" (198). These details surface in the disparity between Mr Endon "ringing the changes on the various ways in which the indicator could be pressed and the light turned on and off" in the hypomanic's room and the official record at the Mercyseat: "Bom's switchboard the following morning informed him that the hypomanic had been visited at regular intervals of ten minutes from 8 p.m. till shortly after 4 a.m., then for nearly an hour not at all, then six times in the space of one minute, then no more" (Murphy 247). For Bom, this "unprecedented distribution of visits" constitutes such an incomprehensible departure from what "was supposed to happen" that it "continued to baffle his ingenuity up to and including the day of his death" (Murphy 247). In addition, the information that Beckett gleaned from Thompson accounts for such details in Murphy as "the judas hole through which the patients are checked; the 'tab,' information that is given to a nurse so that he or she can ensure that a patient does not commit suicide; the power of the night nurse; and the various euphemisms for the padded cell" (Knowlson 198). While in London, Beckett's keen interest in both the administrative and the theoretical manifestations of the psychoanalytic profession, alongside his own psychotherapy, offered him the opportunity to engage with issues similar to those he encountered in French surrealism but to do so by means of an intellectual engagement with the ideas of the profession.
Beckett's personal and social engagement with psychoanalysis often overlapped with his intellectual one. For instance, while composing Murphy, Beckett accompanied Bion to one of C. G. Jung's lectures at the Tavistock Institute (Kowlson 197, Feshenfeld 8 October 1935), where "Jung presented a diagram showing the different spheres of the mind and the dark center of the unconscious. [Beckett] took notes and added others from Freud, defining the id, ego, and superego, with a sketch of the 'perpetual conscious,' the 'pre-conscious,' and the 'unconscious'" (Ackerley and Gontarski 389). Beckett's letters indicate that he was quite taken by Jung: "He struck me as a kind of super ae [Irish writer George Russell], the mind infinitely more ample, provocative & penetrating, but the same cuttle-fish's discharge & escapes from the issue in the end. He let fall some remarkable things nevertheless" (8 October 1935). By the time Beckett attended Jung's lecture, he already had a conception of the varied psychoanalytic approaches to theorizing the human mind: "His lecture the night I went consisted mainly in the so called synthetic (versus Freudian analytic) interpretation of three dreams of a patient who finally went to the dogs because he insisted on taking a certain element in the dreams as the Oedipus position when Jung told him it was nothing of the kind!" (8 October 1935). Distinguishing between Freudian analytic interpretation and Jungian synthetic interpretation, Beckett acknowledges the multiplicity of possible interpretations or misinterpretations of symptoms when divergent conceptual frameworks are deployed, even with respect to such seemingly fundamental concepts as the "Oedipus position." What Beckett more optimistically engages with, at core, is the psychoanalytic impulse to explain and theorize the mechanics of human psychology and that the content of those mechanics--whether or not "certain elements" of a dream are Oedipal--are of utmost importance to the structural understanding of the psyche. While surrealism seeks to identify an irrational poetics in order to derail traditional forms, psychoanalysis seeks to conceptualize the relationships between the signs and symbols of illness and their underlying causes--it seeks to offer an interpretation based on content.
Murphy evinces this impulse to theorize and to scrutinize the "contents of the consciousness" (Ackerley and Gontarski 466); he propounds a vision of Murphy's mind that, while a description of psychic structure, depends upon the content of the mind. Chapter 6, which attempts to justify "the expression 'Murphy's mind,'" gives a detailed account not of "this apparatus as it really was--that would be an extravagance and an impertinence--but solely ... what it felt itself to be" (Murphy 107). What relationship may exist between Murphy's mind and Murphy's body manifests solely in his desire to "still" the body so that the "mind might move," and such moments of stillness become trances wherein he may "[feel] himself come alive in mind, set free to move among his treasures" (111). "Murphy's mind pictured itself as a large hollow sphere, hermetically closed to the universe without" (107), which contains three zones: light, half light, and dark. The light zone consists of "forms with parallel" (111). Murphy's trances manifest a desire to exist in the dark zone: "Thus as his body set him free more and more in his mind, he took to spending more and more and more in the dark, in the will-lessness, a mote in its absolute freedom" (113). In this theorization of Murphy's mind, "as it felt itself to be," it is not solely the division into zones that are of interest to him. Instead, the fact that these zones contain the "world of the body broken up" (112), "forms without parallel" (111), and the "ceaseless unconditioned generation and passing away of life" (112) takes pride of place; the various levels of freedom that Murphy accesses in the light, half-light, and dark zones of his mind are contingent upon the content of each of these zones. The form, and indeed the function, of Murphy's mind is unintelligible without the content.
Beckett's engagement with psychoanalysis was ultimately one of critical intellectual engagement. Although Ackerley and Gontarski assert that Beckett "used psychoanalytic process to evoke experiences akin to schizophrenia [and other mental illnesses] while remaining similarly uncommitted regarding psychoanalytic theory" (468), "Psychology Notes" suggests that Beckett's intellectual engagement with psychology may have engendered a particular commitment to hysteria, or, at the very least, an intense awareness of the fundamental nature of hysteria to the development of psychoanalysis. Of all diseases explored in the notebooks, hysteria receives the most attention. In his notes on Woodworth's Contemporary Schools of Psychology, Beckett takes detailed notes on the training that Freud would have received in the field of hysteria. He begins a section dedicated to "Psychoanalysis & Related Schools"
Freud scholar of Charcot 1885, impressed by Charcot's treatment of hysteria by hypnosis & by his assertion that neurosis was always due to sexual disorder. Also studied with Nancy school (Liebault & Bernheim). Dissatisfied with hypnosis method Freud founded with Joseph Breuer the "talkingout" method ("mental catharsis" "abreaction") for hysteria. (TS10971_7, 7)
"Psychology Notes" describes a series of sub-diagnoses surrounding hysteria: Beckett lists "Three simple or 'actual' neuroses: neurasthenia, anxiety neurosis & hypochondria" and a series of "psychoneuroses: conversionhysteria, anxiety-hysteria, fixational-hysteria & the obsessional neurosis" (tsi0971_8, 21). After a series of musings on the nature of hysteria--"An important characteristic of [the] hysterical disorder is the excessive development of fantasy at the expense of adjustment to reality"; "Hysterical symptoms are euphemisms like chest for gastric region"; "The more intense the repression the more remote the association between complex repressed & its conscious manifestation" (TS10971_8, 21-22).
As Beckett's notes go on to define each of these sub-categories of hysteria, they mix descriptions of symptoms with descriptions of the overall structures of the diseases; in doing so, they collapse the boundaries between the ostensibly neurotic and ostensibly hysteric diseases. Beckett lists the symptoms of anxiety neurosis ("Air-hunger, larval attacks, palpitation, vertigo, sudden hunger, sweating, imperative desire to micturate & defaecate, feelings of suffocation. Hyperaesthesia for auditory sensations, parious paraesthesias" and paroxysms) in addition to those of anxiety hysteria ("May lead of psychic impotence & sexual anaesthesia" TS10971_8, 21). But by contrast, he describes the structures of conversion hysteria ("an afferent impulse which is inhibited from finding its normal expression, corresponding to an emotional manifestation, flows along other neural paths, producing motor effects appropriate to the latter") and draws a careful distinction between conversion hysteria and anxiety hysteria ("Distinction between physical symptoms of anxiety-hysteria, which are merely physiological accompaniments of a given emotion, & those of conversion-hysteria, which are the direct consequence & symbol of the morbid mental process" TS10971_8, 21). Hypochondria and fixation-hysteria are contained within a single heading in the notes, as though the two diagnoses exist necessarily in tandem with one another: "the hypocondriac [sic] is above all sensitive about internal organs, chiefly intestinal canal" and for this patient "the threshold to be passed by sensations emanating from internal organs is abnormally low, so that the subject is unduly sensitive to any changes in them & concentrates his attention on the interior of his body, with consequent proneness to valetudinarianism" (TS10971_8, 21-22). By small contrast, the fixated hysteric concentrates his or her energies on "more external parts of the body, including upper respiratory passages" and his or her "sensations" are left undescribed--implying that they are identical with those of the hypochondriac (TS10971_8, 21-22).
Despite the meticulous descriptions of the various categories of neurosis and hysterical psychosis in "Psychology Notes," these descriptions in fact create little distinction among the various disorders, resulting in a slippage, a collapse into hysteria that emerges in the comparison of "Psychology Notes" and Murphy. The symptoms of anxiety neurosis, palpitation, hyperaesthesia, and paroxysms, match those of classical hysteria as much as the sexual anaesthesia of anxiety hysteria. The alternate neural paths of conversion hysteria mirror Beckett's quip that "Hysterical symptoms are euphemisms" and align the development of hysteria with the overall structure of Freudian psychoanalytic illness: that all neurosis and psychosis is a process of misdirection of psychic energies. The crumbling distinctions between hysteria, neurosis, and the wider psychoanalytic understanding of the structure of mental illness echoes the hysterical "play with the whole dictionary" in the language of alternate psychic processes (Albright 11). "Psychology Notes" lists one undescribed hysterical psychoneurotic diagnosis: obsessional neurosis. However, Murphys everyday psychopathology, Murphy's obsessive counting of biscuits, and Mr Endon's play with light switches constitute the hysterical prose style, constitute cases of obsessional behaviour. The collapse of various diagnostic categories into hysteria in "Psychology Notes" establishes that the "ir- or supra-rational manner of thought" (11) that Beckett creates, in fact, renders the totality of nervous illness within Murphy prone to slippage into the category of hysteria. Much of the absurdist renderings of psychosis--Neary's echoes of "Simulation of General Paralysis," Cooper's acathisia--and the multiple diagnoses represented at the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat, melancholics, paranoids, hebephrenics, hypomanics, schizophrenics, Korsakow's syndrome, and catatonics--threaten to slip into this hysterical supercategory in much the same way that the neurasthenic and the obsessional collapse into the hysterical in "Psychology Notes."
Beckett's statement, "An important characteristic of hysterical disorder is the excessive development of fantasy at the expense of adjustment to reality" (TS10971_8, 21), finds its parallel in Murphy's understanding of his mind: Murphy's impulse is to theorize his mind in such a way that he is "sovereign and free," so that the questions of the body and the outside world may have no bearing in the process of becoming "a mote in the dark of absolute freedom" (112). Murphy's compulsion to engage in what "Psychology Notes" identifies as a central characteristic of hysteria further connects him to the multiple patients at the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat and in turn to the everyday psychopathologies of Neary and Cooper. Murphy and his psychopathological peers have, after all, developed fantasies and fixations that prevent adjustment to "reality," a reality that is of little interest to Murphy; the text preserves this disinterest, as it "would be an extravagance and an impertinence" to even describe the apparatus of Murphy's mind as it "really [is]" (107).
It is in this creation of fantasy content among the brotherhood of the hysterical supercategory and Murphy's understanding of the psychic structure to contain that fantasy that mark this version of hysteria as particularly male. Murphy's conception of his own mind aligns with the potential, but not constitutive, optics of the male hysterical trance: if there is a freedom of expression in Murphy's mind, it is a freedom garnered by an outward catatonia; as Murphy descends deeper into the "freedom" of his mind, the expression of that freedom can only be motionless, can only be catatonic as he "did not move" as a "mote in ... absolute freedom" (113). As Murphy adds its own version of the theorization of the mind to the psychoanalytic throng, a searching after structure and content that Beckett records in "Psychology Notebooks," the aesthetics of that theorization rest upon a catatonic hysteria that does not rest upon the iconographic fetishization endemic to Augustine's hysteria. Instead, Murphys figuration of hysteria seems to undo some of the Freudian relegation of hysteria to the feminine, the Charcotian prominence of a feminine hysterical iconography, and the surrealist simultaneous elision of gender in expression and insistence upon gender in iconography. Murphy exposes this gendered methodology of hysteria by presenting hysteria as a means of expression that turns inward to the structure and content of the mind.
"Psychology Notes" demonstrates Beckett's engagement with the structure and content of the hysterical human mind, as understood from a distinctly psychoanalytic perspective. While the aesthetic of the absurd in Murphy retains the surrealist impulse to critique the psychoanalytic profession and to celebrate mental illness as a "supreme means of expression" (Breton and Aragon 321), Beckett's strong analytical grounding in the theories of psychoanalysis retains the profession's simultaneous attention to structure and content, an aspect of psychoanalytic theory that surrealism lacks. It is through this psychoanalytic structure that Beckett continues a discourse of hysteria as a diagnostic and critical category: at a moment in the history of psychology in which hysteria can no longer be employed as a diagnostic category for men, and in which the critical and aesthetic potential of hysteria as a "supreme means of expression" likewise seems restricted to a means of fetishizing the feminine body, "Psychology Notes" demonstrates the collapse of psychoanalytic diagnostic categories into hysteria, and Murphy demonstrates that collapse in a male-gendered environment that retains the critical power of humour and the analytical power of psychoanalysis.
Temporal displacements and continuing manifestations
While Freud may have not have wished to "confront the radical gender implications of his work," Beckett's combined stylistic and analytical rendering of male hysteria must confront those implications (Micale 272). In the spectacle of male hysteria, Beckett combines a male hysterical aesthetic with an analytical understanding of structure and content. He applies surrealist strategies of reclamation and celebration, mobilizing a critique of the medicalization of the mind in an aesthetic realm that developed in response to female hysteria. To do so he creates an understanding of the hysterical mind in which counting games, the full range of everyday psychopathologies, and Murphy's fits in the "ir- or supra-rational manner of thought" constitute male hysteria's symptom pool. He allows the "radical gender implications" of diagnostic collapse into hysteria to take its place in this aesthetic and psychoanalytic moment. Beckett's personal experience with the paradigm of psychoanalytic therapy, his own symptoms' striking similarity to female hysteria, his keen interest in psychopathology, and the stylistics of hysterical performance lead him to a rendering of mental illness that at once embraces the aesthetic of mental illness as a means of expression, as in surrealism, and attempts to engage intellectually with the content, the functioning of the male hysterical mind. Murphy provides us with a fiction of hysteria, one that entails men on the margins and exposes the gendered workings of a continuously resonant classical hysteria in his late-modernist moment.
But manifestations of hysteria, whether in Beckett's late-modernist or our contemporary moment, must contend with their inherent temporal displacement. Murphy appears late in the timeline of hysteria: the disease has outlived its medical golden age and has passed through its second youth in avant-gardiste aestheticization, an aestheticization intensely aware of the fifty-year displacement in its celebration of hysteria's "cinquantenaire." Beckett, then, contributes yet another layer of displacement, imagining the aesthetics of hysteria long after their initial medical and aesthetic moments and, in so doing, offering a version of the disease that responds to the late-modernist lacuna of cultural representations of male mental illness.
Beckett's imagining of a male hysterical aesthetics, combined with hysteria's inherent displaced temporality, invites us to imagine how our contemporary cultural approach to mental illness might have looked if a masculine aesthetic of hysteria held the same cultural sway as feminized hysteria. In other words, how might a critique of the medicalization of the mind operate if the subjects of that medicalization were male? How might the trajectory of cultural understandings of mental illness, hysteria included, have developed differently if the locus of medicalization and of reclamation was male? Beckett offers a tidy, single-gendered alignment of gender and reclamation: this version of hysteria is a mental illness whose nosological categorization was developed by men (Charcot and Freud), rendered aesthetically by Beckett as a male disease (in Murphy, in the catatonic, and in Mr Endon), reclaimed by means of the aesthetic strategies developed by and employed by male artists (surrealism and Beckett), and circumvents the spectacle of hysteria as a constitutive methodology of the disease as it applies to female subjects (Beckett). Perhaps, if the aestheticization and the reclamation of hysteria were mobilized on male bodies, these reclamation strategies might successfully facilitate a cultural understanding of alternate psychic states as potentially desirable; they might succeed in creating the psychotic kindred that Murphy finds.
But our contemporary understanding of hysteria is persistently that of a feminine disease. Even our contemporary reclamations must work within and against a double marginalization: the female gendering of hysteria renders the hysteric an other in both gender and in psychic normativity. Murphy is on the margins, certainly. His psychic identification is non-normative, and he perceives a fully realized non-normative psychic identification amongst the patients of the Mercyseat. He does not, however, experience marginalization as a result of his gender. In fact, his "brotherhood" provides a community of others to which he may belong. While Wylie, Neary, and Ms Counihan navigate the "everyday psychopathology" of their heteronormative sexualities, and while Celia, a prostitute, represents for Murphy the suffocating pull of a domestic heteronormativity, Murphy's ideal psychic otherness belongs to a decidedly male homo-social community. In its maleness, it does not depend upon the constitutive optics of female-gendered hysteria and as such does not figure the hysterical male body as an object of desire. If desire exists in Beckett's rendering of hysteria, it is for the psychic state, for an immersion in the content of the mind.
The male rendering of hysteria excludes the bodily desire that forms the dominant narrativization of female hysteria. This exclusion exposes for us hysteria's underlying conventional heteronormativity. In redirecting the functioning of desire, this heteronormative male hysteria shifts the element of the disease that held such captivating power for Charcot and for the surrealists. As a consequence, this version of male hysteria may also omit the very mechanisms of fascination and reclamation that provided female hysteria its palpable fascination. If the knot of gender, heterosexuality, and psychic non-normativity is what produced the lasting relevance of the feminine-gendered hysterical aesthetic, perhaps Beckett allows us to unravel this knot; taking his lead, our imagined re-genderings of hysteria must contend with this underlying heteronormativity, must question desire and performance of hysteria through male bodies.
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Beckett, Samuel. Collected Poems in English and French. New York: Grove, 1977.
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Emily Christina Murphy
(1) The original text reads, "publiera notamment grace au soutien d'Eluard, plus de soixante ecrits surrealistes." All translations are the author's unless otherwise indicated.
(2) This is not to say that surrealism reduces its treatment of mental illness to a mere style. This conception of surrealism certainly existed contemporary to surrealism's height; for instance, the "English contributors Herbert Read and Hugh Sykes Davies" felt surrealism "was less a dynamic state of mind than ... an exciting style" (Nicholls 404). Instead, surrealism maintains a sense of the revolutionary potential of mental illness as a form of expression: mental illness challenges the bourgeois norms of health and sanity.
(3) Akathisia also features in Beckett's "Psychology Notes," which are the occasion for my analysis later on in this study: Beckett writes "Acathisis i.e., inability to sit down" in his notes on Wilhelm Stekel (TS10971_8, 24).
(4) Miss Dew's "Duck's Disease" is one particularly humorous instance of this everyday pathology; however, while certainly very "quirky," it cannot necessarily be classified as neurotic or as psychopathological.
Duck's disease is a distressing pathological condition in which the thighs are suppressed and the buttocks spring directly from behind the knees, aptly described in Steiss' nosomony as Panpygoptosis. Happily its incidence is small and confined, as the popular name suggests, to the weaker vessel ... It is non-contagious (though some observers have held the contrary), non-infectious, non-heritable, painless and intractable. Its aetiology remains obscure to all but the psychopathological wholehogs, who have shown it to be simply another embodiment of the neurotic Non me rebus sed mihi res. (98)
This nosological category, granted, pulls upon the representation of women's bodies in a parallel manner to the version of hysteria represented in Charcot's Iconographie de la Salpetriere, which I will discuss later in this essay. It does not, however, eroticize Miss Dew's body: just the opposite, it deprives her, a spinster, of value within the sexual economy within which the eroticized hysteric must move.
(5) This "dying hero" is the statue of Irish mythological hero, Cuchulain, at the General Post Office in Dublin.
(6) Beckett refers to Ernest Jones as "Erogenous Jones" in "Psychology Notebooks."
Emily Murphy is a doctoral candidate at Queen's University. She studies celebrity and mental illness (particularly schizophrenia) in the modernist period through traditional and digital humanities methodologies. In the summer of 2014, she was a co-instructor at the Digital Humanities Field School at the Bader International Study Centre in Herstmonceux Castle.
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|Title Annotation:||Samuel Beckett|
|Author:||Murphy, Emily Christina|
|Publication:||English Studies in Canada|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2014|
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