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Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath$
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James McNaughton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198822547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198822547.001.0001

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Prophetic Relish

Prophetic Relish

Famine Politics in Beckett’s Endgame

(p.137) 6Prophetic Relish
Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath

James McNaughton

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 demonstrates how Endgame reckons with man-made genocide through famine to broaden debates about what counts as genocide postwar, to source recent starvation policies in European imperialism, and to extend Joyce’s indictment of English literary complicity, from Shakespeare to Kipling. The drama replays into dwindled dialogue political tactics from the 1930s centered on food politics: both catastrophic threats of starvation used to subordinate, and saving prophecies of plenitude used as advocacy for barbarity. Endgame performs the aftermath of Hitler’s central biopolitical concept, Lebensraum: the promise of living room comforts through the acquisition of colonial territory in the east. The play arguably alludes to Ukrainian terrain, but geographic place remains filtered through the no-place of political imagination, reflecting how colonial spaces targeted for their granaried bounty themselves are largely linguistic constructions. Finally, the play asks whether fictional depictions of nineteenth-century imperialist history naturalize and help decriminalize modern murder by starvation.

Keywords:   Beckett, famine, Endgame, politics, biopower, colonialism, genocide, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Hitler

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