The ethico-politics of homo-ness: Beckett's How It Is and Casement's Black Diaries

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3 Scopus citations


In recent years, Beckett studies has taken an 'ethical turn' as critics have given increased attention to the status of the Other and otherness in the writer's oeuvre. How It Is, a key text for these critics, was written as Beckett was reading the newly published Black Diaries of Roger Casement, a volume that contains homoerotic content long considered scandalous for the Irish republican icon and yet offers a remarkable vision of social relations structured around sameness or what Leo Bersani calls 'homo-ness'. Reading Beckett's novel alongside Casement's diaries reveals the significance of How It Is for thinking an ethico-politics that depends neither on the ideological foundations of the nation-state nor on critical perspectives that emphasise the primacy of difference, but rather on a fundamental reorientation of sociality. In this regard, Beckett's anti-redemptive narrative may be considered a work of penetrating utopian writing, which nonetheless reminds us of the hazards of utopian thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-261
Number of pages19
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Beckett
  • Casement
  • ethics of alterity
  • homo-ness
  • postcolonial novel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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