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.
- ethics of alterity
- postcolonial novel
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Literature and Literary Theory