Samuel Beckett's Novel

Samuel Beckett's Novel "Watt"
A Psychological Inquiry

Gottfried Büttner. Translated by Joseph Dolan. Foreword by Deidre Bair

144 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 6 illus.
Cloth 1984 | ISBN 9780812279320 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512800913 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"The finest full-length work devoted to Watt. . . . The most important study to date, and quite possibly the standard interpretation for many years to come."—Deirdre Bair, author of Samuel Beckett: A Biography

"Allows the reader an extension of consciousness into new realms of being, an insight into the irrational, into the world of the unborn and the dead. The novel reads as a sequence of different states of consciousness and, indeed, of life."—Konrad Schoell

For years the novel Watt has been overlooked or explained away in the most cursory fashion by scholars and critics who have otherwise paid the most scrupulous attention to the rest of Samuel Beckett's work. Now, Gottfried Büttner, a philosopher as well as a physician trained in psychology, offers a penetrating analysis of the work's narrative form and a convincing interpretation of Watt's journey.

Büttner interprets Watt through hermeneutic analysis in order to demonstrate the metaconscious state of being which he believes is central not only to this novel, but also to Beckett's oeuvre. Büttner's method combines a biographical, psychological, and anthropological approach. He offers an exegesis of the narrative form and moves to a convincing interpretation of Watt's journey as the Lebenswanderung from birth to death and back to birth into the unknown. His analysis reveals that in Watt Beckett sought to unveil the hidden experience of a soul suffering under the ordeal of birth and death, and even under an ordeal of rebirth. A kind of soul-wandering, a metamorphosis of the spirit, has thus been made clear for the reader in the figure of Watt in Beckett's novel.

Büttner's work is informed not only by his far-reaching literary interests but by his twenty years of intellectual friendship with Beckett. Their correspondence has touched upon questions of translation, philological intent, and interpretation of the text. While Beckett made it clear that he would not explicate his writings and would insist that text and exegesis stand separately, his degree of interest in Büttner's work is unparalleled.

Gottfried Büttner is a practicing physician and has also been a lecturer in the psycology of literature at the University of Hessen in Kassel.

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