Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 183

Beckett’s reputation as one of twentieth century literature’s most impenitent, and perhaps eccentric, innovators was assured long before he embarked on the short novels of his career’s later years. As well as being as inventive and filled with integrity as any of his earlier works, they also provide, in a...

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Beckett’s reputation as one of twentieth century literature’s most impenitent, and perhaps eccentric, innovators was assured long before he embarked on the short novels of his career’s later years. As well as being as inventive and filled with integrity as any of his earlier works, they also provide, in a more lyric, chaste, distilled form, many of the philosophical and aesthetic concerns of a writer who has devoted his career to performing the burial rites of Romanticism.

Ill Seen Ill Said is an expression of an extraordinary singularity and consistency of artistic vision—so much so, in fact, that it is tempting to regard it, together with the two other central works of the series, Company (1980) and Worstward Ho (1983), as constituting a redaction of the critically acclaimed trilogy, Molloy (1951; English translation, 1955), Malone meurt (1951; Malone Dies, 1956), and L’Innommable (1953; The Unnamable, 1958). Such a view, however, is not necessary. Ill Seen Ill Said can readily be appreciated as a work which speaks for itself in the artistic tone and philosophical idiom which has made Samuel Beckett an important voice in modern literature.

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