“Say a Body. Where None.”: Beckett’s Worstward Ho and Sartre’s Theory of the Imagination


Critics often misinterpret Beckett’s Worstward Ho as being about the phenomenology of presence. The narrator, however, engages not with things that exist but, instead, the process of imaginative conjuring. The procedure resembles Sartre’s phenomenological method in The Imaginary and Beckett’s fictional depiction of the imagination serves as a corrective to Sartre’s “essential poverty” of the image—its lack of context. Worstward Ho demonstrates instead the image’s polyvalent contextual compatibility, which explains not only the referential ambivalence of Beckett’s work, but also the truth function of fiction itself, wherein the imaginary particular is amenable to general insights into the real.

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