Iconic Spaces looks at Samuel Beckett’s mature theatrical work as a displaced theology of the icon. Sandra Wynands rejects conventional existentialist or nihilist interpretations of Beckett’s work, arguing instead that beneath the text, in the depths of language and being, Beckett creates an absolutely irreducible, transcendent space. She traces a nondual model of perception and experience through a selection of Beckett’s art—both critical and dramatic works—focusing in particular on four minimalist plays: Catastrophe, Not I, Quad, and Film.
Iconic Spaces makes an important contribution to scholars and students of literature, philosophy, theatre studies, and religion by giving them an exciting new way of reading and experiencing Beckett’s work.
“This is an original, adventurous, and absorbing book. It deploys an acute understanding of contemporary philosophical writing in order to address the demands Beckett makes on his readers and spectators in nonreductive, affirmative fashion; and it also reinvigorates our understanding of Beckett’s relationship to religion and theology by exploring in some detail, and, arguably for the first time, the extent of Beckett’s engagement as a writer, not with positive religion, but with apophatic religious thought.” —Leslie Hill, The University of Warwick
”In this remarkable and scrupulously argued book about Samuel Beckett, Sandra Wynands provides a compelling analysis of the postmodern experience of God’s absence. She does so partly by showing how atheism, rigorously deconstructed, can converge with the insights and strategies of negative theology. Sandra Wynands is daringly insightful about Beckett, while also situating his work within a set of historical and cultural parameters that are described with impressive learning and breadth of vision.” —Patrick Grant, University of Victoria
“ _Iconic Spaces_ is an impressive piece of work. In exploring the relationship between ‘negative theology’ and Samuel Beckett’s late work for the stage, Sandra Wynands makes an original and important contribution to Beckett studies and to modern drama and theatre studies more generally. Her discussion ranges widely across difficult and complex disciplinary, theoretical, philosophical, and critical materials with notable maturity and clarity, providing startlingly original insights on almost every page.” —Ric Knowles, University of Guelph
“An insightful and significant book within both Beckett studies and critical theory more generally . . . Wynands is at her most interesting in her concrete and detailed accounts of the stage images of Beckett’s last plays and, what is more, her full knowledge both of Beckett scholarship and critical theory enables her to surpass them both so as to produce a reading of Beckett which raises the possibility of a non-religious parallel to negative theology—a ’literary apophaticism.’ “ — Literature and Theology
“. . . Wynands leaves little doubt that Beckett, who once claimed to possess ‘no religious feeling,’ is perhaps for that very reason a profound ‘thinker of religion and the spiritual life—a final paradox that should further inform and propel the endless investigation into the gift of Beckett’s writing.” —_Journal of Religion_