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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the aesthetics of the experimental modernist fiction of Joseph Conrad and Samuel Beckett to open up debates about reenactment of dance in the twentieth century. Using the theories of Gabriele Brandstetter and Paul Ricoeur to explore correspondences in dance and literary skepticism about narrative, the discussion shows how both writers interpolate their stories with fleeting passages of gesture or movement phrases that syncopate and undermine the teleological flow of narrative. This discussion suggests a choreographic re-embodiment between dance and text that focuses on communication beyond words. The similarity of Conrad and Beckett lies in their uses of gesture, but while Conrad’s movement phrases re-embody early twentieth-century expressivism, Beckett’s look back to early twentieth-century innovations in abstraction which examine the mechanical function of the body, rhythm in time and space. Beckett does not reference a mental (or emotional) state, whereas Conrad’s gestures are affective, identifying an emotional interiority.

Keywords: modernism, narrative, expressivism, Joseph Conrad, Samuel Beckett, Gabriele Brandstetter, Paul Ricoeur

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