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Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Marco Bernini

Bernini, M. (2015). 'Crawling Creating Creatures: On Beckett's Liminal Minds.'. European Journal of English Studies 19(1): 39-54.

Author(s) from Durham


The continuity and contiguity between animal and human beings in Beckett’s work has been the subject of sustained critical attention. The recurring dehumanisation or degeneration of his characters’ mental faculties and behaviours has largely been analysed as an ‘ostensible animalization’ of human nature – following a reading of the ‘creaturely’ spectrum as a regression from the human to the animal. In contrast, this article considers the creaturely level in Beckett’s narrative as occupied by undeveloped human cognisers as opposed to (and sometimes rancorously opposing) fully fledged Humans. If Beckett’s formal minimalism has been extensively foregrounded, this essay draws on contemporary cognitive science and phenomenology in order to define and examine what the author calls Beckett’s cognitive liminalism – his literary exploration of liminal states of cognition and experience, of which the concept of the ‘creature’ constitutes a foundational element.

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