Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 46 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Aashish Kaul


Beckett, Buddhism, Memory, Nature, Proust, Taoism, Nature in literature, Mysticism in literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This essay attempts to examine the later prose of Samuel Beckett within the frame of a growing body of critical research that aligns the author’s universal philosophy of the human condition with Indian and Buddhist philosophies. Inspired by the research of Lidan Lin, in her essay “Samuel Beckett’s Encounter with the East,” and Paul Foster’s Beckett and Zen: A Study of Dilemma in the Novels of Samuel Beckett, I take up a similar line of inquiry, choosing to focus on moments in the trilogy that are concerned with contact between the individual and the natural world. While many critics have written on the Beckettian landscape and its relation to the Irish country that Beckett explored as a young man, I choose to read these moments of immersion within the natural world as representative of the mystic philosophy that Beckett outlines in his earlier critical work, Proust. The first section of the essay deals with Beckett’s interest in the limits of artistic representation, and the influence of Schopenhauer on Beckett’s Proust. The second section attempts a close reading of several moments in the trilogy alongside the critical foundation established in the first section. The close reading of the second section is in conversation with two extraneous sources: David Hinton’s Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape and Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, a collection of Zen and pre-Zen writings compiled by Paul Reps. These sources are utilized to establish parallels between Beckett’s philosophy and a tradition of Eastern thought and writing. Hinton’s work is utilized for its accessible summarizations of Zen and Taoist philosophy, while Reps’ collection provides actual Eastern sources, the philosophy of which the Beckettian dilemma resembles.