The Topos of the Mound in Samuel Beckett’s Writing

Open access


This essay aims to bring to the fore the varied and broad valences of the ‘mound’ in Beckett’s oeuvre. In my reading, the mound functions as a profuse, multi-purpose symbol, that coalesces into a variety of topoi indicative of Mother Earth, that figure in the thighs, the nipples, the pubis/pubic area and bones, ruins, ants, birth, fetus, and elemental maternal death. I embarked upon the present study before the commencement of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, a collaborative project between the Centre for Manuscript Genetics at the University of Antwerp, the Beckett International Foundation, the University of Reading and Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin. Valorising the author’s editing, additions, notes and comments provided by the upcoming digitalized manuscripts of Beckett in 2014 and 2015, I expect to contribute to the work in progress, and to the corpus of Beckett studies in general, especially those approaching his bilingual works. It is my contention that the frequency of certain terms, the diagrams that Beckett included in some of his letters (as is the case of the mound in Happy Days), shed significant light on the nature of his symbolism.

Anzieu, Didier. Beckett. Paris: Seuil/Archimbaud, 2007.

Bair, Deirdre. Samuel Beckett. London: Picador, 1980.

Baker, Phil. Beckett and the Mythology of Psychoanalysis. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.

Beckett, Samuel. Act without Words I. New York: Grove, Inc., 1958. - - -.Collected Shorter Prose 1945-1980.

Calder, 1984. - - -. En attendant Godot. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1952. - - -.Endgame. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1958. - - -.Happy Days. Grove Press Inc., 1961. - - -.More Pricks than Kicks. Picador, 1974. - - -.Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove, Inc., 1954. - - -.Waiting for Godot. Londond: Faber and Faber Limited, 1955.

Brater, E. ‘Intertextuality’ in Oppenheim, L., (Ed.) Palgrave Advances in Samuel Beckett Studies. London: Palgrave, 2004.

Brown, Norman O. Life Against Death. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1959.

Buttner, G. Samuel Beckett’s Novel Watt. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984. Cirlot, J. E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1971.

Feldman, Mathew. Sourcing Aporetics: An Empirical Study on Philosophical Influences in the Development of Samuel Beckett’s Writing. Oxford Brookes University, 2004.

Hoffman, Frederick J. Samuel Beckett. Canada: Forum House, 1969. Print.

Knowlson, J. Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett. London: Bloomsbury, 1996.

Fehsenfeld Martha Dow and Lois More Overbeck (eds).The Letters of Samuel Beckett, vol. I: 1929-1940. New York: Cambridge UP, 2009a.

Maude, Ulrika. Beckett, Technology and the Body. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. The United States: Microsoft Corporation, 1993-2002. DVD.

Harmon, Maurice. No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett & Alan Schneider. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.

O’Hara, J. D. Samuel Beckett’s Hidden Drives: Structural Uses of Depth Psychology. University Press of Florida, 1997.

The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989.

Rank, Otto. The Trauma of Birth. Kegan Paul, Trench, Turbner and Co., 1929.

Weller, Shane. Staging Psychoanalysis: Endgame and the Freudian Theory of the Anal-Sadistic Phase. Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, 22, 2010.

American, British and Canadian Studies

The Journal of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 56 56 24
PDF Downloads 16 16 7