Zen and the Art of Self-Negation in Samuel Beckett's Not I

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


Samuel Beckett's late plays stage minimal images of body and mind: a woman sits in an autonomously-moving rocking chair listening to her recorded voice (Rockaby); a disembodied head breathes audibly while three recordings of his voice play (That Time); a mouth suspended in the dark speaks a rapid outpouring of disjointed phrases (Not I). As the actor Donald Davis put it, Not I's visual and aural minimalism (like many of Beckett's plays from the 1970s and 80s) makes Waiting for Godot look "like an MGM musical."1 Devoid of whole characters and dynamic action, these brief pieces stage streams of thought and physically restrained human figures surrounded by dark voids.

Document Object Identifier (DOI)



Western Michigan University

Publication Information

Comparative Drama

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