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A country road. A tree. Evening: Beckett in a Minor Key Landscape


A country road. A tree. Evening: Beckett in a Minor Key Landscape

Valcourt, Tracy (2014) A country road. A tree. Evening: Beckett in a Minor Key Landscape. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Valcourt_MA_S2014.pdf - Accepted Version


In 1936-37, Samuel Beckett made a six-month voyage to Germany, during which time he visited many galleries and museums and kept a detailed record of the art he viewed in what is now known as the “German diaries.” This turning towards the image was a means of addressing aesthetic problems that had arisen following the completion of Murphy near the end of June 1936. In Dresden, he viewed Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon, which he commended for its “bémolisé” or “minor key’’ romanticism, encapsulating the melancholy, muted and non-transcendent qualities Beckett admired in certain German Romantic and seventeenth-century Dutch landscape art. This painting became the key inspiration for the setting of Waiting for Godot and is representative of the sombre or brooding atmosphere Beckett consistently created in both his prose and theatre through a similar treatment of landscape. With attention to the writer’s immersion in the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape tradition (e.g. in Adam Elsheimer and Hercules Seghers) and its German Romantic descendents, the thesis examines Beckett’s own “minor key” aesthetic, to which pictorial motifs and techniques prominently contributed. Although his profound engagement with painting remains largely overlooked, Beckett’s sensitive art historical writings extend from critical essays and catalogue prefaces to letters and journal entries. Drawing on these writings, the thesis documents his unappreciated role in the modernist re-evaluation of landscape painting, one which proved transformative for his own art.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Valcourt, Tracy
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:15 April 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cahill, Susan and Furlani, Andre and Foster, Gavin
ID Code:978487
Deposited On:30 Jun 2014 15:20
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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