Bearing witness in How It Is

Russell Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    A central preoccupation of How It Is is the act of bearing witness: "I say it as I hear it." Readings of the novel turn on whether the text ultimately bears witness to the presence of alterity or cancels it in a final claim of absolute aesthetic autonomy. Here I draw out the text's relationship to two contrasting paradigms of witnessing: the theological paradigm exemplified by Dante's Comedy and the secular paradigm formulated by Giorgio Agamben in Remnants of Auschwitz. I argue that the text's paratactic structure, pronominal indeterminacy and ambiguous negations bear out Agamben's secular paradigm of bearing witness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-360
    Number of pages10
    JournalSamuel Beckett Today - Aujourd hui
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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