FROM SLOTHFUL WANDERERS TO CRAWLING BODIES: DANTE’S BELACQUA AS BECKETT’S MODERN EVERYMAN

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47333/modernizm.2020265785

Keywords:

Samuel Beckett, Dante, The Divine Comedy, Belacqua, Modernist Novel

Abstract

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was a life-long obsession for Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), and the Divine Comedy (1320) had a great impact on his literary trajectory. Concerned with “Purgatory” in particular, Beckett was fascinated with Dante’s Belacqua, a character Dante encounters in Ante-purgatory where the souls wait for a lifetime in order to begin their journey of purgation. Belacqua is portrayed by Dante as a slothful figure who is not much interested in purging his soul and seems quite content with his lethargic state. While for Dante, Belacqua is a pitiful soul, an epitome of sloth, and a negative example for humankind; for Beckett, he is the ultimate representative of the modern man who has lost his purpose in life and his will to make sense of the world he occupies. In Beckett’s novels, then, Dante’s Belacqua is transformed from an exemplary character serving for a moral message into an ‘everyman’ figure reflecting the existential predicament of the twentieth-century individual. Dante’s Belacqua, in this sense, constitutes the gist of Beckett’s outsider protagonists who are depicted as aimless and indifferent wanderers. Therefore, these characters are portrayed as merely different versions of Belacqua. In this light, this article purposes to discuss how Beckett adapts Dante’s Belacqua to the twentieth-century context and revives him as the epitome of the modern everyman who suffers from an existential plight, and how Beckett’s oeuvre is, indeed, shaped by this very character.

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Published

2020-12-31

How to Cite

DANACI, S. (2020). FROM SLOTHFUL WANDERERS TO CRAWLING BODIES: DANTE’S BELACQUA AS BECKETT’S MODERN EVERYMAN. Journal of Modernism and Postmodernism Studies (JOMOPS), 1(2), 84-95. https://doi.org/10.47333/modernizm.2020265785