Samuel Beckett’s “Dante…Bruno.Vico.. Joyce”

… has a great summary of Vico’s philosophical system (in Scienza Nuova) as it pertains to FW.

But first, Beckett’s opening lines:

“The danger is in the neatness of identifications. The conception of Philosophy and Philology as a pair of nigger minstrels out of the Teatro dei Piccoli is soothing, like the contemplation of a carefully folded ham-sandwich.”

Anyway, I will quote here in (somewhat) full:

“Giambattista Vico was a practical roundheaded Neapolitan. It pleases Croce to consider him as a mystic, essentially speculative, “disdegnoso dell’ empirismo.” It is a surprising interpretation, seeing that more than three-fifths of his Scienza Nuova is concerned with empirical investigation. Croce opposed him to the reformative materialistic school of Ugo Grozio, and absolves him from the utilitarian preoccupations of Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Bayle and Machiavelli. All this cannot be swallowed without protest. Vico defines Providence as: “una mente spesso diversa ed alle volte tutta contraria e sempre superiore ad essi fini particolari che essi uomini se avevano proposti; dei quali fini ristretti fatti mezzi per servire a fini piu ampi, gli ha sempre adoperati per conservare l’umana generazione in questa terra.” What could be more definitely utilitarianism? His treatment of the origin and functions of poetry, language and myth, as will appear later, is as far removed from the mystical as it is possible to imagine. For our immediate purpose, however, it matters little whether we consider him as a mystic or as a scientific investigator; but there are no two ways about considering him as an innovator. His division of the development of human society into three ages: Theocratic, Heroic, Human (civilized), with a corresponding classification of language: Hieroglyphic (sacred), Metaphorical (poetic), Philosophical (capable of abstraction and generalization), was by no means new, although it must have appeared so to his contemporaries. He derived this convenient classification from the Egyptians, via Herodotus. At the same time it is impossible to deny the originality with which he applied and developed its implications. His exposition of the ineluctable circular progression of Society was completely new, although the germ of it was contained in Giordano Bruno’s treatment of identified contraries.”

[Continued here.]

1 Comment

Filed under Criticism, FW, Our Exagmination, Work in Progress

One response to “Samuel Beckett’s “Dante…Bruno.Vico.. Joyce”

  1. Brilliant stuff. My best years in the theater were when Beckett and I used to meet in Paris in the mid 80′s and I’d end up going back to NY with a manuscript such as All Strange Away.
    Miss those days.
    Miss Backett terribly.
    Best
    Gerald
    http://www.geraldthomas.com

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