Article Title

Krapp's Last Tape and Critical Theory


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

If "literary theory is a literary genre...interrelated with other genres in terms of parts and methods, and...analyzable with them as a member of a group, movement, or period."1 then we ought to be able to discover in a fictional work relations with theory contemporary to it. My argument is that we can; my example is Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape. Krapp - author, editor and actor - is a sort of literary Jack-of-all trades; his tapes and taping are paradigmatic literary products and processes. Consequently, the play's complexities - its elaborate layering and mixing of genres, time-frames, and points-of-view - offer abundant material for such an analysis. Looking carefully at the play, we will find thematic and structural parallels to several major issues addressed by twentieth-century critical theory: the nature of genres, the characteristics of literary and non-literary language, the importance of history in interpretation, and the role of readers and critics as creators of a work's meaning through interpretation and evaluation.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.