Beckett's Women Contemporaries

edited by Georgina Nugent

Georgina Nugent (ed.), "Beckett's Women Contemporaries", Journal of Beckett Studies 32.1, Edinburgh University Press, 2023.

Recent decades have seen an increasingly insistent reassessment of the role of women, gender and sexuality in Samuel Beckett’s œuvre. Less well established, however, is the nature of Beckett’s relationship with his women contemporaries, and the confluences and affinities of styles that exist between his work and theirs. The diversity of their makeup – encompassing writers and artists Beckett knew of, criticized, praised, corresponded with, and collaborated with – contrasts with a suspicious uniformity with respect to the scarcity of critical material comparing Beckett’s work with theirs, Beckett’s influence on theirs, and perhaps most damningly, their influence on Beckett. This special issue of the Journal of Beckett Studies situates Beckett’s writing in a constellation of five of his contemporaries: Barbara Bray, Djuna Barnes, Louise Bourgeois, Marguerite Duras, and Maria Irene Fornes. The diversity of the crossovers and connections that exist between Beckett and these figures allows us to move beyond a homogenous exploration of gendered absence with respect to Beckett’s affinities with women writers or artists. Featuring work from leading Beckett scholars, and paying particular attention to the translator Barbara Bray — perhaps the most significant creative interlocutor of Beckett’s entire career, and a figure who (correctly) anticipated that she would become an “invisible woman” in the context of Beckett’s life and work —“Beckett’s Women Contemporaries” not only diversifies the network of figures Beckett’s work is situated alongside, but facilitates a reassessment of the role, application, and ideological consequences of slippery critical terms such as ‘influence’ and ‘intertextuality’, together with the critical methodologies that often occur in tandem with such comparative studies.

The Special Issue is available in hardback and also online here:


Georgina Nugent is Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Department of English and American Studies, University of Vienna.