More than an Artist in the Making: Samuel Beckett’s “Assumption” Revisited | JF Fernández | Anglia

Samuel Beckett’s first published short story, “Assumption” (1929), is usually described as an apprentice work, “a piece of marginally interesting juvenilia” (Pattie 2000: 52), a beginner’s attempt toward a modernist short story in which the influence of James Joyce is clear. Indeed, it has been claimed that Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the model underlying Beckett’s early foray into creative fiction. The current paper seeks to reassess the established critical appreciation of “Assumption”, that of being a parody of Joyce’s novel by a playful disciple; instead, I will argue that Beckett was in fact questioning the very principles of his master’s art. If Portrait is the epitome of the Künstlerroman, Beckett in his short piece debunked the myth of the young artist by consciously downgrading the aesthetic concerns of his protagonist and by disrupting the revered categories of modernist fiction.

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