Efforts to unravel the strands of philosophy and literature in Samuel Beckett’s work have marked each phase of its critical reception. While the archival turn in scholarship has shed valuable light on Beckett’s debts to philosophy, it has also exposed the rift between the epistemological assumptions of scholars and Beckett’s philosophy of ignorance. I argue that Beckett’s tragic view of philosophy took literary shape as a species of metaphysical horror, Leszek Kolakowski’s term for the failed quest for the absolute in Western thought. Beckett’s legacy is then viewed in a postsecular context as negative theodicy, the struggle to come to grips with the ethical and anthropological consequences of metaphysical horror.

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