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Molloy Malone Dies the Unnamable by Samuel…

Molloy Malone Dies the Unnamable (original 1951; edition 1965)

by Samuel Beckett

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2,247172,852 (4.14)50
Title:Molloy Malone Dies the Unnamable
Authors:Samuel Beckett
Info:GROVE PRESS (NY) (1965), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:20th century, irish literature, modernism

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Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett (1951)


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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I'm speechless.

( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
Read Molloy which was tricky. Read Malone Dies which was trickier still. Once you're in the groove, they're wonderful, but takes some time to get there.

Have not yet read The Unnamable. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Aug 6, 2014 |
I guess I'm dense because I don't understand why these works are considered "great". I have been on a journey since 2006 to read every "great" work since the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Gilgamesh. (I've got time on my hands and hate TV.) When I reached the so-called Modern era, I've witnessed a decline in competency by the writer which has only increased my frustration. What is the author trying to say? Does technique trump story-telling? These "great" authors are only great as blowhards. They conspire with incompetent editors and academicians to foist on the public their poor judgments. That could be why there is such a huge disconnect when it comes to best sellers. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
Malone Dies, a short novel by Samual Becket, the middle of a trilogy, focuses on a dying man, who is bedridden in a bare, amorphous room, that might be a hospital room, or he might instead be in an asylum. We never really know. No friends or family visit him, and all he does is scribble in the notebook we are now reading over the last weeks over his life, until his scribblings become inane ramblings, and presumably the end has come.

Along the way, he describes various abortive stories, mainly focusing on Sapo, who later is named Macmann. Although he denies that these stories are in any way biographical, the confused, somewhat amnesiac narrator is far from a reliable witness, and the reader regularly suspects that at least some of these stories are actual memories. This becomes particularly disturbing towards the end, when it seems that Macmann is witness to some horrific murders. Or is it Malone who is the murderer - he at one point claims to have killed half a dozen people.

Much of the time, though, Malone describes his own life and musings in painstaking detail, such as the stick he uses to fetch items that fall on the floor, the pencil he uses to write, and his various physiological issues. Given that his entire world is this one room, with virtually nothing in it, this internal obsession makes some sense, even if its pointed triviality reflects the larger message of how trivial life is. But these obsessive stream-of-consciousness rants are challenging to read.

Because of this, the novel as a whole is not an easy read to say the least. But it is so worth it, because of Beckett so fantastically realising his aim of creating the most minimalistic and nihilistic of novels. I don't ever remember a novel having such a claustrophobic, doom-laden setting. Not only is the world a drab room, but it is where Malone knows he will soon die in. Although Malone seems happy enough writing his own thoughts and stories, the happiness seems also a part of his delusion perhaps. The world is one of nightmarish moments, of insanity, decay, purposelessness. The writing oozes symbolism of death everywhere, from the pencil whittling away to nothing as one prominent example, but the pages are littered with others, and at times almost appears a linguistic exercise in how many ways one can describe the emptiness of life. There is almost nothing redeeming here, although a few features do provide some relief. First there is humour, albeit of an often dark, macabre kind. Then there is the fact that the narrator, despite being alone, on his death bed, decaying away, has a surprising drive - he is intent even to his last moments on creating stories, investigating his surroundings, observing his world and thoughts. Finally, the nothingness and purposelessness itself become peaceful, almost uplifting: the narrator might or might not have carried out unspeakable acts, including murder, but his own deterioration and eventual deathwipe this out, nullifying his guilt, as death nullifies everything bad or painful in the end. Related to this, the final few lines are a peaceful, poetic ending, almost like a sigh of calm after the violence of Lemuel's murders only very recently described.

Another layer that this novel explores is truth and reliability of humans as witnesses to it. Is Malone retelling his own life? Or hiding that from us? How successful can he be with any of this, when his own memory is fallible, as most of our memories are towards the end? And how much of Malone's life is reflected in Beckett's? As readers, we are left with an unnerving sense that even if life had a meaning, which this novel clearly argues against, we couldn't keep hold of it if we tried, at least not for very long, before we either fictionalise it in our minds, our memory dies, or we do. ( )
  RachDan | Jun 15, 2014 |
i feel like all bernhard emanated from molloy, and kinbote too. ( )
  wensley | Dec 20, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beckett, Samuelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowles, PatrickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Josipovici, GabrielIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am in my mother's room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802150918, Paperback)

Samuel Beckett's brilliance as a dramatist--as the creator of Waiting for Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, and that despairing pas de deux Endgame--has tended to overshadow his gifts as a novelist. Yet he's unmistakably one of the great fiction writers of our century. As a young man he took dictation (literally) from James Joyce, and absorbed everything that myopic maestro had to offer when it came to Anglo-Irish prosody. Still, Beckett's instincts would ultimately steer him away from Joyce's delirious play with high and low diction, toward a more concentrated, even compulsive style. His earlier novels, like Murphy or Watt, give us a taste of what was to come. But Beckett truly hit his stride with a trilogy of early-1950s masterpieces: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable. Here he dispenses with all the customary props of contemporary fiction--including exposition, plot, and increasingly, paragraphs--and turns his attention to consciousness itself. Nobody has ever evoked the pain of existence, or the steady slide toward nonexistence, with such poetic, garrulous accuracy. And once you've attuned yourself to the epistemological vaudeville of Beckett's prose, he turns out to be the funniest writer on the planet--ever.

None of the three entries in the trilogy is exactly amenable to summary. It's fair to say, though, that Molloy is the easiest to read, with at least a bare-bones narrative and an abundance of comical set pieces. In one famous episode, the narrator spends page after page figuring out how to vary the sucking stones he carries in his pockets:

And while I gazed thus at my stones, revolving interminable martingales all equally defective, and crushing handfuls of sand, so that the sand ran through my fingers and fell back on the strand, yes, while thus I lulled my mind and part of my body, one day suddenly it dawned on the former, dimly, that I might perhaps achieve my purpose without increasing the number of my pockets, or reducing the number of my stones, but simply by sacrificing the principle of trim. The meaning of this illumination, which suddenly began to sing within me, like a verse of Isaiah, or of Jeremiah, I did not penetrate at once, and notably the word trim, which I had never met with, in this sense, long remained obscure.
This nutty ratiocination goes on for much, much longer, until the narrator loses patience and throws the stones away. And that's a fair encapsulation of Beckett's philosophy: he argues for the essential pointlessness of life--the solitary, wretched splendor of human existence--but does so in a comic rather than a tragic register, which ends up softening or even overpowering the bleakness of his initial premise. So Malone Dies opens with a typically morbid mood-lifter ("I shall soon be quite dead at last in spite of it all") and then makes endless comedic hay out of Malone's failure to keel over. And by the time we hit The Unnamable, we're forced to wonder whether the narrator actually exists: "I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on." Happily, Beckett worried these same questions and hypotheses to the end of his career, with increasingly minimalistic gusto. But he never topped the intensity or linguistic brilliance of this mind-bending three-part invention. --James Marcus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:01 -0400)

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Molloy is divided into two sections. In the first section, Molloy goes in search of his mother. In the second, he is pursued by Moran, an agent.

(summary from another edition)

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