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Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable (1951)

by Samuel Beckett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Beckett's Trilogy (Omnibus)

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2,771254,146 (4.15)81
The first novel of Samuel Beckett's mordant and exhilarating midcentury trilogy introduces us to Molloy, who has been mysteriously incarcerated, and who subsequently escapes to go discover the whereabouts of his mother. In the latter part of this curious masterwork, a certain Jacques Moran is deputized by anonymous authorities to search for the aforementioned Molloy. In the trilogy's second novel, Malone, who might or might not be Molloy himself, addresses us with his ruminations while in the act of dying. The third novel consists of the fragmented monologue-delivered, like the monologues of the previous novels, in a mournful rhetoric that possesses the utmost splendor and beauty-of what might or might not be an armless and legless creature living in an urn outside an eating house. Taken together, these three novels represent the high-water mark of the literary movement we call Modernism. Within their linguistic terrain, where stories are taken up, broken off, and taken up again, where voices rise and crumble and are resurrected, we can discern the essential lineaments of our modern condition, and encounter an awesome vision, tragic yet always compelling and always mysteriously invigorating, of consciousness trapped and struggling inside the boundaries of nature.… (more)
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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
It's difficult for me to write about this one. When I was a young undergraduate, Beckett's work hit me like a sandbag between the eyes, and this trilogy was the ultimate blow. It was like suddenly understanding the *how* of how awful everything was, in my viscera. I never quite recovered from it: I'm not sure whether to thank Samuel Beckett, or curse his memory.

Of course you must also understand that, as he's showing you the architecture of wrong-ness, Beckett is also excruciatingly funny.

Far beyond 5 stars. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Apr 22, 2022 |
What a trilogy of despair & hopelessness this is! Or, at least, that's the way I remember it. After I read this I'd pretty much had enuf of Beckett for awhile. If you've ever wanted to get inside the mind of a hopelessly trapped person.. & then do it again, these 3 novels are for you! I shd really re-read these but, the usual reason not to holds: there're too many things I haven't read yet that my reading time can be better spent on. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Relentless and amazing internal monologues running throughout these three short novels. ( )
  brakketh | Jan 24, 2022 |
These three novels examine death and do so in a sparse examining style. I will read these again (in a few years). ( )
  MccMichaelR | Jul 23, 2020 |
[The Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable] - Samuel Beckett

It was a long time ago. How long ago I can't really say. Perhaps I was bamboozled it would appear from the evidence, but what evidence from the book lying on my desk, the book that I am not going to read. Charity begins at home, but in this case it was a shop selling charity, who was selling this charity and was I in the mood for buying? I was gazing upwards and I couldn't quite see, somebody was in the way, my neck was hurting a fortiori. Movement was impossible, crammed in nowhere to go, if only I could reach up, it is tantalisingly close, rows and rows wherever I looked, but I could not see too much because my head had become stuck, stuck looking upwards, but I could see those dirty dusty jackets and if I could move my arm above my head then surely I would get some relief, I could enclose my fingers around a spine and a sharp tug might do the trick. There I did it, but horror of horrors a sound like cardboard fluttering on wood, I jerked forward trapping a paper object against my chest, still could not move my head, how long did I stay in this position, perhaps not very long, because a shove from the right unlocked my potential, just enough, just enough, the smell of damp overcoats cold winter dampness, chilling I got my right hand under the object, the thought of trying to bend down to pick something off the floor made me press tighter, tighter, but this prevented me moving my hand any further, a short cough, not my cough I don't think, but difficult to place, but now I was getting hot under my collar, pressure from behind, more movement a grunted apology an arm appearing above my head, but not my arm, my arm was trapped, but I could now move my head, fresh air, fresh cold air, a space had been made to my left. I was holding my breath, I could hold my breath underwater for 52 seconds, not moving, concentrating, trying not to panic, but thinking what it would feel like to drown, bubbles, choking, thrashing of arms, light disappearing. I escaped I was holding a book, I looked inside: Lindsey 1980 it said, was that a girl or a boy a woman or a man, evidence that somebody had possessed this object, which had certainly taken on the look of something unpleasant, or was that just the dust jacket with its mouldy mottled brown yellow design, it somehow looked forbidding, not welcoming. I dare you to open me with intent, intent to what, intent to get through the first paragraph. The first paragraph finished at page 84, but the count started at page 11. I could not hold my breath for that long, but I felt I might need to. I needed a distraction, something to stop my eyes slipping down the page, slipping into a temporary unconsciousness: a temporary death, from which waking up would be a guilt ridden experience. I know this. Molloy, Moran, Malone, Mahood would all slip by in an unnamable abyss. What did Lindsey think, that pretty college girl in glasses, I am quite sure that Lindsey is what I have said she was or is, but perhaps no longer; college girls grow up, but probably not growing up thinking of Molloy, Moran Malone or Mahood. She might have never forgiven the author for changing Sapos name to Macmann, but closer reading would have revealed that Sapo was just a shortening of his Mothers name; Mrs Saposcat. He became Macmann because he needed the lineage of Molloy, Moran, Malone. Mahood. Lindsey probably thought that a novel written in the genre of the Absurd and with the technique of a stream of consciousness becomes absurd stream of consciousness. How much of the absurd stream of consciousness could she take, she might not have had a choice because she had written her name on the flyleaf, part of a college curriculum. How long before her eyes glazed over how long before her mind wandered to the girl next door. The phone rings, she must get up to answer: it is 1980. Sapo is no more, forgotten never to be revisited, but the book has not read itself. Lindsey gets back into position and she ploughs on through the Unnamable: the head in the glass jar, the voices, the craving for silence, will it never end? It did end, but forty pages from the finishing line; Malone and Moran although going round in circles appeared to be getting somewhere, nowhere good, but somewhere. Malone got to be dead which was his ambition from the start, but the Unnamable, oh the unnamable just got stuck and her neck started to ache. I can't go on. I go on.
3.5 stars. ( )
2 vote baswood | Dec 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beckett, Samuelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowles, PatrickTranslator (Molloy)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Josipovici, GabrielIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, RussellCover designersecondary 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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The first novel of Samuel Beckett's mordant and exhilarating midcentury trilogy introduces us to Molloy, who has been mysteriously incarcerated, and who subsequently escapes to go discover the whereabouts of his mother. In the latter part of this curious masterwork, a certain Jacques Moran is deputized by anonymous authorities to search for the aforementioned Molloy. In the trilogy's second novel, Malone, who might or might not be Molloy himself, addresses us with his ruminations while in the act of dying. The third novel consists of the fragmented monologue-delivered, like the monologues of the previous novels, in a mournful rhetoric that possesses the utmost splendor and beauty-of what might or might not be an armless and legless creature living in an urn outside an eating house. Taken together, these three novels represent the high-water mark of the literary movement we call Modernism. Within their linguistic terrain, where stories are taken up, broken off, and taken up again, where voices rise and crumble and are resurrected, we can discern the essential lineaments of our modern condition, and encounter an awesome vision, tragic yet always compelling and always mysteriously invigorating, of consciousness trapped and struggling inside the boundaries of nature.

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