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Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable: A Trilogy Hardcover – Sep 16 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (Sept. 16 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375400702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375400704
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.6 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 558 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Ness on June 11 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
absolutely brilliant!! This Beckett at his best, these three are from when he was on top of his game. A must read for any serious fan of modern literature
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Format: Hardcover
The quotation reproduced above comes from the inside front flap of the dustcover of the Everyman's Library edition, and while such flaps in Everyman rarely reveal much about the contents of the books they cover, this quotation seems quite appropriate.
People seem to be upset by Beckett's techniques in writing these novels. Some have even alleged that Beckett (gasp!) has attempted to write a novel without any features of a normal novel. This misses the point of modernism and, while some reviewers may prefer the linearity of the traditional novel (while not, of course, being bad at literary criticism), this misconception of linearity must be corrected. Whereas writers like Conrad (even though Conrad never admitted being an Impressionist writer) cast a haze over his prose desciptions to obscure his readers' vision, modernists give us crisp clarities, but provide us with only the minutest of details. Here, we see the influence of abstract art on literature--especially the dynamism of Marcel Duchamp. By this I mean that modernists attempted to show all stages of motion at once, as in Duchamp's famous painting "Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2"--the nude is depicted as a brown blur, and Duchamp shows all stages of the nude's descent. In modernist literature, there are frequent references to earlier events, and there are references to future events. This is evident in _Ulysses_, an epic work of modernism by James Joyce, from whom Beckett himself learned numerous literary techniques.
But also, we see the strong influence Proust had on Beckett. In what has been called, by some critics, the greatest novel written (A la recherche du temps perdu, or Remembrance of Things Past), Proust attempted to write a novel in which the main theme was memory.
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Format: Paperback
It's hard to top Beckett when it comes to sheer density of prose. His trilogy here is considered one of the greatest sets of novels in the 20th century, and it's a rightly deserved reputation. Here Beckett does two neat tricks over the course of the three books, first he gradually strips the story down to its very essence, that being words and sentences and phrases to the point where the story is almost pure thought processes. Second, and this is probably harder, he manages the trick of taking an absolutely bleak view of life and making it absolutely hilarious. Through absurd situations, witty asides and just general black humor there are fewer works of literature that will literally have you laughing out loud while forcing you to confront the possible pointlessness of life. At no point is any of this easy reading, Beckett's prose can be politely described as relentless and the words just keep coming, maintaining an odd, jerky sort of rhythm that manages to pull you along so that the books read much faster than you might expect. And even though it's a trilogy mostly in spirit, there are some definite progressions from book to book. Molloy is the easiest to read and makes the most sense, even if its circuitiousness can be madly frustrating sometimes. And for some reason Beckett pulls an absolutely bizarre switch halfway through that I'm not smart enough to understand. But for the most part it's fairly accessable. Malone Dies is as bleak as the name implies and is probably the funniest in a black humour sort of way. I actually found this one easiest to understand though, but that's probably not the case with everyone.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In these three stories Beckett takes us inside the mind of the genius in a way that no other writer has done. He is a genius who knows that he is, but knows also that only he, if anyone, can know what that means. It cannot be told, or shared, so he is locked away in perpetuity with the only thing he knows, and everything else he does, or says, is by proxy.
The characters in his other stories and plays are about as wretched as it is possible to get, and in The Unnameable, Beckett allows us some insight into his relationship with these obsessions. Beckett looks at what has come out of the mouths of his characters and is as astonished as the reader. He has no idea where it came from, except that it came from him. In the end, he is forced to investigate what 'him' is, and this leads him to confront some of the deepest questions of life. To an ordinary mortal it is almost impossible to believe the level of intellectual activity in Beckett's brain, which can subtend simultaneous parallel streams of words in the way that one imagines Bach and Mozart were consciously able to conceive of polyphonic music of the most fearsome comlexity.
It does not make for easy reading, although there are passages that may be taken alone that are austere and terrifylingly astringent, such as the depiction of the gruesome Moran and his hideous parental role, but for those who see reading as something you can get better at as you go on, then this trilogy is the reading material beyond which few would need to aspire.
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