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Worstward Ho

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  230 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Beckett's second last prose text, Worstward Ho, is a novella written in 1983, shortly after the largely autobiographical Company and an ironic theological speculation, both previously published as the first two parts of a late trilogy of short novels. The concentration of language and precision of description in the current work is revolutionary, even for Beckett, the grea ...more
Hardcover, 47 pages
Published April 1st 1983 by Not Avail (first published 1983)
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The Color of Magic by Terry PratchettWinter's Tale by Mark HelprinChristine by Stephen KingPet Sematary by Stephen KingTea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy
Best Books of 1983
48th out of 98 books — 64 voters
The Stranger by Albert CamusOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayLord of the Flies by William Golding
Nobel Laureates
298th out of 397 books — 305 voters

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I cheated, reading this,
I found a version online, which included Colin Greenlaw's elaborations, see
I printed it out, and read each section aloud, tried to make sense of it my own way, then read the elaboration to clarify it, and by the end of page two in my printout I was able to skip the elaborations because I'd got the hang of it.

Firstly, I don’t think it’s ‘about’ anything. It’s Beckett, in his unique Beckettian way, playing with the idea of reducing wr
Jamie Grefe
Recommended to me by a "goodreader," and although I read it once last week, this second time through was worth the effort. I read it in transit from home to work accompanied by John Duncan's masterful shortwave recording, "Phantom Broadcast." This "story" is a work of art that seems to demand the reading voice to be heard either spoken or clearly within oneself (speaking to oneself and actively listening while reading). Those moments where it felt like I was being read to (probably thanks to Dun ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Liam rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dr Zeuss fans
Recommended to Liam by: the quotes section of some erudite fucker on facebook
Worstward Ho is a strange, monosyllabic and disorientating prose poem with a very musical sense of rhythm. In the following excerpt s/he attempts to imagine, from the bones outwards, a character, but becomes sidetracked with self-effacement:

First one. First try fail better one. Something there badly wrong. Not that as it is[,] it is not bad. The no face[:] bad. The no hands[:] bad. The no-. Enough. A pox on bad. Mere bad. Way for worse. Pending worse still. (page 21)

As seen here, the narrator is
Worstward Ho was my first Beckett. I was utterly fascinated by this book even though it doesn't have an actual plot. To me is also doesn't seem like prose but more like a poem.
Beckett uses very short sentences, repeats lots of words and lines and also creates many neologisms which are often contradictory in themselves (e.g. the bestworst). If I had more time I'd like to do a thorough analysis of the book.
Even though there is no real plot I understood what Beckett wants to tell the reader which
Kevin Cole
When someone says they like Beckett, is it really so strange to think them strange? Beckett is for very few. Even I wouldn't voluntarily read him today. But in my strange and dark youth, I was infatuated for a time. He has a unique ability to do what he does that no-one else can do: He can write about disappearing. Why? Because he can. And somehow, he makes it work. That being said, 99.999% of the rest of us have lives to live.
j. ergo
Dec 14, 2014 j. ergo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: weirdos
some pretentious, but fun, bull shit feat. beckett, morris & rumsfeld

plz nobody fail better; at least not on these scale levels
I think I'd love to hear this live or get an audio version I could listen to if I ever decided to get high. I am glad I read this before reading Beckett's trilogy, because the key words in here (void, dim, and probably more) can be found in his earlier works. Though this is all but totally incoherent to anyone that is not intimately familiar with Beckett's psyche, there are elements of rhythm and beauty that make it enjoyable. This would be perfect to read to a senile grandma or a friend in a co ...more
My first Beckett. Never read any reviews or description of the book before I dove in. At times I was caught up with the rhythm and wordplay, other times the words fell flat and seemed pointless. Felt like watching water swirling down the drain or watching a leaf tumbling in the breeze. Will give this one a re-read and speak the words out loud to hear the rhythm of the words. Maybe then I'll get it...maybe not.
Esteban Brena
This was great. Packed with action & romance & I identified w/ the main character of the novel. Hope there's a sequel.
That was a joke.

This is full of short outbursts of highly poetical language & so on. There's a rhythm underneath, like a current dragging you along, that is almost mesmerizing. It reminds me of his play "Breath": first darkness -the void-, then someone, something springs briefly to life, and darkness again. Very artificial and at the same time overtly vital in its c
Maartje (Tizzalicious) Witteveen
This really wasn't for me. I probably just didn't get it, but it felt like I was reading something that had the google translate treatment.
I read this during the tail end of a migraine. It made sense to me. I don't know if it makes sense to everyone. I think it was easier to understand than Naked Lunch. It has a great rhythmic quality. It is not very long. I recommend it if you like Beckett.

The last time I was in a void was when I was walking in a thick fog in the Pacific Ocean. I was walking for a long time and I couldn't even tell whether I was walking towards the shore or the ocean. Every once in a while I would see someone, li
nothing mesmerizing tbh and hard to comprehend, maybe because it was so little.
This story was so stark and sad, both in the limited use of words and also in the images portrayed. At first I really didn’t get it or enjoy it, but then I realized that power of the images that Beckett was portraying in those short choppy sentences, and I appreciated it a little better. Within the simplicity was an amazing amount of strength.

That being said, I’m glad it was as short as it was. There is no way I could read a “normal” sized book written like that.

“Germ of all. All? If of all of
Niall Brehon
Not a typical fiction, more an experiment - an exercise in striving to say as little as possible. Colin Greenlaw's "translation" - for that is what it is - is extremely helpful. Outstandingly intricate and requiring an immense concentration belying its shortness, sometimes it hits a beautiful note as it strains narrative, (patience!), imagination, language and the senses. Became a struggle to finish around the two-thirds mark but ultimately worth it. Somehow on. Anyhow on.
Adriano Nast
Read this a long time ago but left an indelible impression on my young brain.
Beckett is now up with Joyce and Shakespeare as my favourite wordsmith. Yes, I'm familiar with his other work, in fact I've read most of his plays, and am highly impressed not only by the new places that he takes dramaturgy but by his beautiful concise way with words, but the beauty of this prose-poem is unequalled.

(I'll give myself a few more days and a couple more reads before I try to come up with a coherent review though...)
I don't think I really understood this. I might have to read it again some day.
Jan 31, 2011 Josie added it
How does one assign a star rating to this? One doesn't. I read it yesterday and probably I will read it again today. I think it is a fragile thing that would be ruined by exegesis.

But after reading Lydia Davis reading it I had an almost physical longing to read words like this, words with no sense and just sound. ("A boner," says Sean.) Was it satisfying...sort of. But also not, hence the reading it again.
Whoa! Short but incredibly dense. You should plan on reading this slowly, deliberately, in a quiet setting, and more than once. Reading it aloud will help. This is the reader's equivalent of a tongue-twister. Although it generally rewards the effort, it also demands the effort. Not for the faint of heart!
Read. First read. Unfinished.
Read. Not first read. Ununfinished. Tried again. Failed again better.
Sam Orndorff
Commanding language, bizarre and beautiful imagery. Swirling foundations, ethereal resonance. Perfect Beckett.
Natalia Karsonova
Natalia Karsonova marked it as to-read
Mar 01, 2015
Michael Grogan
Michael Grogan marked it as to-read
Feb 28, 2015
Nini marked it as to-read
Feb 27, 2015
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Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

Beckett is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Strongly influenced
More about Samuel Beckett...
Waiting for Godot Endgame Endgame & Act Without Words Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable Krapp's Last Tape & Embers

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“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” 1140 likes
“No choice but stand. Somehow up and stand. Somehow stand. That or groan. The groan so long on its way. No. No groan. Simply pain. Simply up. A time when try how. Try see. Try say. How first it lay. Then somehow knelt. Bit by bit. Then on from there. Bit by bit. Till up at last.” 6 likes
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