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Dream of Fair to Middling Women
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Dream of Fair to Middling Women

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  209 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Samuel Beckett's "high energy and boisterously libidinous"(Booklist) first novel--a wonderfully savory introduction to the NobelPrize-winning author during this centenary year.Written in the summer of 1932, when the 26-year-old Beckett was poor andstruggling, Dream of Fair to middling Women offers a rare and revealingportrait of the artist as a young man. Later on, Beckett ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published October 6th 2006 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1932)
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Chris Hearn
Beckett wrote this at 26 - my age - and initially had it rejected by everyone he sent it to, and later refused to have it published until after he died. This book shows off his intellect, multi-lingual vocabulary, and his ability to manipulate language, but for the most part, it feels like he's just showing off, and hasn't really found his own voice yet - Joyce's influence here is probably too obvious to even mention. Parts are profound, and worth slogging through the whole book to get to, but I ...more
Dec 24, 2012 J. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir, eire

Under The Night Colander

The night firmament is abstract density of music, symphony without end, illumination without end, yet emptier, more sparsely lit, than the most succinct constellations of genius. Now seen merely, a depthless lining of hemisphere, its crazy stippling of stars, it is the passional movement of the mind charted in light and darkness. The tense passional intelligence, when arithmetic abates, tunnels, skymole, surely and blindly (if we only thought so) through the interstellar
“Let it be said now without further ado, they were just pleasantly drunk. That is, we think, being more, becoming and unbecoming less, than usual. Not so far gone as to be rapt in that disgraceful apotheosis of immediacy from which yesterday and to-morrow are banished and the off dawn into the mire of coma taken; and yet at the same time phony and contrapanic-stuck, than usual. Not, needless to say, melting in that shameless ecstasy of disintegration justly quenched in the mire and pain of reass ...more
Cam  Roberts

Reading this particular novel was on the whole an incredibly messy & discombobulated experience, and yet there are some commendable strengths, one example being the foibles of a humorous love-triangle articulated from the point of view of the protagonist, Belacqua. The novel is grossly slipshod in maintaining a fluid narrative progression, at times the novel would slather itself on the extraneous and peripheral (most readers can tell when a young exuberant writer is laying on a little too mu

Artem Huletski

"Мастерское исследование, ребята, от этого не уйдёшь, крупнейшей мясорубки в истории бойскаутов, одиннадцатое одиннадцатого через одиннадцать лет и ни капельки Sehnsucht между картонными крышками этой книги*".

* Вероятно, автор (или Белаква) пишет (или воображает) эти строки 11 ноября 1929 г., т.е. ровно через одиннадцать лет после подписания перемирия, положившего конец Первой мировой войне.

Конгениально, количество непонятных слов и неологизмов автора (или Белаквы?) на страницу зашкаливает. Д
Hannah Gold
This book was largely incomprehensible. At times the language became quite beautiful, but I never knew how it related to the larger text or really how any single sentence had much to do with another. Also the book has a tendency to slip into French which definitely slows thing down and there are several German and Latin phrases in there as well which are never explained. But none of this really matters at all because the English is so damn abstruse. Can I tell you what this story is precisely ab ...more
Jeremiah Carlson
As a young writer, who sees a world of creativity, experimentalism and uncertainty all around him I affirm that this book is the essence of what I feel right now. Beckett wasn't one who sure where to put his thoughts but made his effort (a grand one at that) to make collect all of it into this novel. This novel therefore is madness, which is not for everyone. But it is a genius type madness of language, color, humor and music. I actually rate this a 4.5 but I round it off to 5. The introductions ...more
This is one of the most musical books I've ever read, right up there with Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" and William Gass' "The Tunnel." It's a hell of a lot of fun to read out loud. Beckett's youth obviously shows in this book since it was his first novel, but the turmoil of language on display makes a great case for his vital and huge sense of humor, which for some reason often goes unrecognized in any discussion of him. You can see him struggling to write both around and exactly what he thin ...more
Matt Morris
Read my review of this & other books at
May 17, 2012 Gail added it
Then it goes. The wretched reader takes off his coat and squares up to the book, squares up to his poetry like a cocky little hop-me-thumb, hisses up his mind and pecks and picks wherever he smells a chink. And the old corduroy mode, when you switched on and put in the plug and dropped everything, let yourself go to the book, and it do the work and dephlogisticate you like a current of just the right frequency, once gone is gone for ever.

Fair to middling sounds about right. On the one hand, it's Beckett, so it's obviously got some amazing sentences and intermittent bleak hilarity. But on the other hand, I'm not sure if I'll finish it. The best bits were subsequently scavenged for More Pricks Than Kicks, and the rest of it is clearly the work of a young writer still finding his voice and way too enamored with James Joyce for his own good.
To his credit, Beckett didn't want this pastiche of allusive Joyce-esque writings published. I don't imagine that it would repay the effort required. Skipping this one and sticking with the biographer's summary.
Early Beckett, very Joycean, often funny, sometimes maddening; linguistic high spirits triumph over compulsive wordplay.
Steve Shilstone
Young Sam trying out stuff in the immense shadow of James Joyce. Shows the promise later fulfilled.
A bit wild and wordy for Beckett and highly indebted to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Kind of Joyce-y. In any case, Sammy was way smarter than...well... pretty much anyone.
comical Beckett that proves he was a genius from a green young age
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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...
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