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The Unnamable

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  904 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The Unnamable consists entirely of a disjointed monologue from the perspective of an unnamed (presumably unnamable) and immobile protagonist. There is no concrete plot or setting - and whether the other characters ("Mahood" (formerly "Basil") and "Worm") actually exist or whether they are facets of the narrator himself is debatable. The protagonist also claims authorship o ...more
Paperback, 186 pages
Published March 1st 1978 by Grove/Atlantic (first published 1953)
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Ulysses by James JoyceFinnegans Wake by James JoyceThe Sound and the Fury by William FaulknerMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleGravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Most Difficult Novels
123rd out of 329 books — 1,544 voters
Waiting for Godot by Samuel BeckettHappy Days by Samuel BeckettEndgame & Act Without Words by Samuel BeckettMolloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel BeckettWatt by Samuel Beckett
Best of Samuel Beckett
16th out of 65 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,607)
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Jose Luis
Jul 30, 2013 Jose Luis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lectores hardcore
Recommended to Jose Luis by: Malas compañías y buenas lecturas
Me imagino que los que lleguen a Goodreads y vean cómo puntuamos los libros con estrellitas se llevarán las manos a la cabeza. No se trata de dar notas en plan “cole”, ni de ponerle un notable raspado a todo un Beckett. La idea es puntuar la experiencia de uno como lector, porque se supone que eso da una idea a lectores “afines” para orientarse en la montaña de libros que tenemos por leer:

Mis cuatro estrellas a El Innombrable se deben a que la lectura de este monumento me ha resultado árida y m
Neil Griffin
This is the oddest and hardest book I've ever read. Yes, more difficult than Pynchon, DFW, and the rest of the gang. It was definitely a slog to get through in parts; it's a short book, but it took me around two weeks to read, which is a very long time for me. So it was weird, hard, time-consuming, as well as indecipherable at times but I'm still glad I finished it (so glad it's over). After a while, you stop trying to make sense of it and just go with the current of this river of words, one aft ...more
Lesley Battler
Awesome: a philosophical novel without the novel. Or maybe it's actually narrative dark matter.

Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes. It neither emits nor absorbs light or any other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Instead, its existence and properties can only be inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation and the large scale structure of the universe.

The Dark Matter Theory seems to be as applicable to The Unnamable as any other critical
K.D. Absolutely
The final book in Beckett's trilogy is the most difficult to read. It felt like a novel that does not have any plot even if you try hard to interpret it so there will be some images that will stay in your mind when you finally close the book. There is just nothing except the ones that the unnamed narrator recalls pertaining to the earlier books, Molloy (4 stars) and Malone Dies (5 stars) or Beckett's other works like Murphy (5 stars), Mercier And Camier (3 stars) and Watt (4 stars). It was just ...more
Brenda Dierckx
I am going to use this book as a punishment for my students when I'm a teacher.
In this final book in Beckett’s trilogy, not even character remains. The movement toward stasis found in Malone Dies is complete: there are only thoughts thinking themselves, ever rambling but never moving. The unnamable narrator tells brief tales of himself sitting, forever immobile and incommunicative, in a chair, other people orbiting as planets about him; he tells of a character living in a jar in front of a restaurant, and the joys of having a tarp placed over one’s jarred head; he tells of ...more
I just can't. I can't. I made it through Molloy and Malone Dies with a combination of miserable frustration and deep delight, but 50 pages into The Unnamable I was...done. (I am deeply suspicious of the almost-five-star rating it's received on Goodreads...surely this is a book that a. almost nobody finishes and b. almost nobody understands? are the highly-rated reviews all from people who think that the incomprehensibility of a book is directly related to how good it is, or am I just a Philistin ...more
What is a review? Is this a review? To view again? But I have only viewed once. Deja vu? To view a second time? Then what is a preview? To view before? To view before viewing? Can one view before ones views? Can one view? Can one be viewed? Am I one? Am I alone? Am I a viewer? Or a reviewer?

Thus goes the Unnamable for 200 pages ... a disembodied voice ... a dying voice ... a dead voice?

It goes on.
To me, the Unnameable was a blessed isolation chamber, where I was forced to confront the endless dis-ease of the mind – the dukkha of Buddhism I suppose. The finely crafted precision of the psychological observations were so beautiful and honest that it was love at first sight. Then the comic whiplash induced by watching sublime pearls of logic and poesy smash -land in scatological punchlines. And over and above that the slower wear and tear on the funny bone -- page after page of relentless lo ...more
Imagine the creative impulse is a black hole from which rises a bewildered narrative voice that tries to make sense only of itself, not of the world. Which tries to become a character, or a body, or a feeling, or a story, and struggles to accept both sides of every coin. Like a picture made only of colours, colours that burst, that flow, that spring from the canvas in no apparent order and coherence – The Unnamable is made only of words, whirlwinding round and round the reader in an endless mono ...more
Alex V.
Reading Beckett's THE UNNAMEABLE felt like going to the eye doctor, when they put you in the lens machine and ask interminably "which is better: 1 or 2...1 or 2" when really neither is appreciably better but you have to choose and the optometrist is getting pissed because there is a waiting room full of patients who can choose and he or she is wasting her valuable training and time on you and all you are getting out of it is the same blurry vision you walked in with coupled with heightened anxie ...more
After the second read it isn't so crazy, really! It's a poem, more than prose, a prayer even, and is best (as the wife tells me), read that way, in small doses, in order to get the beauty of the language.

To me it could be one of the lost books of the Bible, something the Pharasies and/or the popes thought too crazy to include, maybe the Lost Book of Job or Jeremiah, maybe Cain. The character, the Unnamable, armless and legless voice that cries out throughout the one hundred odd pages could easi
this beckett guy is something else - he realizes early on that he can never outjoyce the man himself, and so he decides to like rid novels of everything that makes them novels: you know plot, character, denouement, all that fun stuff they teach you in high school, which is the sort of boring not nessecary part, you think as a 17 yr. old. but then someone decides to take them out completely and you realize - huh, that plot sure did help me get through the book; or, wow knowing where one character ...more
I feel so relieved to have finally finished this, like making it to the peak of a challenging mountain. It's an amazing work of genius, but very difficult and slow going. It's more of a modernist prose poem than it is a traditional novel, and if it's read in that way, taking time to savor each of the dazzling ideas that pack each page, then the task is a little easier, but still not easy. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the other two novels in the Beckett Trilogy, but that doesn't mean that i ...more
Stuart Kenny
The main character in this book is Narrative--not a narrator or a character, but Narrative itself. It is Narrative complaining to an Author it can't see about having to take on whatever shapes or personas the Author places on it. Narrative is the underlying structure upon which stories and characters are built, but Narrative has no fixed story or character and is Unnameable. Narrative wants to be left alone, for the stories to end. But Narrative never ends--it goes on even without an author dire ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989)
عنوان: نام ناپذیر؛ اثر: ساموئل بکت؛ مترجم: سهیل سمی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، ثالث، 1392، در 222 ص، شابک 9789643809089؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسه قرن 20 م؛ این ترجمه از متن انگلیسی به فارسی برگردان شده است

ساموئل بارکلی بکت، نویسنده، شاعر و نمایشنامهنویس ایرلندی، و برنده جایزه نوبل ادبیات، دهها سال، در پاریس به صورت مهاجر زیست، و بسیاری از آثار خود را به زبان فرانسه نگاشت. از ایشان به همراهی «اوژن یونسکو» به عنوان یکی از پایهگذاران و نظریهپردازان تئاتر
Jul 16, 2014 H added it
Shelves: fiction-lateral
THE UNNAMABLE (Faber and Faber 2010, ed. Steven Connor)

But enough of this nonsense. I was never anywhere but here, no one ever got me out of here. (36)

What I speak of, what I speak with, all comes from them. It's all the same to me, but it's no good, there's no end to it. It's of me now I must speak, even if I have to do it with their language, it will be a start, a step towards silence and the end of madness, the madness of having to speak and not being able to, except of things that don't conc
Jim Leckband
Of the Beckett novels I've read so far (Watt, Murphy, Molloy and Malone Dies) this is definitely my favorite. Unfortunately a Beckett novice shouldn't jump into "The Unnamable" without at least "Molloy" and "Malone Dies" under their belt. This guy messes with your head (even if it isn't in an urn).

What is the "Unnamable"? The reader has to be asking that question throughout this long monologue by a disembodied voice. Is it the eternal now? The ego experiencing the eternal now? The author writing
This is more a rating of how well i liked the book than how good a book i think it is, if that makes sense. I really loved Molloy and Malone Dies, despite their difficulty. But with this one, which in many ways is simply a progression in the style and themes of those books, which is brilliant and kind of hilarious in a black way. But i was just unable to move through this -- too much nothing.
Just finished The Unnamable seconds ago. I remember reading Godot in HS, and then later I read Malone Dies and I remember, I'm sure I remember, I must remember being blown away. There are just a handful of books by Kafka, Joyce, Pynchon, Delillo and Beckett that seem to not just BE amazing, but seem built to reach in and rewire the reader's brain. Or at least me, or at least mine.
Jeff Buddle
Reading this book is what I imagine it must be like to swim against the current of a mighty river. In order just to keep your head above water you must strive hard, fighting against the current in what is ultimately a losing battle. Eventually, when you can't go on anymore, your muscles slacken and the river takes you in its arms, sweeping you along with the current, caught in the whitewater. You're not fighting anymore, the river has you, and what was difficult is now easy. What you didn't unde ...more
Aygul A.
the best one in this trilogy, in my opinion.
Logan Young
Il se fait le reste ... alors ... pas avant ... cette fois vous l'avez ... vous l'avez ... il est là ... quelque part ... tu l'as eu ... ne pas le perdre ... histoire ... Woeburn monter sur ... alors ... prochaine chose ... repos ... c'est le droit ... un ... quelque part ... ne ... le perdre ... ne cherchez plus ... le retrouver ... dans le noir ... de le voir ... lui dire ... pour qui ... c'est ça ... peu importe ... jamais ... lui ... jamais juste ... recommencer ... dans le noir ... fini ave ...more
Very poor effort by Mr. Beckett :-P.
The book is essentially a monologue in which the author explores whatever strikes his fancy, be it nothing or everything. There is no plot as such, and the narrative just goes on and on, continuously, without breaks.
I think maybe war has something to do with it. This was written shorlty after the Second World War, and I think that maybe that experience has led the author to think (and consequently, write) in a non-linear, non-formatted, non-standard way and st
I'm so glad I picked the audiobook version of this book. It would have been a very difficult read. As it was, I just went with the flow and let the narrator do the work. I was swept away by the rhythm of the words - not necessarily the words themselves.

I picked it at random, not realizing it was part of a trilogy. I'm backtracking now to read/listen to the other books. I may come back to this one after I've got more of the context.
One-Eyed Pak
Jul 15, 2011 One-Eyed Pak rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody who loves literature
Recommended to One-Eyed Pak by: Julie Kohler
Shelves: favorites
The Unnamable nous entraîne dans un univers étouffant où notre propre langage est remis en question. À travers le langage, c'est bien entendu le monde dans lequel on vit qui est critiqué. Avec le narrateur, on sent les odeurs de cadavre et on entend les hurlements de nos ancêtres derrière tous les mots qu'on utilise. À la fin de ce parcours entre la lumière et les abysses, comme le narrateur, nous découvrirons peut-être une manière de parler de nous en utilisant leur langage pour leur dire que n ...more
Peter Klopfenstein
An interesting experiment, ended up just skimming through mostly. Not sure in what sense it could be considered a good book on its own merits, but it was definitely an interesting experiment.
Carlos Hugo Winckler Godinho
Gostei, com a mesma ressalva do segundo livro. Se eu tivesse parado no anterior da trilogia, acho que eu não teria perdido muito. O livro é cativante, mas muito pesado.
Bobby Williams
If you're not studying literature you may want to skip this-your head could explode, eyeballs flopping from sockets--the whole nine.
This is not my favourite of Beckett's works. Not even Waiting For Godot itself is as obscure as this incredibly abstract piece of writing. One of my favourite things about Samuel Beckett is his ability to create beautiful scenes out of the seemingly weary aspects of day-to-day life and death. Unfortunately, much of The Unnameable is so impossible to follow that it lacks this aspect and ends up colourless. That might have been the intent. My boyfriend has just described this book as "very cerebra ...more
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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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“Unfortunately I am afraid, as always, of going on. For to go on means going from here, means finding me, losing me, vanishing and beginning again, a stranger first, then little by little the same as always, in another place, where I shall say I have always been, of which I shall know nothing, being incapable of seeing, moving, thinking, speaking, but of which little by little, in spite of these handicaps, I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always, the same which seems made for me and does not want me, which I seem to want and do not want, take your choice, which spews me out or swallows me up, I’ll never know, which is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hands, my feet, my back, and ever murmuring my old stories, my old story, as if it were the first time.” 58 likes
“Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of.” 50 likes
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