Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unnamable” as Want to Read:
The Unnamable
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unnamable (The Trilogy #3)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  1,256 Ratings  ·  113 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unnamable, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unnamable

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
402 books — 1,739 voters
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsThe Combinations by Louis ArmandDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Cult fiction
221 books — 164 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

There I was, happily standing on one leg. The right one. The one on my right, I mean, since it could have been the one on my left and that would have also been right. Nothing wrong with the left. Perfectly right the left, I think. I could feel my quadriceps, of the right leg, fully engaged and my kneecap pulled up tight. That is according to what I remember, of course, because it could have been different. My leg was as continuous as a column on which my body rightly hung. There was a bit of a m
The Unnamable

Samuel Beckett

A masterpiece from Samuel Beckett, though may be a bit awkward to read,could be indecipherable at times but after a while you move with the flow and get consumed by it; it would be felt like a novel that does not have any plot, only some disjointed images which would stay in your mind. The book is not a prose actually rather it can be said as a long dazzling poem on the very human existence. The Unnameable, where the dilemmas, which were brought up by the author in Mol
Renato Magalhães Rocha
I just finished, and I think it's brilliant. I can't exactly say why or demonstrate it, it seems. I can't remember much of what I just read either. It's like it only exists while being read... (?)
Sidharth Vardhan
Suppose I put you in a washing machine and set the spinner on for hours- the dizziness you will feel is what I felt while reading the book. This dizziness will makes one question, vaguely that is, the nature of reality, identity and social contact. The unnamed and highly unreliable narrator, who also claims the authorship of previous two works of trilogy and of Murphy too,is thinking about something, or nothing, or something that turned out to be nothing, or something that was always nothing; pe ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reread
The blue face! The obscene protrusion of the tongue! The tumefaction of the penis! The penis, well now, that's a surprise, I'd forgotten I had one. What a pity I have no arms, there might still be something to be wrung from it. No, 'tis better thus. At my age, to start manstuprating again, it would be indecent. And fruitless. And yet one can never tell. With a yo heave yo, concentrating with all my might on a horse's rump, at the moment when the tail raises, who knows, I might not go altogether ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Sahar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"بیرون برای آنکه روز و شب را تا حد ممکن در جایی دور سپری کنم، دور نبود".
نام ناپذیر پخش پایانی سه گانه ای ست که پس از مالوی و مالون می میرد، نگارش یافته است. در خصوص محتوای این کتاب شاید توصیفش همانگونه که از نامش برمی آید سخت و دشوار باشد چرا که با فضایی کاملا درهم ریخته و متفاوت روبه رو هستیم و جهانی را تجربه میکنیم که با بیانی خاص و غیر معمول توصیف شده است که هرکس برای کشف محتوای آن باید خودش شخصا کتاب را زندگی و تجربه کند. به هر صورت اگرچه شاید برای بعضی خواندن کتاب دشوار به نظر برسد و حتی گا
Aug 05, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, irish
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.
Neil Griffin
Jan 23, 2012 Neil Griffin rated it really liked it
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
Imagine the creative impulse is a black hole from which rises a bewildered narrative voice, which 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 mo ...more
Lesley Battler
Feb 15, 2013 Lesley Battler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keeper
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Unnamable (The Trilogy #3), 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 ن
Nov 02, 2011 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
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.
Brenda Dierckx
Nov 02, 2014 Brenda Dierckx rated it it was ok
I am going to use this book as a punishment for my students when I'm a teacher.
Lee Foust
Sep 22, 2016 Lee Foust rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Unnamable is about freedom. It's pretty easily the freest text Samuel Beckett ever wrote. All of the novels preceding it were infected with literature, Joyce, traditions of Irish humor, etc, to some extent, even as they strained--quite successfully at times--to break free of these fetters. Writing in French was an important step, freeing the authorial voice from much of its learned shackles of English literary style, enabling the voice to more freely and simply say what the voice wanted to s ...more
Oct 10, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Supongo que para hacer una reseña de este libro debería empezar por el principio.
Mi "aventura" con Beckett comenzó en agosto, lo que ahora me parece tan lejano, extraño y ajeno... Estaba una buena tarde fisgoneando entre los libros de mi padre cuando di con Detritus y decidí leer un página cualquiera. Supongo que allí empezó todo.
Después de aquello di con algo que me hizo saber, desde el preciso instante en que lo leí, que de todos los libros de Beckett el que más habría de gustarme sería este y
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
Apr 15, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2010 Adam rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 05, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 15, 2015 Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This little tome, this great concentric spiral, as if that was not tautological, was the most challenging book I have ever read and I can’t decide if I hated it or loved it but I feel if either I feel I loved it more than hated it especially towards the end although the beginning too I loved more than hated but perhaps loved less than I loved the end of it or hated it less than hated the end of it, though I didn’t hate it so much as bristled against it and scratched my head in confusion, in some ...more
Alex V.
Apr 29, 2011 Alex V. rated it liked it
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
I'm done. I'm exhausted. I'm all Becketted out. Somehow, The Unnamable is even more abstract and frenetic and and disjointed than its predecessors in the trilogy. Impossibly, it has even less of a coherent thread to hold it together. Beckett's talent is undeniable, but after nearly 500 pages of aimless, unstructured meandering, the limits of my patience and sanity have truly been tested. I almost gave up. I wasn't sure whether I would make it. I enjoyed reading The Unnamable only intermittently. ...more
Stuart Kenny
Sep 05, 2011 Stuart Kenny rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2017 Leonard rated it it was amazing
In The Unnamable, the narrator asks " What am I to do, what shall I do, what should I do, in my situation, how proceed?" As if only a nameless person, perhaps a nonexistent person, can seek to act and to live. The narrator claims to have created Molloy, Malone and other characters in Samuel Beckett's novels, and like them, he also struggles to communicate reality and follows the same path toward non-existence.
Aug 05, 2013 Jesse rated it liked it
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
Cristina Chițu
May 23, 2015 Cristina Chițu rated it it was amazing

They're going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They're going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn't last, that still lasts? It will be I?

You must go on.

I can't go on.

You must go on.

I'll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any - until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it's done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they hav
Τζαζίλας Μπάμπης
Το τρίτο βιβλίο της τριλογίας του νομπελίστα Μπέκετ, "Ο Ακατονόμαστος", δεν είναι ένα απλό βιβλίο. Είναι ένα έργο μεγαλειώδες και ιδιοφυές. Διαβάζοντάς το, ζεις μια μοναδική αισθητική εμπειρία, ο χρόνος σταματάει και παράλληλα τρέχει, οι λέξεις, οι σκέψεις και τα νοήματα διαδέχονται χωρίς ανάπαυλα το ένα το άλλο, ακολουθούν κυκλική πορεία, ξαναέρχονται, αλληλοσυγκρούονται, χάνονται, αυτοαναιρούνται, ξαναεμφανίζονται, κι απ' τα θραύσματα όλων αυτών διαμορφώνεται τελικά ένα τοπίο παράλογο και ταυτ ...more
Jun 29, 2010 John rated it it was amazing
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
Jeff Buddle
Jul 27, 2014 Jeff Buddle rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A World of Love
  • Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett
  • The Newton Letter  (Revolutions Trilogy, #3)
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Viper's Tangle
  • The Safety Net
  • The Flanders Road
  • August Is A Wicked Month
  • Dusklands
  • The Erasers
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations
  • Voices in the Evening
  • Thaïs
  • The Real Charlotte
  • The Trusting and the Maimed
  • The Man Without Qualities: Vol. 2
  • La Modification
  • The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life
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...

Other Books in the Series

The Trilogy (3 books)
  • Molloy
  • Malone Dies

Share This Book

“You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.” 126 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.” 84 likes
More quotes…