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Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable

(The Trilogy #1-3)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,251 ratings  ·  371 reviews
The first novel of Samuel Beckett's mordant and exhilirating midcentury trilogy intoduces us to Molloy, who has been mysteriously incarcerated, and who subsequently escapes to go discover the whereabouts of his mother. In the latter part of this curious masterwork, a certain Jacques Moran is deputized by anonymous authorities to search for the aforementioned Molloy. In the ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 16th 1997 by Everyman's Library (first published 1958)
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Rakhi Dalal
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those interested in Absurdism

Reading Beckett is not easy, since on the surface he seems to be talking of that which is rationally non existent, which doesn’t exist anywhere but perhaps in the subconscious of a mind; a mind which is set on the path of self exploration. An exploration, which is not merely to find a place, a balance with the world but rather to understand why is it that nothing makes sense or rather why “nothing” makes “perfect sense”. Can one live with this perception of nothingness and senselessness while st
MJ Nicholls
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A venomous spate of reviewer’s block has rendered me incapable of forming opinions on all novels over the last few months. So I will keep this simple. I am now a Beckett convert. The prose! The prose! Samuel, O Samuel. It has taken me some time to backslide into the charms of hardcore modernism (so accustomed to pomo as I was), but this threesome of existential novels that interrogate the thing of narrative itself (and thing of life itself) has opened me up to the power of that movement (perchan ...more
David M
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I once recommended Molloy to a boyfriend by saying it was one of the funniest books I'd ever read. I gave him my copy of the trilogy, and he made it about thirty pages.

-I really don't see what's supposed to be funny, he said.
-Well, I actually underlined the lines that made me laugh, I said
-Is that what that is? I had no idea...

My ex was an intelligent person; he had a vast knowledge of art history and fairly broad taste in books, but I fear he was hopelessly in love with beauty, health, youth.
Marc Kozak
Getting through this loosely-related trilogy of short novels was one of the hardest reading experiences I've ever had, and I'm not exactly sure if I enjoyed it, or even knew what Beckett was getting at half the time.

My interest level throughout was all over the place, as the below graphic demonstrates:

Reading this was similar to reading Proust -- I had to be absolutely ON while reading, or I'd lose the train of thought, and have to re-read paragraphs. And when there are literally 80+ page segme
Cymru Roberts
Well slap me and call me Susan. Or was it Sarah? Edgar? I don’t know. No matter.

I could simply leave this as my review and summary of Beckett’s trilogy of nothingness, but in the spirit of Beckett himself, “I’ll go on.” Wow. Just…. yeah, wow. I’ve never read anything like this. Parts of The Unnamable at the end drift into what I call “literature of the black speech,” which like Leautreamont and Kafka, end up like being some evil incantation in which reading is reciting; there’s no meaning becaus
Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: certain people, in particular moods
Beckett definitely gets 5 stars from me, but he's not for everyone. Nor is he for every mood - this book sat on my shelf for years before I found myself in the right place to give it a read. But once I began Molloy and realized I was feeling it, it shot to the top of my "most brilliant and personally influential reads" list. I actually cried when I was reading it because I thought it was so great, and I think about it pretty much every day. Yes, i am a huge dork. I don't think I'm as cynical or ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Molloy (read August 2018) (3-star)
(view spoiler)
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mind-bending, breathless prose unlike anything else. Beckett's fascinating, disturbing, exhausting and droll depiction of consciousness—stripped of all outside contact and reference points by the time we stumble, benumbed, into The Unnamable—will definitely not appeal to everyone, but I found it hypnotic; even the third book, which friends (fans of the first two) had said was unreadable, drew me in with its relentless hyper-babble and I can't go on, I'll go on iterations.

There's plenty of loopin
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel, collection, english
I read all the three novels and I have a copy of this book. So, I might as well add it as a read book and add a point in my Goodreads' 2014 Reading Challenge.

I liked all the three novels. Reading Beckett is totally like a different experience. I have been reading a lot and a couple of weeks back my eyes would just cry for not reason at all. The doctor and my wife both said that I am abusing my eyes by working (I am a workaholic) and reading (I am a bookaholic). So my eyes are oftentimes dry and
Stephen P
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is bigger than me. I still plan on devoting a week to going back over it and give it my best shot at doing it some justice. A seance invoking the spirit of Beckett is not out of the question.
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: infinite-books
Crazy. There's really nothing else like this. Just read the first section of Molloy in one uninterrupted sitting if it is possible. ...more
Sep 03, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
On Molloy

Wow, what happened to the past two weeks? The last thing I remember it was two Sundays ago and I was thinking to myself, "Huh, the next few days will be pretty bus—" and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a ditch by the metaphorical tracks while a bullet train composed of book signings, broken computers, early-morning and late-evening meetings, social calls and looming deadlines, raced past my throbbing head. In the far distance, receding all the time, I could just make out the ti
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a long train trip from Chicago to Salt Lake City and back several years ago. It was an excruciating read, difficult, a real grind. When I finished, I felt that I had read a masterpiece of literature (I had!), but the experience was so painful that I only gave it four stars. Now, after I skim it again, the images and experience comes back in a flood, but with only a modicum of the pain. It's an incredible, exhilirating feeling, tinged with a very slight pinch. What an incredible pi ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. If you have read Waiting for Godot, Beckett’s famous play, you will recognize his style of writing in these three novels.

Beckett was the most famous of the existential playwrights/writers that comprised the Theatre of the Absurd genre. In all of these novels, we are immersed in existentialism. His writing is more minimalist compared to Joyce, who he was often compared to. Beckett once commented that instead of adding to the descriptions he removed words so he could take a different pa
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-literature
Beckett writes from the edge. The voices (and they seem more like voices then characters) that narrate these books are those of wretches occupying some dying twilight world of their own dwindling consciousness, faced with their own immanent dissolution. They are literally just on this side of aphasia and death. The prose in each of these is singular. You could recognize one of Beckett's sentences in a heartbeat. There is, to my knowledge, just no one else who writes like this, or who would want ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“When a man in a forest thinks he is going forward in a straight line, in reality he is going in a circle, I did my best to go in a circle, hoping to go in a straight line.”
A life of an individual is an incessant running on the spot – wherever one goes there’s no destination.
The greatest trilogy by by Samuel Beckett - the wisdom is hidden under the mask of feeblemindedness and senility.
Sentimental Surrealist
Language is a real son of a bitch. On the one hand, it's an essential part of human communication, the most common way we use to get our emotions and experiences across. Yes, there's much to be said for a visual approach, but even paintings and sculptures can be boiled down to words: in fact, there are plenty among us who dislike pieces of visual art because they don't appear to convey anything that can't also be conveyed by words. In fact, language (along, of course, with technology, but some c ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
"Nothing is more real than nothing."

These novels are different from Beckett's shorts, which I personally liked more. There is no old-style plot in any of them. Somehow, this is exactly what gave Beckett recognition. What we get here is accounts of long interior monologues of three highly miserable and unreliable characters. Also the narrator in all three is physically challenged due to different reasons (injury, old age and deformity) and also probably mentally challenged.

There are hardly any
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Each of these novels deserves its own review but there are two highly-distracting birds flying back and forth around the Columbus airport right now, and anyway the plain fact is that Beckett's human or post-human or pre-human comedy wants to be read as a single, prolonged descent. Except that the terminal station was reached with Watt, a book that pushes its audience's tolerance far further than these three. So why the pullback? Why return to Purgatory, as if Beatrice and the flower-drain of cir ...more
This book was read in my monthly Joyce book group. The consensus was that we preferred his plays many times more than his novels. We also commented on Beckett's desire to avoid all comparison to Joyce (some accounts state Beckett never read Ulysses) and for that reason, he wrote in French. One member noted that the writer John Banville owes a debt to Beckett as many of his sentences would fit comfortably into something by Beckett. I can't say after reading Beckett if I agree as I admire Banville ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mad geniuses with lower back trauma
Recommended to Phillip by: some prick
(actually, i'm not reading it, but re-reading it) This trilogy is really the heart of Beckett's writing. Nearly everything he ever wrote is coded in these three novels. You can see the seeds of all the plays and the short prose in here - but in this case, it's expressed in a longer narrative, where he takes his time playing and cloying with the ideas of narrative, tearing those ideas apart as he goes along. I think this is his greatest achievement, and I'm a huge fan of the plays and the other w ...more
from???: well. i read it. long 2 flights, airport time between, only made it seem longer. i wanted to like it, blurbs on the copy sounded promising, i have enjoyed his plays, i was ready to do without the usual furnishings of fiction, you know, plot, character, place. i like those sort of weird books. maybe i am just not ready to find the humor said to be embedded in the long, long, long, pointlessness of these books. one laugh, after he discards the chewing stones… this is not enough to enjoy i ...more
Ce Ce
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is your brain on drugs...

This is my brain on Beckett...

Plate from “Essai d’Anatomie” produced by Gautier D’Agoty in 1745, Paris

Upon reading the last pages, sentences, words...this is Beckett.

"Lifeblood" by Diana Debord, photography

Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Like getting drunk on words in a vacuum.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics_novels
These go swiftly downhill. Molloy is by far the best, and I would actually recommend it. It's consistently funny and entertainingly weird. Malone Dies becomes tedious, but still has some wit about it. The Unnamable (I recognize this is by now a very old pun) is nigh unreadable. It drones on, repeating the same thoughts in pretty much the same words, for so long that you start to consider dropping whatever class you're reading it for (if it's not for class, you don't get that far in before you st ...more
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I read this alongside an audio version, which greatly enhanced many aspects of the work.

“The fact would seem to be, if in my situation one may speak of facts, not only that I shall have to speak of things of which I cannot speak, but also, which is even more interesting, but also that I, which is if possible even more interesting, that I shall have to, I forget, no matter. And at the same time I am obliged to speak. I shall never be silent. Never” (Unnamable, 331-332)

Life, movement, and inquiry
Rick Slane
Stream of consciousness series with less plot and more depression toward its conclusion. I wanted to read this because as a younger man I really liked Waiting for Godot. ...more
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-fiction, prose
Samuel Beckett's writing hints at a growing storm cloud, at a force that builds up underneath the surface. What starts out as word play quickly erupts into an assault on language. And like a storm cloud, his writing carries with it an ominous quality. What Beckett does so well is present a nightmare vision of what it means to be alive, with all the mundane consequences that accompany it. His characters exude strong pathos that allows us to sense the nightmare they are borne into. This, and not a ...more
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In his trilogy, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett explores the frailty of existence.

Samuel Beckett

In the first novel, the unreliable narrator recounts his decline but through the monologue, the reader learns not so much his past as declining state of mind. From his phrases and sentences, we realize how far he has departed from reality and how little we can trust his words. And even Molloy couldn't trust his recollection of events and his perception of world. In the second part
Alex Obrigewitsch
Beckett works absolutely outside literature, which means to say at the very heart of literature.
The trilogy breaks apart the narrative voice, in order to attempt to extract from the shards the empty murmuring at the heart of language; the mobile, decentering center of literature.
Through each of the three works that make up this work, the narrative works itself out, slowly being disjointed and displaced, until the final volume, The Unnamable, where even the narrative voice seeks to displace its
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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

Other books in the series

The Trilogy (3 books)
  • Molloy
  • Malone Dies
  • The Unnamable

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