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First Love and Other Novellas

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,219 ratings  ·  209 reviews
This new collection brings together First Love, The Calmative, The End and The Expelled; these four novellas are among the first major works of Beckett's decision to use French as his language of literary composition. Rich in verbal and situational humour, they offer a fascinating insight into many of the issues which preoccupied Beckett all his working life. As the first ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 106 pages
Published February 24th 2000 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1945)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
‎Premier Amour = First Love, Samuel Beckett

First Love is a short story by Irish novelist, Samuel Beckett, written in 1946 and first published in its original French version in 1970 and, in Beckett's English translation, in 1973.

The narrator tells of his discovery on a park bench (where he loitered after becoming homeless upon the death of his father) by a prostitute who takes him in, and of their strange "union," leading to the birth of a child and the narrator's abandonment of both.

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Parthiban Sekar
Samuel Beckett is often mistaken as Existentialist, like Camus. These stories are few among the other existing proofs that he is not. This is not to argue who or which is better, but to find how he is different: His unnamed principle shows significant signs of desolation, destitution, dilemma, and drama but not completely void of will to survive in this calmative and troubleseome world.

“I didn't understand women at that period. I still don't for that matter. Nor men either. Nor animals either.
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S̶e̶a̶n̶
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, 2016
Personally I have nothing against graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must. The smell of corpses, distinctly perceptible under those of grass and humus mingled, I do not find unpleasant, a trifle on the sweet side perhaps, a trifle heady, but how infinitely preferable to what the living emit, their feet, teeth, armpits, arses, sticky foreskins and frustrated ovules.
('First Love')
Oh, I know I too shall cease and be as when
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Jim
Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who have never read Beckett before
The basic story here is simple enough. Following the death of his father, the only member of his family who seems to have had any feelings for him, a man is evicted from the family home. He ends up moving in with a prostitute whereupon he immediately makes himself comfortable in his own Spartan way, emptying his room of all but a sofa on which he lies facing the wall doing nothing. For some reason the woman puts up with this but, when she falls pregnant, insisting that the child is his, he leave ...more
Ja'net
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I would have enjoyed this more had I been in grad school still, searching for a paper topic. At this point in my life though, I just don't have the patience.

I know--it's Beckett; it's not exactly pleasure reading. But surely, some pleasure should be derived from reading this book, from its beautifully rhythmic language. My experience was quite the contrary; each beautifully rhythmic line erased the one before it, ultimately leaving me with the sense of having read something beautifully
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CD Borden
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samuel Beckett's prose is very similar to Gertrude Stein because of its repetitive and fragmentary manner, but of course, his writing style is strictly his own.

The title story, First Love, tells a simple account of a young man reminiscing about his past relationship with a prostitute, yet Beckett's hypnotic syntax and long sentences (which he utilizes quite effectively throughout the entire collection) give this mundane narrative its mesmerizing power:

But I have always spoken, no doubt always sh
...more
Lee Foust
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Actually I've only--this time through, so far--read the title track of this collection as I'm in the midst of a project to read Beckett's complete oeuvres in chronological order. That's harder than it seems, given the author's switch from composing in English to French, his rag-tag approach to publishing his works (along with some early reluctance among editors to publish his works), and then his non-chronological translation of his French works into English.

So, what I believe to be true is that
...more
Megha Chakraborty
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My first Beckett and it cut right into my soul. This is a thin volume of 100 pages of four novellas written by Samuel Beckett in 1946: The End, The Expelled, The Calmative and First Love.
There is also an introduction at the start and notes at the end. He brings to life a strange world of existentialist torment and aimless wandering with an almost incomprehensible ingenuity.
The writing is surreal where the protagonist seems to be confused about his own existence and is usually hanging in betwee
...more
Sean Blake
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At just over 100 pages, these four short stories showcase probably Samuel Beckett's strongest writing and blackest humour. I nearly spat out my coffee on numerous occasions. ...more
Diptarup Ghosh Dastidar
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
One thing about Beckett's prose is that you need to read slowly and follow the pattern and just try not to get lost somewhere in the middle... The experience is rewarding indeed. One can well judge a book by a few peeps into what you can expect from it. I will just give a few quotations, and then you can judge for yourselves.

"The memory came faint and cold of the story I might have told, a story in the likeness of my life, I mean without the courage to end or the strength to go on." - from The E
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N.J. Ramsden
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I wanted to like Beckett. Or maybe I didn't, I don't know, too many Godots not there, too many black curtains on Channel 4 in the dim 80s, too many underscores under the name in the books, not that I've read them, I just know they're there. There's an essay in the introduction to some Barthelme which posits a patriliterarchy (not a word, unless it now is) dribbling down from Joyce through Beckett to Barthelme, and I have a hard time swallowing that, not that I can't, but it's just so... I like J ...more
Lorissa
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
I think you either love Beckett, or hate him. Many people see him as being rather bleak and absurd, and that’s all. There is a lot more to Beckett than this. His work can be bleak, absurd, hopeless and perplexing, but it can also be invigorating, eye-opening and humourous. These four stories are rich and deeply moving…if even a bit unsettling. It’s a short book, but takes some time to read as you delve into the words and thoughts of Beckett. I found myself re-reading passages to really savour th ...more
Saburi Pandit
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beckett's novellas especially First Love has been one of my many favorite works by him. Beckett never considered his work absurd, and rightfully so. his work is more meaningful for me, for it points towards the absurdity of life and human nature. And the poetic prose in which he writes the most melancholic of feelings, those sentences are my respite. ...more
Stuart Collie
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Scratched a wee itch
hadar
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A volume illustrating the inescapable solitariness of a human existence.
Beckett is undeniably a unique writer. His prose is honest and almost stream-of-consciousness, at times leaning more towards stream-of-unconsciousness, therefore making his words ring that much truer. However--this is the only volume of his work that I have read thus far--his urgency of self is sometimes implausible. All living creatures are, to an extent, inherently social. In these stories, Beckett seems to reject the not
...more
Taylor
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Samuel Beckett upsets me with his abilities. These were originally in French, Beckett’s second language, though I read the versions translated by him. And even in translation, they have a flow and style that feels unique, and very Beckett. Beckett loves the destitute and the men who never quite fit in, and he does them wonderful service in these four tiny stories, each containing much more than that which their page count would attest. These are dense, and they are lovely. However, Beckett does ...more
Jimmy
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was my introduction to Beckett. These four stories were written about the same time as Waiting For Godot, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much.

These four stories contain some of the most eccentric, dark, and humorous protagonists I've encountered in literature. I would highly recommend these stories for anyone looking to become acquainted with Beckett.

One interesting thing about these stories is that they were originally written in French, despite the fact that English is Beckett's firs
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Booklovinglady
I knew Samuel Beckett as the author of Waiting for Godot of course but this was the first time I read any of his short stories. The four stories in Eerste liefde are beautiful! So moving, touching and sad at the same time, and all of them exceptionally well-written.

For a review in Dutch, see Netherlands & Flanders group Summer Challnge 2014, message 39.
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K
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've read this story dozens of times and revisit it frequently. The language at times is supremely beautiful and makes me wish Beckett had not tried for so long to write spare prose. His trademarked very dark humor is present in "First Love" as well. ...more
Charanya
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Rich and deeply moving, it is also one of the most unsettling books I have read in a long time.

"...a canker of the soul, ever hungered for as much as it was loathed..."
(Ashling, Obernewtyn Chronicles, Book 3 by Isobelle Carmody)
...more
Alan
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
was this my first Beckett? I think so, long long ago.
Nora
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I liked the stories, but I think I will only really start to appreciate them once I reread them..
David Markwell
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beckett
Beautiful prose, as in all Beckett, but the humor here is perfect. This is a perfect example of how comedy should be.
Mub
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
my first encounter with beckett - loved every single syllable.
Valentina Salvatierra
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ostensibly a short read at just over 100 pages, this is an utterly bizarre yet engrossing book. All four novellas have first-person narrators that read as senile or perhaps mentally deranged, but maybe we would all sound this way if trying to narrate episodes from our lives. In that sense, these might just be more realistic than novels where a first person narrator somehow recollects every word and gesture that he has witnessed and carried out, and gives coherence to it all so that some unseen r ...more
Lori
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beckett's short stories display his affection for the run-on paragraph. Some paragraphs went on for pages. Overall I enjoyed his short stories more than other work sampled by the author. In the title story, Beckett opens with a cemetery scene--something to which I as a genealogist could relate. Of course, I chided him for not recording all the tombstone information on his first visit, but his purposes in visiting graveyards are different than mine. The story then relates the story of his encount ...more
Jazzy Lemon
Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett wrote these stories in French in the mid 1940s and translated them to English in the 1970s. They are written in a stream of consciousness style, long rambling paragraphs by a person who isn't like other people. Although well-written, and I have nothing against stream of consciousness, they weren't exactly my cup of tea. ...more
Daniel Polansky
Beckett's neurotic, miserable, possibly insane everyman considers his lost love and miserable childhood, plus a couple of wackily incoherent shorts that I likely lacked the literary understanding to appreciate. The eponymous story is excellent, however. ...more
Kat Alex
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I love many of Beckett's plays but this collection of stories was a bit hard to read. Great atmosphere, I was totally taken to the scenes described but the overall darkness was a bit repetitive?
The bit that was very hard to read was the person's distain in First Love towards his wife: he even thought of 'kicking her cunt'. Even if this is written from the perspective of a character I don't have any time for misogynistic content. Very disappointed.
...more
Tori Taylor
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
beautifully filthy
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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
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