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More Pricks Than Kicks

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  832 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Becketts erster, aus zehn Erzählungen bestehender und 1934 veröffentlichter Prosaband, enthält in nuce bereits die Welt von Murphy, Watt, Molloy und späteren Beckett-Helden. Der Protagonist dieses »Romans in Erzählungen«, Belacqua, ist Student in Dublin. Sein Name verweist auf eine Figur in Dantes Purgatorio, die dort, im Fegefeuer, für ihr Faulenzerleben zu büßen hat. Die ...more
Paperback, 191 pages
Published December 1st 1972 by Grove/Atlantic (first published 1934)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  832 ratings  ·  71 reviews


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MJ Nicholls
The beginnings of Beckett: arcane, outré, plump with rococo vocab and spiky turns of phrase, incomprehensible, comprehensible in places, incomprehensible again, prone to the polylingual pun, liable to the phrase “little bump of amativeness”, self-referential and self-laudatory (“thank you Mr Beckett”), frustrating as hell, funny on occasion, abounding in references to Dante, liable to the phrase “nuptial hawser”, freewheelingly absurdist, bursting with the sort of smart-alec snottery that trigge ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
Sharp and Witty, but the plot seems to be buried under a barrage of complicated phrasing and snappy 5-syllable words.
Greg
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel (Beckett's first) is composed of a series of stories that tell the story of the adult life of Belacqua Shuah, a sort of schmuck version of Stephen Dedalus. The book is fairly funny, sometimes the humor had to be explained to me though by the OED, it's also dark and absurd. You know, sort of what you would expect from Beckett.

This 170 page book took me about a month to read, mostly because I insisted on reading it next to my computer so that I could look up words in the OED and becaus
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“‘Have sense’ she said sharply, ‘lobsters are always boiled alive. They must be.’ She caught up the lobster and laid it on its back. It trembled. ‘They feel nothing’ she said.
In the depths of the sea it had crept into the cruel pot. For hours, in the midst of its enemies, it had breathed secretly. It had survived the Frenchwoman's cat and his witless clutch. Now it was going alive into scalding water. It had to. Take into the air my quiet breath.
‘You make a fuss’ she said angrily ‘and upset me a
...more
Cody
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-is-for-beckett
Here we have Sam's official bow, and it shows. Bits are fantastic, others far too wooly for no sake I can detect. If this sounds familiar that's because it is also an apt description for 99% of debut works by any author. Rare is the author that emerges who doesn't try to jam too many great ideas in for fear that they may never get another chance. But, hey, it's Sammy B! It's not like you can get away without reading every word. Guy's like fucking crack, I swear... ...more
Edward
It's no surprise that Beckett got on so well with Joyce. Both share certain similarities of style and tone, as well as a selfish lack of concern for the reader. It takes concentration to extract the plot from the quagmire of wordplay. Sometimes the action is clear, and other times - well, you either follow the author's strange line of thought, or you are lost (a dictionary won't help). But this is Beckett, so it's not supposed to be easy, or make complete sense.

The prose is playful, masterful, e
...more
Sean Blake
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More Pricks Than Kicks is probably my favourite work of Samuel Beckett's early period, about the bizarre adventures of student Belacqua and his solipsistic existence in Dublin. Beckett's early writing was obviously very much influenced by fellow Irishman James Joyce and the complex wordplay and sometimes incomprehensible jargon is on full display at times, although to me it felt mainly limited to two of the longest chapters/short stories ('Wet Night' and 'What a Misfortune'). The other shorter s ...more
Sonia
Aug 30, 2007 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was 19 and had a very intense crush on a Beckett-loving Latin professor who is now a psychiatrist. Looking at it again I have no idea how I understood anything.
Alan
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
People often find Beckett grim and he is, but he's also dead funny. This early work is hilarious. (And grim).
From my 1982 notebook:
Belacqua's jolly japes in Beckett's superb prose - corns complicated his night. Every sentence wound up like clockwork, ready to delight. eg It was the old story of the salad days, torment in the terms and in the intervals a measure of ease.
Balanced prose, the words a mathemetics of image and sound and meaning. (I was young, well 27).
...more
Kathy
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable collection of short stories, but I think my favorite was the first out of the box, Dante and the Lobster. With a title like that, what's not to like? It was a very funny description of the preparation of lunch after reading Divine Comedy and then locking the door to ensure there would be no interruptions ..."Toast must not on any account be done too rapidly...If there was one thing he abominated more than another it was to feel his teeth meet in a bathos of pith and dou ...more
Mat
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most Joycean and hence difficult of Beckett's books.
Here you can see just how much Beckett admired Joyce through his use of esoteric vocabulary and the similar Irish humor.

This is almost like a scattered portrait-novel, featuring 9 chapters on the main character, Belacqua, who is an even larger walking disaster than Bloom in Ulysses.

Belacqua is an unfortunate type who clearly has some undiagnosed psychological condition but his person is portrayed as such a wretched and pathetic character, t
...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I'd read alotof Beckett before I got around to this one. I think Beckett's a great writer but he's too grim for me. I'm already grim enuf.. & too morbid. SO, when I read this & found it to be very well written (no surprise) but also from an earlier phase in his work where people are more than just blind worms crawling pointlessly thru the mud (nice surprise) I was relieved. Anyway, just when I was probably not expecting much from Beckett anymore he reminded me that he really IS a great writer & ...more
Jim
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
as with everything Beckett writes, these stories are intriguing, as much for their content as for their autobiographical elements... it is interesting to see the first fiction attempts of Beckett, and one wonders why his writings often took so long to get published... less of the short sentences and wordplay and repetitiousness of his later work, but enjoyable all the same... plenty of references abound, not the least being the titular character's name being borrowed from Dante, and several refe ...more
Domhnall
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Belacqua is the character around whom Beckett has built this collection of short stories and by the end he has been firmly established as a credible human figure, with a curmudgeonly personality and foibles that are all his own. ".. he was an indolent bourgeois poltroon, very talented up to a point, but not fitted for private life in the best and brightest sense, in the sense to which he referred when he bragged how he furnished his mind and lived there, because it was the last ditch when all wa ...more
Sean Masterson
A somewhat uneven but interesting read. Beckett was heavily influenced by Joyce and the elder writer's fingerprints are all over these stories.

For the most part each story can be read on its own, taken together they tell the life story of Belacqua Shuah. A character who is summed up by a friend here:

"My sometime friend Belacqua enlivened the last phase of his solipsism, before he toed the line and began to relish the world, with the belief that the best thing he had to do was to move constantly
...more
Alex V.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was kind of a hoot, which is not how most describe the works of this author. Mean-spirited, unsympathetic fun in a lifetime of stories about Belocqua Shuha, a manifestation of being uncomfortable being alive. Bel is unapologetically horrible most of the time, a bratty pratt in appreciative of the world that embraces him. I dig it.

Much of this early work is hard going, especially the hallucinatory bah humbug tale "A Wet Night." I think the story is about Christmas but not sure. Whatever
...more
William Dearth
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
I have to go five stars on this one even though "Wet Night" was rather difficult. Beckett can be simultaneously comic, dark, merciless, pitiless, intelligent, satirical and creative. The times in which he is brilliant, which are many, he writes some of the most elegant prose that I know of. He is obviously a talent of astounding intelligence and background knowledge, so you best be on your toes while reading the majority of his work -- though admittedly, that will not always work.

These ten conne
...more
Holly Foley (Procida)
Was that english ? I mean do they consider translating into American or even readable British english ? It might well have been James Joyce as far as I was concerned. I generally approach these writers as codes to be solved. The problem was, I could figure out entire passages of description of Belaqua doing something very mundane, but then I got lost when any action happened. Parts were good...
Danny
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this was Beckett's first published fiction, this series of short stories was a reworking of a novel Beckett wrote that no one would publish. That novel, "Dream of Fair to Middling Women," was then released decades later. I read them in the order they were written, rather than published, which may have heightened my enjoyment of this collection. It's easy to see why no one would publish Dream of Fair; it's even more extremely inaccessible than Beckett's already often inaccessible works. ...more
Alanogue
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
At 27 Beckett displays an enviable erudition but does it sometimes come across as something of a conceit? Throughout this collection of loosely related pieces there is some wonderful humour although, to me, more than a fair share of unintelligible meandering. It's almost as though the protagonist's and the author's inebriation becomes, at times, indistinguishable one from the other. This leads at times to hallucinatory and 'stream of consciousness' prose which, to be frank, can (and should only) ...more
Gregory
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beckett beginning to show beyond the shadow of Joyce. Slight plot and narrative, glimpsing out from under the weight of great words and elaborately structured sentences. It’s a swim amongst vocabulary, sometimes for the delight of vocabulary’s own sake and sometimes for the sensation of those words and twists.

Rushed ending to a very enjoyable snapshot.
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose
Lots of banal, blunderous activity described in highfalutin language which lends an air comedy. Passes for a life-spanning novel more than a series of short stories. Beckett is really hit-or-miss for me—he's obviously a talented writer but some of his existential musings are incredibly boring in both form and content. This early work was enjoyable and absent the tedious meditations. ...more
Dylan
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Three of ten stories felt worthwhile: Dante and the Lobster, Love and Lethe, and Walking Out. Otherwise dense with allusion and impossibly obscure vocabulary. I didn't get most of it, and was bored besides. ...more
Phil Vivian
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-read
A re-read, a few decades on. I'd forgotten how darkly humorous it is, as well as being obscured by a large and, at times, obscure vocabulary, with plentiful Latin and other references thrown in for good measure. ...more
Terry Wheeler
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Ah so this was the place to start with Beckett: the first novel. Never too late. More Joycean than the later darker humour. To be read with a Dublin dialect. Read slowly. Much to be devoured. Oh so rich its prose. Magnificent.
Brendan
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beckett's writing is inventive and funny as always, but the pieces here are too disjointed for a continuous narrative, and too fragmentary and underdeveloped for a collection of stories. ...more
Grim-Anal King
From evocative to incomprehensible and back again every few minutes. Never read any other Beckett, but I'm guessing he was just warming up here. ...more
Amos Robinson
Not my favourite Beckett but worthwhile
Glenn Evans
3.5 stars
Marija Andreeva
Oct 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
1.5
Not my cup of tea. There are some glimpses that I liked, but very few. However, he is a good writer indeed, I just didn't connect with this one.
...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
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