Shane's Reviews > Molloy

Molloy by Samuel Beckett
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it was ok

Stream of consciousness novels are either the work of a higher genius or the prattling of an addled mind, I have never been able to figure out which. And this is a mind-boggling work of what, I really don’t know. Given that Beckett wrote this book during his recovery from a nervous breakdown, I think the addled mind theory is more probable to me.

The book is split into two equal halves: the first covers the voice of Molloy, a crippled, derelict of a man who can still ride a bike, who is going to see his mother (I suspect she is dead and this journey is his way back to his maker), he may even have killed her; he meets and falls into various misadventures along the way; the second half is narrated by Moran the inept investigator, or agent, who is on the hunt for Molloy for a crime the latter has ostensibly committed, and what that crime is we never know. Both men have eerie similarities: they have game legs, their minds wander although Moran is a bit more coherent than Molloy, sex is a chore, just get it done and out of the way, whether it is by Molloy picking up derelict women for anal sex or Moran masturbating while his son is not around; both do not know why they are going or where they are going or what they are going to do when they arrive except that something is pushing them on. Shades of Waiting for Godot.

There is poetry in the rambling prose, and words that I couldn’t pick up in the dictionary, like “absterge” and “podex.” There is an element of criminality. At one point Moran has killed a man and dismembered him but he doesn’t know why, and because he is our narrator, we don’t either. At another point he has “a savage row” with his son who is accompanying him on the hunt for Molloy, how savage we will never know, but sufficient for the son to abandon his father. Both stories end inconclusively: Molloy gets lost in a forest and Moran doesn’t get his man. And I asked myself, what the hell was this story about? And why was it only called Molloy, why not Molloy & Moran? Or Going to Godot?

Of course this is the work by none other than Samuel Beckett, and we should not say unkind things about him, other than pay homage to his superior genius that we will never comprehend. I looked at the reviews of this book on this forum and even the most cynical of reviewers rate it a respectful 4 stars. So let me cast the first stone and be stoned in turn. If I were to judge this book as a novel, or as an extension of its form, I think it’s dismal. The essential element of story is missing or badly mangled. I think Beckett is better to have stuck to poetry and theatre—at least, I understood those. Writing a novel to heal oneself from a nervous breakdown and then inflicting its maniacal prattling upon a faithful readership is unkind.

And now I face the ultimate unkindness: the other two novels in this trilogy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, sit in my Kindle, crying out to be read. They will just have to lie there. For them, waiting until I pick them up will be like waiting for Godot.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 15, 2019 – Shelved
March 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Great review, Shane. Sums up my experience with so many they-who-are-not-to-be-dissed authors.


Shane Sandy wrote: "Great review, Shane. Sums up my experience with so many they-who-are-not-to-be-dissed authors."

Thanks! Fame leads to experimentation. But sometimes the experiments go awry.


message 3: by Gail (new)

Gail Like your first paragraph - quite humorous. I've just finished reading Portrait of the Artist by James Joyce. Can't say that I am a fan of stream of consciousness novels either. Did pursue it and look forward to a discussion with my Celtic Book Club.

Good ending.


Shane Gail wrote: "Like your first paragraph - quite humorous. I've just finished reading Portrait of the Artist by James Joyce. Can't say that I am a fan of stream of consciousness novels either. Did pursue it and l..."
Thanks!


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