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Molloy (Modern Classics)

By Samuel Beckett (Author)
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Item description for Molloy (Modern Classics) by Samuel Beckett...

Molloy, the first of the three masterpieces which constitute Samuel Beckett's famous trilogy, appeared in French in 1951, followed seven months later by Malone Dies (Malone meurt) and two years later by The Unnamable (L'Innommable). Few works of contemporary literature have been so universally acclaimed as central to their time and to our understanding of the human experience.

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Item Specifications...

Format: Audiobook,   Classical,   Unabridged
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 5.75" Width: 5.04" Height: 1.97"
Weight:   0.88 lbs.
Binding  CD
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626342927  
ISBN13  9789626342923  
UPC  730099029223  

Availability  0 units.

More About Samuel Beckett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Samuel Beckett: Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), one of the leading literary and dramatic figures of the twentieth century, was born in Foxrock, Ireland and attended Trinity University in Dublin. In 1928, he visited Paris for the first time and fell in with a number of avant-garde writers and artists, including James Joyce. In 1937, he settled in Paris permanently. Beckett wrote in both English and French, though his best-known works are mostly in the latter language. A prolific writer of novels, short stories, and poetry, he is remembered principally for his works for the theater, which belong to the tradition of the Theater of the Absurd and are characterized by their minimalist approach, stripping drama to its barest elements. In 1969, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and commended for having "transformed the destitution of man into his exaltation." Beckett died in Paris in 1989.
At the age of seventy-six he said: "With diminished concentration, loss of memory, obscured intelligence... the more chance there is for saying something closest to what one really is. Even though everything seems inexpressible, there remains the need to express. A child need to make a sand castle even though it makes no sense. In old age, with only a few grains of sand, one has the greatest possibility." (from Playwrights at Work, ed. by George Plimpton, 2000)

Samuel Beckett lived in Dublin. Samuel Beckett was born in 1906 and died in 1989.

Samuel Beckett has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Beckett, Samuel
  2. Landmarks of World Literature (Paperback)
  3. Letters of Samuel Beckett

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Product Categories

1Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Drama
3Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Unabridged
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Beckett, Samuel
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Drama > Playwrights, A-Z > ( B ) > Beckett, Samuel
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
9Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
10Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
11Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > Beckett, Samuel
12Music > Styles > Classical > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Molloy (Modern Classics)?

trips into a wall  Aug 7, 2006
Where the human will finishes, the absurd begins. It is also the start of the death of humanity. The task of narrating this disintegration is Beckett's purpose in this novel. It is a purposeless task. "The truth is I haven't much will left", says Molloy. How can a novel ever be sustained on that? The disappearrance of mankind leaves the lonely self, a bag of bones, in front of God's mystery. and God's silence.

With their lack of will, it becomes difficult to distinguish one person from another. Consciousness becomes impossible. It has to be filled with stories. Any kind of stories; true, false, meaningful or not. The writer is somebody standing at an observation post. His mother is the breeder of a foul race, humankind, now nearly extinct. Man is now neither man nor beast. And the writer merely observes this and tries to understand. Which is difficult, because things become nameless just as names describe nothing. What to make with words which are not meanings or references but particles of an ever disintegrating reality? "And even my sense of identity was wrapped in a namelessness often hard to penetrate".

The narrator wonders about his reality, both as an author and as a human being. His lack of command over words destroys the world, which becomes unnamable or "foully named". One solution, if one is passionate about truth, is to speak little. Can it be that we are not free, not free to speak? If human life is a burial ground, the narrator, like the author, has chosen to be a mere spectator. The thing to contribute to life is merely our "presence", only. We can study while we are here: anthropology, astronomy, magic... it is just a manner of killing time. If man is alone, then the world may be at an end. Still, all things in it hang together, as if by mystery. And this, instead of proving a solution, only adds to our sense of wonderment. And it can never be spoken, but there it is.

In this state, thinking is asking oneself questions merely for the sake of looking at them. This is the spirit of the "incurious seeker", the one who is finally prepared to learn.

In Part Two we meet Jacques Moran, a private detective who is to narrate his own experience of pursuing Molloy. Knowing that he has been chosen to perform a unique task, he becomes anxious. As different from Molloy, the detective seems to be an ordered, rational man. Nevertheless, he is beset by the same kind of questions that rouble Molloy. For instance, he is engaged to accomplish a mission that he cannot fully understand. Like Molloy, he has a problem with the purposefulness of life. But while Molloy has surrendered his will completely to the absurd, Moran's is a rationality which is just about to crack, and his process of psychic disintegration is started as he first gets in touch with the Molloy affair. Life becomes inenarrable. People become multiple. Two Molloys Morgan has to follow: the one inside himself and the one outside. Life becomes a stage of mirrors. Which is the true reflection?

Vagrancy can be described as a state of the mind. It is synonimous with the anguish of absolute freedom. As our lives become "worse" year after year, is it not by force of habit that we persuade ourselves that they improve when they actually decline? Moran never finds Molloy, but he un-finds himself. He un-changes his life. The only way forward seems to be a long way back.
Joyce is Smarter, Beckett's Deeper (?)   Apr 25, 2006
I recently heard Cornell West, a Princeton professor, say during a talk that he would take Chekov over Beckett any day. "Chekov's deeper--Beckett's smarter," he said. Perhaps true (though I don't really know how he's thinking about it). But I tend to think Beckett is both DEEP and SMART.

So in terms of the "greatest novel of the 20th century," I pick this one. Ulysses is sprawling, difficult, experimental, and obviously more influential than this novel. But when you "don't understand" something in Ulysses, it's probably just because it depends upon an obscure reference--or a combination of words you only half know--or something Joyce is simply withholding from the text. When you "don't understand" something in Beckett, it's because Beckett is MYSTICAL.

One of my favorite passages in this book consists of six straight pages of Molloy's describing how he tries to arrange six pebbles ("sucking stones") in his four pockets so that he can suck them in the same order over and over again (eventually, his "solution" is, if you will allow me to quote from my imperfect memory, "to throw away all of the stones but one, which I soon lost, or gave away, or threw away, or swallowed"). What other writer could pull this off?

If you can read only ONE thing by Beckett, read this--above the plays, above any of the early or late novels.
Molloy (Audiobook version)  Oct 30, 2005
This is a fabulous dramatic interpretation and realization of Beckett's greatest novel (really two loosely connected monologues). The actors are superbly in character and have the appropriate voices to convey the self-satisfied bewilderment of Molloy and bewildered self-satisfaction of Moran. It's a fitting cliche that this Audiobook brings the novel vividly to life. My only quibble is the recording quality, which is good, but does not attain Naxos' highest standard of transparency.
Unusual  Mar 22, 2005
This is quite unlike any book I've ever read. It is composed of 2 parts. The first is a rambling monologue from a decaying man (or is it woman or animal) named Molloy, in search of his mother. The second starts out as a detective named Moran in search of Molloy. In both stories nothing much happens involving any specific time or place, and the identities of all characters are in question. The only thing that really exists is the language, which turns out to not have much true meaning at all.

Read this if you are looking for an unique style of writing to experience. Perhaps you will learn more about the nature of language and identity, or perhaps you will find it tedious and pointless, but all readers will agree it is experimental and unique.
The Promise  Apr 19, 2004
Molloy is a novel that influenced the writing of novels to come after it. Samuel Beckett was among many of the writers after World War II who experienced "the anxiety of influence" and the shadow of Modernism. It was among many novels written in the 1940's that defined a space for new literature to exist in, where it had never been quite before. Modernism on the whole was perhaps not as experimental as we would like to think, and actually most of its authors were conservatives and reactionaries. James Joyce was not though, that is why he is the most influential writer of the 20th century. Joyce's main contribution was radical literary activity, using some Modernist techniques, creating his own language, and bringing all of history and science and literature into one book.

Samuel Beckett on the other hand was concerned with language itself, its ability to express ideas or to mirror reality, and those concerns have become our own. Molloy is both about the writing of the novel and the search of a character, and perhaps by the end of the novel we still do not know what has happened. Beckett introduces new elements into the serious novel such as the detective story and the self-reflexive narrative. And like a mystery story, Molloy is a search for the self, for truth, for a modern idiom, but unfortunately without arriving there.

Going back further than Joyce, to the 19th century where the bourgeois novel form was more or less firmly established by writers such as Dickens and Eliot, it would be interesting to compare that literary institution with what I will call "the Post-Modern novel" or Beckett's novel. In a standard 19th century novel we look for such conventions and characteristics such as plot, characterization, time, place, linear narrative, character motivation, and excellent use of the English language. If a novel does not live up to these expectations, we refer to it a bad novel or a novel which prattles. These conventions of the novel have fooled us into thinking it mirrors reality and experience. Modernism's achievement in such writers such as Joyce and Proust is to go beyond the 19th century novel and exist as a work of hyper-reality. One can use such a work as Ulysses to be directed through the city of Dublin since it is more real than "real." But one should not make the mistake of "Academic criticism, . . . (which) uses the word "realism" as if reality were already completely established (Robbe-Grillet 155)." Experience is both fictional discourse and fact "and it is never possible to decide which of the two possibilities is the right one (De Man 23)."

If Joyce is going beyond realism, Beckett goes the other way with his literature, which can be called the literature of disappointments. Rather than plot, there is storytelling without progression; instead of characterization, there is lack of character depth; there is no specific time or place, we often wonder where we are, whether months or days or hours have passed; instead of a linear narrative, or progression from birth to death, there is a narrative that goes astray, diverts, digressions, yet these are interesting detours; and instead of a strong literary language, there is the bare essentials of language, sentences out of a primer, or "writing degree zero." Beckett commits these errors or disappointments for very good reasons that I would like to show here.

Beckett's main concerns as a writer are involved with the problems of writing itself, the futility of expression, the power of language, the death of the author in terms of Foucault: these were the problems that many writers dealt with after Joyce. Alain Robbe-Grillet claims that "Before the work, there is nothing: no certainty, no purpose, no message (141)." This was such an attitude of a writer at the time. For Beckett, the "anxiety of influence" is there as well; but for Beckett he will be influenced by Joyce by an extent; he will distance himself and his work from Joyce's; he will deal with other problems. If Joyce is trying to expand the potential of language and literature, Beckett will contract, he will reduce literature down the level of language. He will grow anxious about the writer's position in the world that he will reject, a position which other writers have ignored. Beckett will ask himself "why should I write?" And "what should I write about?" And better yet "how do I write?" The novel Molloy is the result of all Beckett's anxiety to write a novel. "It is also a parody of the novel itself, a middle-class form. . . "(Gontarski 309). The style of it itself suggests all that. The novel is a promise of what literature could be.

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