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Murphy Hardcover – 1957


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (1957)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006AUZOK
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,595,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He was educated at Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1927. His made his poetry debut in 1930 with Whoroscope and followed it with essays and two novels before World War Two. He wrote one of his most famous plays, Waiting for Godot, in 1949 but it wasn't published in English until 1954. Waiting for Godot brought Beckett international fame and firmly established him as a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. Beckett continued to write prolifically for radio, TV and the theatre until his death in 1989.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Guardian of the Scales on 8 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Murphy is the first novel by Samuel Beckett, published in 1938, before he gained fame as a playwright. The eponymous central character is an enigmatic figure, whose main aim in life is to avoid participation in normal human society and, particularly, employment. When he finally does bow to his girlfriend's ceaseless prodding to get a job, it is in a mental institution, where he derives contentment observing the behaviour of the inmates. Murphy is a silent, shadowy figure, yet the book's other characters are irresistibly drawn to him.

The thing that struck me most about this novel was the similarity of the style to that of the great Irish comic writer Flann O'Brien, particularly O'Brien's first novel At Swim-two-Birds, published in 1939. I can only assume O'Brien read Murphy and was inspired to mimic it, and perfect its unusual style. Or perhaps the similarity is down to the common influence of Joyce.

Murphy is my first experience of Beckett. It is a comedy, though a very dark one. It is an engaging read, far more so than Beckett's reputation would suggest. Murphy's anti-socialness and solipsism is perhaps a little disturbing, yet also intriguing.
Overall: recommended, and if you like it, I suggest you go on to read At Swim-Two-Birds, by a contemporary and compatriot of Beckett's, stylistically similar, also featuring a protagonist pathologically averse to work, and an extremely funny read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
'Murphy' (published in 1938 but written largely in 1935) was Samuel Beckett's second, but first published novel. ('A Dream of Fair To Middling Women', written in 1932, was rejected, and published only after the author's death.) At that time he was known, if at all, as the author of a handful of short stories ('More Pricks Than Kicks', 1934), poems and learned essays, including a study of Proust (1931), and as a one-time associate and presumed epigone of James Joyce. His international reputation still lay far ahead of him.

In Murphy himself Beckett creates what is almost the prototype of the 'empty vessel' - a man who yearns for nothing except to be most completely himself. That that self emerges only when he is alone in a quiet room, strapped naked to a rocking chair, rocking himself towards nirvana, is a mere detail. Harried lovingly by Celia - surely the most unapologetic prostitute in literary history - to obtain employment, he prophesies disaster but out of pure inability to do otherwise sets out on the road to perdition or glory, pursued at a distance by Cooper - who never sits nor removes his hat - servant of Neary, Murphy's former spiritual advisor, who against his will discerns in Murphy the embodiment of his own nameless metaphysical lack.

It's worth reflecting that had the author succumbed to the murderous assault he suffered in Paris in 1938, or failed to survive the war he spent in occupied France, 'Murphy', rather than the famous plays or the post-war novels, would now be his major surviving contribution to literature. It's the work of a young man - barely thirty at the time of writing - and one of the most intelligent ever to set pen to paper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Woolco on 14 May 2014
Format: Paperback
I picked up 'Murphy' in a pause from reading Joyce's 'Ulysses'. Perhaps not the ideal respite from Joyce as Beckett's 'Murphy' suffers from the same deficiencies in clarity and sense. (How avant-garde readers will seethe!)

I'm not entirely a detractor. In fact, I have great admiration for Beckett's 'Molloy'. But, in my opinion, 'Murphy' does not possess the depth, focus and quality of humour achieved in 'Molloy'.

I'll admit that the initial attraction of 'Murphy' was the fully recorded chess game (Murphy v Mr Endon) toward the end of the novel - the idea intrigued me. Actually, it serves, in my view, as an apposite metaphor for the novel itself. Conforming, superficially, to the rules of the game (Beckett does indeed write grammatical sentences), yet utterly subverting the spirit of chess/the novel with outlandish, sometimes baffling, sometimes amusing, abstractions and obscurities.

For instance, Chapter 10 begins...

"Miss Counihan and Wylie were not living together!

The decaying Haydn, invited to give his opinion of cohabitation, replied: 'Parallel thirds.' But the partition of Miss Counihan and Wylie had more concrete grounds.

To begin with Miss Counihan, to begin with she was eager to get into the correct grass Dido cramp in plenty of time."

There's a little too much of this rather tiring terrain to trudge through, to my taste. It's not humorous, it doesn't add to character or scene, it just frustrates. The characters, possible excepting Murphy himself, are all very slight and insubstantial - almost comic book like. And their respective missions to unearth Murphy, unreal and hard to fathom. The novel is like a colourful, intricate, unravelling doodle.

The Murphy at the M.M.M.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nicholas hargreaves on 28 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some nice touches in this such as the protagonists penchant for rigorously obeying his astrology reading and the frequent use of medical terminologies.The prose is is quite complex in places and genius in others and it is easy to get lost in some of the dialogue, but the overall effect is satisfying enough to someone of moderate intellect such as myself.
In the introduction it is mentioned that some critics thought it pretentious in its intellectual style and it does suffer from trying to be too clever in places but I'll probably try a few more of this author to see how his style progresses.
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