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A start without an end
on 4 July 2013
Molloy, the story of both a man travelling and a man following, who may or may not be the same person, was my first foray into the work of Beckett. Being familiar with the reputation, at least, of Waiting for God of and Beckett 's standing as an exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd I forewarned myself with the knowledge that Molloy might be a challenging read.
To my relief, reading Molloy was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. After a few pages I found my mind tuned in to Beckett 's flowing, circular narrative, which is often in the form of Molloy's circular, repetitive monologue. The introspective meanderings of Molloy, fixed on his bad leg, his bad memory, his inner voice and a troubled journey to see his mother, form the plot of the unusual but engaging first half of the book.
The second half of the book deals with an, at first, altogether different character. Again written in the same monologous style, with the reader now well and truly familiar with the style of prose, the central character becomes Moran, an agent - of what or whom is never made clear - sent to find Molloy. What Moran is to do with Molloy should he find him is never made clear, in fact, the cloudiness of the reason signals the deterioration of Moran's once meticulous being.
Moran's journey mirrors Molloy's in more ways than one, both having clear objectives - to find Molloy or, for Molloy, to find his mother - that slip away from them. Both men have difficult relationships with their close family that perhaps borders on cruelty, Moran with his son and Molloy with his mother. This narrative symmetry gradually evolves in a physical and mental similarity, which leaves the reader wondering: is Moran becoming Molloy, or has he in fact always been Molloy and the story is a retrospective of his earlier life?
The question hangs over the end of the book, which finished all too quickly, disappointing only in the sense that there was no real conclusion. The are more books in the series, which the ending of Molloy almost implores you to read.
In essence Molloy is frustrating in the sense there is no obvious answer to the questions posed in the book. However, I found the book interesting and enjoyable. Those who enjoy the teasing plots of Kafka's Trial or Camut's The Outsider should find Molloy right up their street.