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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal example of postwar existentialist fiction, 11 Mar 2011
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Molloy (Paperback)
Most readers come to Samuel Beckett through a reading of one of his famous plays. 'Waiting For Godot' in particular is a set text in many schools. The irony of this is that most of these readers go no further than the relatively approachable dramatic works, and so remain unaware of the range and difficulty of Beckett's achievements in prose. Where to start with the latter?

'Molloy', composed during the same period as 'Godot', is actually Beckett's fifth novel, after 'Dream of Fair To Middling Women' (written in 1932 but not published until 1993), 'Murphy' (1938), 'Watt' (1941-45, published 1953) and 'Mercier and Camier' (written in French from 1946 but not published until 1970 in French and in altered form in English in 1974). 'Molloy' (1951 in French) also forms the first part of Beckett's loose 'Trilogy' but does not need to be read in that form to be appreciated.

The reader who comes to 'Molloy' without any other preparation will encounter difficulties, but should persist. Beckett has little interest in the conventional presentation of narrative and plot: 'Molloy' hangs together it seems by the sheer force of will of its characters as embodied in their speaking voices. Those voices are sometimes confused, sometimes infuriatingly repetitive or obsessive. Meaning emerges cumulatively.

The novel is divided into two halves, which suggests a structure based on both repetition and mirroring. Each presents the story of a man - Molloy and Moran respectively - engaged on a journey: in Molloy's case, to visit his mother; in Moran's, to find Molloy. So far, so simple. But in both cases the task proves almost impossible to complete. Beckett drags the reader through literal and figurative forests and wildernesses in pursuit of goals that may be completely illusory, in which simple physical tasks take on obscure spiritual significance, and in which the only certainty is bodily and mental disintegration. Molloy's narrative is the wilder and more difficult; Moran's the more studied and - only apparently - straightforward. Throughout, Beckett demonstrates why he is regarded as one of the most important writers of the twentieth century - certainly the most significant in this mode since Kafka - and incidentally why he is one of the funniest, so long as your taste is for gallows humour.

A work of existentialist genius, easily the equal of 'Godot', but not recommended for the impatient. 'Mercier and Camier' or the sublime 'Murphy' might be an easier way in for the unsure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A start without an end, 4 July 2013
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This review is from: Molloy (Kindle Edition)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wide-awake reading, 23 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Molloy (Paperback)
In typical Beckett fashion, this is not a book suited to bedtime reading. The wanderings and contemplations of the central character are often perplexing and I struggled to really identify with the character but there is no doubting the literary genius of Beckett. Excellent read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 Aug 2009
By 
Moonshine. "Spara Fugle" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Very well read in an authentic Irish voice which brings out a lot of the nuances of the 'characters'.
Classy .
Better than reading the book as a paperback.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Aug 2014
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all good
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myth in Dementia, 11 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Molloy (Paperback)
This was quite difficult to get into,as the first half of the book is devoid of paragraphs and is written in a first person stream of consciousness style that roams wildly about,expressing the deteriorated rambling and obsessive mind of the main protagonist.At times the authors thoughts on the actual writing process becomes evident which adds to the surreal existential quality.The second half is more traditionally structured as it charts the mental deterioration of the second main character who is relatively normal at first but descends into confusion as the story progresses.
The book has been read as a Jungian myth in which the imagery portrayed is symbolic of the workings of archetypes,which adds another dimension to it,but you don't explicitly need to be aware of this consciously to enjoy it.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Franz Kafka would be proud, 28 April 2010
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This review is from: Molloy (Paperback)
I find it difficult to review books but I am not daunted by the task of reviewing this one because Beckett was economical with words.

Therefore to him this review has already descended into digression. It should be succinct to be in keeping with his style of brevity in description. One word names for the characters are characteristic of his economy; Molloy, Youdi, Malone, Martha.

The uncertainty of the narrative voice indicates a unique mode of storytelling pioneered by Beckett. The character Molloy is aware that he has an illegitimate leg but cannot tell the reader which one it is. There are many other examples of imprecision but I fear I have said enough already.

People should read this book after reading Kafka's The Trial and make up they're own minds about it. I found Molloy uncommonly frustrating but ultimately an entertaining, amusing and vulgar book.
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Molloy by Samuel Beckett
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