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Demented Particulars: The Annotated 'Murphy': The Annotated 'Murphy' (Samuel Beckett) (Journal of Beckett Studies) Paperback – 7 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press (7 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0748641505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0748641505
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.5 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Chris Ackerley is Professor and former Head of English at Otago University, New Zealand. His publications include extensive commentaries on Samuel Beckett and Malcolm Lowry. His speciality is annotation, and he is (with S.E. Gontarski) author of the Grove Press (2004) and Faber (2006) Companion to Samuel Beckett. He has recently edited Watt for Faber. He is writing a monograph on Beckett and Science and annotating several works by Lowry.


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Although a long-time enthusiast of Samuel Beckett's first novel 'Murphy', I have found that many of its references are obscure even if their intent is usually obvious. It is a delight to find that 'Demented Particulars: The Annotated Murphy' by C.J.Ackerley provides illumination to the mysteries contained in 'Murphy'. Not only that but it is written in a way that complements the novel's comedy and wit.

Erudite and extremely funny in many places, the annotations are a pleasure to have at hand while reading the book, though be aware that the page references are 'keyed to the Routledge and Grove Press editions (...) also giving the Calder and Picador pagination' but not that of the Faber 2009 edition.

There are literary witticisms to be found - amusing references to 'The House at Pooh Corner' and 'Finnegans Wake' are there, as well as jests, puns and a good visual joke about aposeopesis. Great stuff.

A couple of unfortunate errors spotted in the annotations suggests that there may be more - unless these too are scholarly jokes or 'phrase-bombs'. In annotation 114.6, Professor Ackerley, based at Otago University in New Zealand, has described the advancing and retardation of clocks for daylight saving purposes as that experienced in NZ, rather than in the UK where the novel is set. He appears to have missed the fact that the seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres are reversed, with the consequential effect that has on when in the year the hour is added or subtracted (when the clocks in the UK go forward, those in NZ go back, and vice versa, while still conforming to the mnemonic Spring Forward, Fall Back). The second error is in annotation 241.1, where Beckett's late prose piece 'Ill Seen Ill Said' is referred to as 'Ill Seen Ill Heard'.

Never mind, this hasn't spoilt the spirit of Professor Ackerley's book, which has given me such pleasure that pleasure is not the word.

Jim Simpson
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