Murphy Paperback – 20 Jan 1994
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Murphy by Samuel Beckett - for the first time in Faber editions, a newly edited and corrected text of this classic novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Murphy, when first published in 1938, was Beckett's first novel and third work of fiction. Very Irish in the post-Joycean tradition, it nevertheless was the beginning of a new form of literary expression as some discerning critics recongnized at the time, drawing heavily on the author's time spent in London as a young man, and especially on his experiences as a male nurse.
It is also a comic masterpiece, full of the grim humour that had characterized his earlier More Pricks Than Kicks, and of little perceptions that cause the reader to stop and ponder or chuckle, rabelaisian in its bawdy, tragic in its relentlessly grim view of modern life. It has for many years been one of the most popular novels of one of the most seminal figures of the twentieth century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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. The Joycean influence is obvious enough in the relish for the unusual word, the taste for the recondite, and the ambition of the writing; 'Murphy' may be a short novel, but it is a remarkably concentrated one. It is Joycean also in the pungent satire at the expense of the Irish Free State and its inhabitants. But Beckett even at this time was too talented ever to be a mere imitator, and his personality - pessimistic, sceptical, scathing, misanthropic and yet curiously tender - too pronounced to be submerged. What emerges from the struggle with Joyce's influence is in some ways almost anti-Joycean in its directness and compression. After the war Beckett's language would be permanently changed in this direction: in 'Murphy' it still possesses all its original centrifugal energy.
'Murphy' recommends itself on a number of grounds. It is the funniest book I know. It contains some of Beckett's most memorably drawn characters and situations. It is exuberantly intelligent and demanding of the reader. It offers a masterclass in satirical comedy. It anticipates and predicts many of the moods and methods of postmodernist fiction. If there is a better novel of its kind I don't know of it.
[Readers who enjoy 'Murphy' and feel the need to explore the text in greater depth may find that they benefit from a reading of Demented Particulars: The Annotated 'Murphy': The Annotated 'Murphy' (Samuel Beckett) (Journal of Beckett Studies).]
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.
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.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Would be 5 stars if I wasn't so impatient!