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8 - Molloy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2010

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Summary

We focus first on the epic sweep of Molloy's quest in part one of this novel: with its hilarious and horrifying digressions (the picaresque), its random but ultimately linked speculative questions (the philosophical novel), its parodic humour and lyrical pathos (remnants of ‘the old style’). True, the context of the whole work, indeed of the whole trilogy, is needed for its proper appreciation, especially of its narrative design – parallels and variations – but this context may be postponed for the moment.

Molloy's quest for his mother is one of Beckett's best-sustained narrative units, which can be read – ideally read aloud – with a delighted sense of immediacy. For there is nothing ‘slow’, in novelistic terms, about the laborious, halting, often arrested, and finally crawling movements of this half-senile cripple. His journey is doomed to seem interminable and futile, but his report on the journey (the self-conscious fiction) has a tone of despairing exhilaration. Molloy as narrator is ‘informative’ from the start; he may be an ignorant, agnostic or unreliable reporter, but he is not grudging with presentation of the self. He is not secretive, nor, given his limitations, obscure. His initial situation is presented with the forthrightness of a Robinson Crusoe: he is stranded in his mother's room, confined and obliged to tell of past adventures, of the long road to that room by his former self, before he had reached his present decrepitude: ‘What I'd like now is to speak of the things that are left, say my good-byes, finish dying’ (p. 1).

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Samuel Beckett , pp. 109 - 124
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1989

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  • Molloy
  • Andrew Karpati Kennedy
  • Book: Samuel Beckett
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511659430.011
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  • Molloy
  • Andrew Karpati Kennedy
  • Book: Samuel Beckett
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511659430.011
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Molloy
  • Andrew Karpati Kennedy
  • Book: Samuel Beckett
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511659430.011
Available formats
×