Malone Dies

Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 04:03 pm
Malone Dies
Samuel Beckett
ISBN: 0-8021-5091-8
Publisher: Grove Press

OVERVIEW: "Malone Dies" is the 2nd in a 3-part trilogy released originally in 1951 (for a review of part 1, see this thread). Don't approach this book with any conventional notions of plot, setting, progression and so on. Much like "Malloy", "Malone Dies" grew out of deliberate attempts to break the cast, so to speak, of conventional writing. By and large, this book is concerned with our main character losing his mind in a medical institution. Again, it's written brilliantly; jerking the reader around much like thoughts do. Clues that this person is likely insane aren't overt, yet clear enough. It's not a difficult read, but be warned; you'll want to bite this off in small chunks. More of a work of craft than a "here's what happens"-story, expect to travel places you've not been through the thoughts of another. It also has an unexpected ending. Though not as enjoyable, personally, as the first in the trilogy, I can still recommend this read as it pertains to philosophy if only for it's mental and behavioral insights... if nothing else.


  • Though sometimes difficult to follow, recollections and present-day thoughts are artfully woven.
  • Sparce yet tasteful use of obscenities (we are, after all, taking an odessy through a human mind in its privacies)
  • Gritty and sometimes nauseating descriptions of things one would expect to be nauseating
  • Nothing is overtly connected - I'm sure I missed much, but of the connections to past, present and other individuals I did catch, they were subtly drawn with good taste
  • Unconventional use of phrasing and sentance structure; often completely obliterated to illustrate a feeling, idea, point or dual meaning


  • I'm going to have to read this again in the not-too-distant future; subtleties were apparently lost on my as I found myself often wondering what the heck was he talking about
  • Needs to be read slowly and thoughtfully - treat it like you might the lines of a scultpure or painting you want to appreciate; this is a complex work.


  • The Dank Reality of a Dying Body (pp189)
  • To be Grave No more (pp195)
  • Possibility of Attonement (pp239)
  • Old Bodily Love (pp265)
  • An Unexpected Ending (pp283)

NOTABLE QUOTES: [INDENT]"... the two pencils then, the exercise-book and then the stick, which I did not have either when I came here, but which I consider mine, I must have described it long ago. I am quiet, I have time, but I shall describe as little as possible. It is with me un the bed, under the blankets, there was a time I used to rub myself against it saying, It's a little woman. But it is so long that it sticks out under the pillow and finishes far behind me. I continue from memory. It is black dark. I can hardly see the window. It must be letting in the night again. Even if I had time to rummage in my possessions, to bring them over to the bed one by one or tankled together as is often the way with forsaken things, I would not see anything..."
[/INDENT][INDENT]"For this ear, which is on the same plane as the cheek or nearly, was glued to the earth in a way it seldom is in wet weather, and he couldhear the kind of distant roar of the earth drinking and the sighing of the soaked bowed grasses. The idea of punishment came to his mind, addicted it is true to that chimera and probably impressed by the pusture of the body and the fingers clenched as though in torment. And without knowing exactly what his sin was he felt full well that living was not a sufficient atonement for it ro that this atonement was in itself a sin, calling for more attonement, and so on, as if there could be anything but life, for the living."
[/INDENT][INDENT]"Moll. I'm going to kill her. She continued to look after Macmann, but she was no longer the same. When she had finished cleaning up she sat down on a chair, in the middle of the room, and remained without stirring. If he called her she went and perched on the edge of the bed and even submitted to be titillated. But it was obvious her thoughts were elsewhere and her only wish to return to her chain and resume the now familiar gesture of massaging her stomach, slowly, weighing on it with her two hands. She was also beginning to smell. She had never smelt sweet, but between not smelling sweet and giving off the smell she was giving off now there was a gulf".
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Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 07:39 pm
I read all three a few years ago. They're all astonishing. The Unnamable is just wild -- the last lines of the trilogy are unforgettable -- among the best closing lines in all of modernism (it stands with the end of Ulysses).
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:03 am
Aedes;87225 wrote:
I read all three a few years ago. They're all astonishing. The Unnamable is just wild -- the last lines of the trilogy are unforgettable -- among the best closing lines in all of modernism (it stands with the end of Ulysses).

wow! Oh that's good to hear!

Yea, although I've thoroughly enjoyed these two thus far, I'll confess to some disappointment given all the anticipation that's been built in me given the work's reputation - so yea, nice to hear some good stuff is coming.
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