a snapshot of molloy


Book: Molloy.

Chapter: A petty trick! There are no chapters in Molloy, even though Beckett numbers them I and II. There are two characters with respective monologues who are arguably one character, after all. This mystery takes you to the heart of the novel. In a pinch, I’ll call this “chapter” Moran. It’ll do, literally.

Scene: Moran and his son set off from home like Abraham and Isaac. Armed with a knife and a set of instructions he doesn’t understand, Moran sallies forth in search of Molloy. One day after sending his son to a village to buy a bike, Moran, who is sitting by a fire at camp, is surprised by a man in the forest. Moran is astonished by the man’s physical similarity to his own.

Sentence: “But all this was nothing compared to the face which I regret to say vaguely resembled my own, less the refinement of course, same little abortive moustache, same little ferrety eyes, same paraphimosis of the nose, and a thin red mouth that looked as if it was raw from trying to shit its tongue.”

Reversals and confusions are prevalent in Molloy.

Epic travelers are commonplace; journeys go nowhere; past tense is present; a hairy-faced woman might be a man; and mouths are sphincters straining to evacuate tongues—and meaning.

Is it any wonder, then, that Moran gives his son, with whom he has such difficulty talking, a forced enema? This despised hole, this other-mouth, is compelled to utter “a few fibrous shreds” floating in a confusion of yellow.

Don’t let this striking image turn you off of Molloy, though.

It’s a terrific bit of writing despite the way it befouls any attempt at summary or pat interpretation.

Trust me.

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