Degradation and vagrancy vacillate within the strange, surreal and at times ghastly world of Samuel Beckett’s novels-Proust once wrote that writers are in essence translators of their own inner consciousness and whereas Proust’s writing is inherent incandescent and poetic, Beckett’s is moribund and morbid, yet unique and captivating. Proust’s world is one of madelines and hawthorns, whereas Beckett’s is of tramps and turpitude.
‘Molloy’ follows two principal characters-the vagrant Molloy and his travails as he traverses around a narrow piece of land which he lugubriously inhabits. During the course of Molloy’s perambulations, the reader is treated to both some weird and disturbing images (his pebble sucking habits, or his relationship with his mother) but also to strangely poetic passages, such as;
“From there he must have seen it all, the plain, the sea and those self-same hills that some call mountains, indigo in places in the evening light, their serried ranges crowding the sky-line, cloven with hidden valleys that the eye divines from sudden shifts of colour and then from other signs for which there are no words, only thoughts.”
“Yes, the great cloud was ravelling, discovering here and there a pale and dying sky, and the sun, already down, was manifest in the livid tongues of fire darting towards the zenith, falling and darting again, ever more pale and languid, and doomed to be no sooner lit than to be extinguished.”
A sense of negativity and cynicism pervades the narrative, as Molloy is on a kind of existential search for something (or nothing), whether eulogizing about bicycles or rubbing against his erstwhile captor Louse, Molloy exists as a kind of force of nature, juxtaposing questions about human excrement which profound questions on human existence, whilst puntcuated with self-doubted.
On the other hand, Moran, a private detective who is searching for Molloy. He is no less cynical than Molloy, yet at the start of the novel seems inordinately proud of his intelligence-however, this thing veil of self-assurance gradually disintegrates as his narrative continues, until gradually, both physically and mentally, he begins to resemble Molly, as the two characters and narrative streams coalesce into one, as the reader is caught in the hypnotic web of Beckett’s prose.