The Unnamable is the third novel in Beckett's trilogy, three remarkable prose works in which men of increasingly debilitating physical circumstances act, ponder, consider, and rage against impermanence and the human condition. The Unnamable is without doubt the most uncompromising text and it is read here in startling fashion by Sean Barrett.
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"Beckett is one of the most positive writers alive. Behind all his mournful blasphemies against man there is real love. And he is genuine: every sentence is written as if it had been lived." (The New York Times Book Review)
This book is a long and disjointed monologue of some (unnamable) being, trying to determine what it/he really is. He is sometimes waiting to die, sometimes waiting to be born, always struggling with facts, sensations and language itself in the search of himself. Definitely not for everybody, but extremely funny in its way, and well worth the effort in my opinion.
But the narration here is simply astounding. Sean Barrett brings this incredibly difficult, almost inaccessible work to life in a way I never imagined possible. The same also goes for his work on "Molloy" and "Malone Dies", but this book is truly the hardest of the three, and Mr. Barrett reads it perfectly.
These books were so full of mad sanity it can be difficult to stay "on the bycycle." Malloy was the easiest for me; he is so hysterically original. But they become more serious as they move along; the characters voices assuming a more bitter maturity. Beckett is a world class poet and I'm out of my depth without larger insights than my own to follow but I loved the adventure and will enjoy listening to them repeatedly for years to come.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I regret not reading the first two books in the trilogy first (Molloy and Malone Dies). This book clearly pushes the limits of what can be said without reference to other people or things. Well, he does talk about other things but the effect is of being isolated outside of time and place; of being stuck without any external stimuli to respond to for all eternity. Hell. Probably. Unless it isn't. But there I go again. Absurdist seems like too frivolous a name for this genre, but I believe that is the usual classification. Whether the two prior books would have made this any more meaningful, they would at least have given a little context for this character. Read on its own, it is so unrelentingly bleak, it makes Waiting for Godot seem like a walk in the park. Back to the limits of what can be said without plot or character, Beckett is the master of this sort of thing. Just when you think there's nothing more to be said, and you're thinking you can't take any more of it, he manages to milk one more topic for his amorphous protagonist to rant about. But he knows when to stop. I can't say I was sorry when it was over, but I can't say I didn't appreciate this strange intellectual exercise either. I think there is a certain appropriateness in listening to this as opposed to reading it on paper. The protagonist is stuck listening to his own thoughts in real time. A similar phenomenon afflicts the brave listener willing to take on this audiobook. Good luck.
English school principal & teacher in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.
Absolutely. I recommend Malloy in particular.
I love Beckett and literary experiments in general, but this book was just too hard to follow audibly. The nature of the story is that nothing's happening, so it's easy to zone out and feel like you're wasting your time by listening to it. The performance was as good as can be expected, but this is a book that doesn't easily lend itself to another medium.
"I'll go on..."
Before listening to this I would have said that Sean barrett is a very good narrator. After listening to this however, I believe he is the best. This is a very heavy going piece of literature, yet he reads this text with a huge range of emotions. One minute he seems to cry out in despair with the agony of his strange existance while the next injecting the story with a little light-hearted amusement, passing by resignation, anger and exhaustion along the way. Beckett's work is not easy to interpret, however I don't believe I have heard it better done than here.
The last few lines of the text are spellbinding to listen too. It almost feels like the entire text builds up to just those last few lines. All I was able to do after hearing them was simply sit and gaze out of the window. I had no words for how I felt.
isn't that almost the same question? well, my answer is as above, anyway. Given the nature of the text, it's impossible really to talk about it in terms of scenes or events.
It made me do both. I have never been so moved by an audiobook before. It really was an astounding listening experience. All three books in the Beckett trilogy were a revelation to me, but certain lines in this book simply left me stunned. It is terribly difficult to put it into words.
I almost feel that this book is much better to listen to rather than read. I don't think I would have stuck with it otherwise. Not only is it worth reading for Beckett's outlook on the human condition, but it's honestly a work of auditry art in its delivery. I would however not recommend reading it without having read the first two books in the Beckett trilogy to start with.
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