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Beckett's Three Novels

RTÉ Radio 1, MW and LW, 5.30 am, 13 April 2006

RTÉ Radio 1 will broadcast the CD production of the three novels, read by Barry McGovern, continuously from beginning to end.

Beckett’s three novels – CD box set
RTÉ Radio launches the new CD box set of Beckett’s three novels: Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, read by Barry McGovern on Monday, 10 April 2006. The CD box set will be on sale from
www.rte.ie/shop and shops nationwide from April 7.

Audio Sample: I am in my mother's room.

This prose book published in 1951 was the first book in a trilogy written in French that included Malone meurt (1951; Malone Dies) and L'Innommable (1953; The Unnamable).

Molloy is less a novel than a set of two monologues narrated by Molloy and his pursuer Moran. In the first half of the work, the dying Molloy describes how he lost everything, including the use of his legs, on his journey in search of his mother. The petty bureaucrat Moran assumes the narrative voice in the second half, describing his hunt for Molloy, which leaves him crippled and just as destroyed as his quarry.

Both halves of the book display Beckett's black humour and despairing outlook, as well as literary techniques that became characteristic of his work. Molloy's remarks, for example, reveal his uncertain memory: "It was winter, it must have been winter. . . . Perhaps it was only autumn." The sense of the absurd that marks Beckett's dramatic works is also present, notably in the narrator's--and the reader's--questioning the existence and truth of the story itself. Molloy and Moran are variations of a single centre-less persona, who appears elsewhere in the trilogy as Malone, Macmann, and Mahood. Molloy was Beckett's first major writing in French. Critics noted its sardonic relation to Homer's Odyssey and described Beckett's 1952 absurdist play Waiting for Godot as its fitting successor

Production Notes:
Actor Barry McGovern, producer Tim Lehane and sound engineer Mark Duff give their views on the making of RTÉ Radio's Samuel Beckett: Three Novels
Click here for notes...

Audio Sample: I shall soon be quite dead at last ...

This novel was originally written in French as Malone meurt (1951) and translated by the author into English. It is the second narrative in the trilogy that began with Molloy (1951) and concluded with The Unnamable (1953). The novel's narrator, Malone, is dying. He spends his time writing an inventory of his meagre possessions, a description of his condition, and stories about a character that is clearly an aspect of himself. Malone's fictional character, like Malone himself, is in an asylum. Malone cannot keep track of his character's name, and that fact that he struggles to tell his character's story can be viewed as a satire on the creative process as well as an attempt to understand the essence of the self.

Actor Barry McGovern and producer Tim Lehane recording Beckett’s The Unnamable

Audio Sample: Where now? Who now? When now?

The Unnamable, published in French as L'Innommable in 1953, was translated by the author into English. It is the third in a trilogy of prose narratives that began with Molloy (1951) and Malone meurt (1951; Malone Dies), published together in English as Three Novels (1959). Lacking any plot in the conventional sense, The Unnamable furthers the general focus of the trilogy--the search for the self within the tragic realm of human suffering.

The obsessive narrator--who opens the novel asking, "Where now? Who now? When now?"--is a disembodied person, living in a large jar in a restaurant window in Paris. The narrator is not sure where he is, who he is or why he is. He might have just died and found himself in another world, but it hardly matters. He changes his name (from Mahood to Worm and Basil), calls others by different names, imagines episodes, remembers events, speculates about the future.  The final sentence in the novel is a long dramatic monologue. The narrator concludes with the desire to continue living despite an inescapable sense of anguish and entropy: "I can't go on, I'll go on."The tone changes from storytelling to desperate panic. It is one of the most compulsive voices in literature and will be brought to life by actor Barry McGovern here.

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