Samuel Beckett's Murphy
The problem of seeing in an indeterminate world has long preoccupied Samuel Beckett. In his works, human beings no longer occupy a stable and privileged point in space and time from which they may visually organize, give meaning to, and institute relationships with other beings and objects. Instead, they find themselves drifting in and out of vague, undefined fields of vision in which the objects of their gaze appear, disintegrate, combine, separate, approach, and fade away in unpredictable fashion. The subjects themselves are victims of the same instability, and they call their own existence and its form into question at least as often as they interrogate the world around them. Indeed, the very boundary between the self and the world is an object of much confusion and speculation.
Murphy, Beckett's first full-length novel, published in 1938 with the help of Herbert Read, is a natural development from More Pricks Than Kicks. It is more accessible than the later novels but its apparent lightness of texture should not be mistaken for a lack of substance. Although Beckett himself has tended to dismiss the early English novels as of lesser importance than his works in French, as one critic has observed Murphy "is that rarity in modern fiction, a completely successful novel of ideas".
Murphy is a young man not in the best of health. He suffers from heart attacks and like Belacqua has pains in his neck and feet. He never wears a hat and dresses in an unkempt suit that through long wear is shaped like a tube and stained the colour of verdigris.
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