MrMary Reads: Mallone Dies by Samuel Beckett

Yesterday I was moved by this post What Would I give up into remembering my favourite author from youth a Mr Ernest Hemingway.  I loved how Hemingway wrote, I like the man even more. He was a manly man who went around Paris with James Joyce picking fights with larger dudes. He got into a fist fight with Orson Welles and called him a faggot. He personally patrolled the Caribbean looking for Nazi U-boats. He created the Death in the afternoon cocktail which is champagne mixed with absinthe. His instruction btw were:

“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly

What saddened me about Hemingway was that he had electro-convulsive therapy to help him with his depression. However this therapy made him forget who he was. This made him unable to write and two days after leaving the he killed himself with his favourite shot gun. His father mother brother and sister and granddaughter if I remember correctly all committed suicide.

I started to think about how important even the most trivial memories are. I started to also realize how important the painful memories are. It brought me back to a series of stories I read by Samuel Beckett. Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable.

About Malone Dies

(from Wiki)

Malone Dies is a novel by Samuel Beckett. It was first published in 1951, in French, as Malone meurt, and later translated into English by the author. It can be described as the space between wholeness and disintegration, action and total inertia. It marked the beginning of Beckett’s most significant writing, where the questions of language and the fundamentals of constructing a non-traditional narrative became a central idea in his work. One does not get a sense of plot, character development, or even setting in this novel, as with most of his subsequent writing. Malone Dies can be seen as the point in which Beckett took another direction with his writing, where the bareness of consciousness played a huge part in all his subsequent writings.

Malone Dies contains the famous line, “Nothing is more real than nothing”.

Malone is an old man who lies naked in bed in either asylum or hospital–he is not sure which. Most of his personal effects have been taken from him, though he has retained some, notably his exercise book, brimless hat, and pencil. He alternates between writing his own situation and that of a boy named Sapo. When he reaches the point in the story where Sapo becomes a man, he changes Sapo’s name to Macmann, finding Sapo a ludicrous name. Not long after, Malone admits to having killed six men, but seems to think its not a big deal—particularly the last, a total stranger whom he cut across the neck with a razor.

Here is the Excerpt:

I shall soon be quite dead at last in spite of all. Perhaps next month. Then it will be the month of April or of May. For the year is still young, a thousand little signs tell me so.  Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I shall survive Saint John the Baptist’s Day and even the   Fourteenth of July, festival of   freedom. Indeed I would not put   it past, me to pant on to the   Transfiguration, not to speak of   the Assumption. But I do not   think so, I do not think I am   wrong in saying that these   rejoicings will take place in my   absence, this year. I have that   feeling, I have had it now for   some days, and I credit it. But   in what does it differ from those   that have abused me ever since   I was born? No, that is the kind   of bait I do not rise to any more,   my need for prettiness is gone.   I could die today, if I wished,   merely by making a little effort,   if I could wish, if I could make   an effort. But it is just as well   to let myself die , quietly,   without rushing things:   Something must have changed. I will not weigh upon the balance any more, one way or the other. I shall be neutral and inert. No difficulty there.   Throes are the only trouble, I   must be on my guard against   throes. But I am less given to   them now, since coming here. Of    course I still have my little fits of    impatience, from time to time, I must be on my guard against them, for the next fortnight or three weeks. Without exaggeration to be sure, quietly crying and laughing, without working myself up into a state. Yes,I shall be natural at last, I shall suffer more, then less, without drawing any conclusions, I shall pay less heed to myself, I shall be neither hot nor cold any more, I shall be tepid, I shall die tepid, without enthusiasm. I shall not watch myself die, that would spoil everything. Have I watched myself live? Have I ever complained? Then why rejoice now? I am content, necessarily, but not to the point of clapping my hands. I was always content, knowing I would be repaid. There he is now, my old debtor. Shall I then fall on his neck? I shall not answer any more questions. I shall even try no t to ask myself any more. While waiting I shall tell myself stories, if I can. They will not be the same kind of stories as hitherto, that is all . They will be neither beautiful nor ugly, they will be calm, there will be no ugliness or beauty or fever in them any more, they will be almost lifeless, like the teller. What was that I said? It does not matter. I look forward to their giving me great satisfaction, some satisfaction. I am satisfied, there, I have enough, I am repaid, I need nothing more. Let me say before I go any further that I forgive nobody. I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name. Enough for this evening. This time I know where I am going, it is no, longer the ancient night, the recent night.

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