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Samuel Beckett: Mercier et Camier (Mercier and Camier)

This novel was written in 1946 and accepted by the publisher in 1947 but Beckett then withdrew it and it was not published till 1970. Beckett’s own translation into English did not appear till four years later. Like his previous heroes, Mercier and Camier are tramps, though they are the first pairing, prefiguring Vladimir and Estragon from Waiting for Godot. They are half way between the earlier and later novels – still recognisable humans and not just voices as in the later novels. We follow the two as they make their endless and futile quest. We meet a host of secondary characters. The narrator intervenes with comments. And, like Estragon and Vladimir, they comment on life, they insult one another, they discuss their situation and the other characters in a LaurelandHardyesque manner. They go. They don’t go. They meet Mr. Gast and Watt and the barman. But nothing much happens. It’s a Beckett novel.

Publishing history

First published in French 1970 by Les Editions de Minuit
First published in English 1974 by Grove Press