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Samuel Beckett: L’innommable (The Unnamable)

L’innommable (The Unnamable) is the final book in the trilogy that also includes Molloy and Malone Dies. All three were originally written in French and translated into English by the author.

This book starts with Where now? Who now? When now? and ends with I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on. The”hero” of this book, if we can call him that, not only has no name, he has no body, he has no I. He just sits there – at least we think he does – bemoaning his existence, his identity, even his language. He is not entirely alone (else there would have been no book, no tale to tell) as he tries to create possible identities for himself – Basil, Mahood, Worm – but none of them works. He refers to the characters of Beckett’s other novels (All these Murphys, Molloys and Malones, as he calls them, though Mercier, Moran and others are mentioned) but he has no time for them, though they may well be identities of himself. As the Unnamable/Beckett concludes that’s all words, never wake, all words. We are stuck in our dream and all we have is words to get us out and even they won’t do the trick.

Publishing history

First published in French 1952 by Editions de Minuit
First published in English 1959 by John Calder