Sunday, 19 July 2009

Murphy by Samuel Beckett

I have a soft spot for Beckett, abetted by performing Krapp's Last Tape on stage when I was seventeen. He is, I feel, better known for his plays, in particular Waiting for Godot and Endgame, however, he also wrote several books, two of which I obtained while on a trip to Dublin with my father back in 1994.

In the novel, Murphy has studied under a man called Neary, who could "stop his heart more or less whenever he liked and keep it stopped, within reasonable limits, for as long as he liked." At this next point in the book, Neary is in the Dublin General Post Office, beating his head against the buttocks of the statue of Cú Chulainn dying. Rescued by another former student, Needle Wylie, Neary comes to on the tram, thinking he's in the pub.

"Is it the saloon," said Neary, "Or the jugs and bottles?" ...It dawned on Neary that he was not where he thought. He rose. "What is the finest tram in Europe," he said, "To a man consumed by sobriety?" He made the street under his own power with Wylie close behind him. "But by Mooney's clock, " said Wylie, "The sad news is two thirty three."

It is, of course, three minutes into Holy Hour, and another fifty seven minutes before they can get a drink. Fortunately, Wylie finds a cafe that serves coffee fortified with three star brandy... I have to confess that I have not actually finished the book. A rail ticket from February 1996 sits between pages 120 and 121.


  1. Chaz,
    wherever you were travelling to in 1996 was not far enough away! 13years on you could take the same journey to complete the novel? ;-)

  2. The ticket is for Waterloo from Guildford, so I should take it with me to work seeing as I do the same journey every day now...