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Mercier and Camier Paperback – January 20, 1994

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Samuel Beckett:
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), one of the leading literary and dramatic figures of the twentieth century, was born in Foxrock, Ireland and attended Trinity University in Dublin. In 1928, he visited Paris for the first time and fell in with a number of avant-garde writers and artists, including James Joyce. In 1937, he settled in Paris permanently. Beckett wrote in both English and French, though his best-known works are mostly in the latter language. A prolific writer of novels, short stories, and poetry, he is remembered principally for his works for the theater, which belong to the tradition of the Theater of the Absurd and are characterized by their minimalist approach, stripping drama to its barest elements. In 1969, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and commended for having "transformed the destitution of man into his exaltation." Beckett died in Paris in 1989.

At the age of seventy-six he said: "With diminished concentration, loss of memory, obscured intelligence... the more chance there is for saying something closest to what one really is. Even though everything seems inexpressible, there remains the need to express. A child need to make a sand castle even though it makes no sense. In old age, with only a few grains of sand, one has the greatest possibility." (from Playwrights at Work, ed. by George Plimpton, 2000)

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 20, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802132359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802132352
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,418,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He was educated at Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1927. His made his poetry debut in 1930 with Whoroscope and followed it with essays and two novels before World War Two. He wrote one of his most famous plays, Waiting for Godot, in 1949 but it wasn't published in English until 1954. Waiting for Godot brought Beckett international fame and firmly established him as a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. Beckett continued to write prolifically for radio, TV and the theatre until his death in 1989.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written in 1946, "Mercier and Camier" was Samuel Beckett's first postwar novel and his first in French. "Mercier and Camier" captures the time of depression and indecision in Beckett's life. It continues the line of vagabond heroes which begins with Belacqua in "More Pricks Than Kicks" and continues with "Murphy" and "Watt." They are the first of his vaudevillian couples, and this novel is in many ways the precursor of "Waiting for Godot." If there is a chronological line of development in his writing, "Mercier and Camier" surely marks the first tentative approach toward what Beckett calls the "mature" fiction of "Molloy," "Malone Dies" and "The Unnamable." In the trilogy, Beckett relentlessly reduces his characters from pitiful creatures with few possessions--a hat, a pot, a stub of pencil--to voices, who have only the inner torments of their past life to sustain their present existence, doomed to repeat themselves until finally, even the voice, their last vestige of humanity, is stilled. There is no discernible setting, no tie with any real existence, and seemingly, no plot.
In "Mercier and Camier," the journey shapes the plot as the two men parade on an endless quest. Despite its somberness, it is in some ways a warm and funny book, occasionally tinged with stinging sarcasm. There are secondary characters, skillfully and swiftly delineated, so bizarre that even the two oddities of the title are struck by their madness.
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Format: Paperback
*Mercier and Camier* may be my favorite work by Beckett--if not, then it's certainly on the shortlist. Indeed, it's one of my favorite novels of all time. Written around the period of *Waiting for Godot,* *Mercier and Camier* bears a good deal of similarity to Beckett's legendary play, except the two curmudgeonly protagonists of M&C are walking instead of waiting on futility.

Decrepit, degenerate, down-at-the-heels, Mercier and Camier are two mutually antagonistic friends who decide to set off one day on a journey. They're looking for something--or somewhere--but what they aren't exactly sure. They have a broken umbrella, one raincoat, a bicycle, and a sack between them. At one point or other, they lose, regain, and lose again even these scant belongings. Their laconic dialogue is peppered with insults, complaints, truncated rants, sarcasm, and, most of all, a confusion bordering on out-and-out senile dementia. They no sooner leave one station of their journey then they decide they must double back. It's always raining, or about to rain. As in a nightmare, for every two steps forward they seem to take two back. They don't get anywhere; which is apropos. They had no clue where they were going from the start.

Along the way, the two friends have various fallings-out and reconciliations, all over trivial matters. They come across various outlandish characters with whom they interact in the most oblique and frustrating of ways. They commit what should be a shocking act of senseless and unpremeditated violence which causes them to become fugitives--if they weren't fugitives already.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If it weren't written by Beckett it would be a cheap rip-off of Godot. But seeing as it is Beckett's, and was written before the great play, it is interesting and sheds light on things... well a bit of light.

For a Beckett fan it is a must. If you don't love Waiting For Godot, it will bore you.
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By corey eddy on December 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Format: Paperback
"Mercier and Camier" is the kind of book that people say is great when inside they know it's pretty much terrible. Samuel Beckett gives us a plotless tale of two guys walking around a city, acting like idiots, taking pleasure from a woman's gruesome car accident, and then killing a cop. Unlike comparable 'bad guy' protagonists - such as in "A Clockwork Orange" - Mercier and Camier are not interesting, complex, sympathetic, memorable, or worth our time. And make no mistake, these guys are bad - the fact that they act like brain-damaged five-year-olds doesn't change that.
I think Beckett intended them to represent the mixture of boredom, madness, and detachment which is an essential part of most people's psyche (especially the thoughtful), but he does not achieve this goal in the least. There are a million books which express the desperation and hollowness of life, with a tinge of humor (and indeed there are a few moments of this book which are humorous, or at least attempts at humor). This is perhaps one of the most overrated of this sort of book.
Beckett's writing style is unique and, for the most part, good. My favorite line in this book came at the end of a lengthy descriptive paragraph: "End of descriptive passage." But the actual substance of this book does not live up to the promise provided by the style. While I tend to love the strange and the unique in art (especially books about people who seem at once hideously abornal and yet universal), "Mercier and Camier" proves that not all books about distinctively bizarre characters are good.
You'd be better off seeing "Waiting for Godot," or better yet, read something by Shakespeare.
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