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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mercier and Camier (1970) by Samuel Beckett

Book Review
Mercier and Camier (1970)
by Samuel Beckett

   Samuel Beckett wrote Mercier and Camier, in French, in the mid 1940's, but it wasn't until 1974 that he translated it into English and had it published (he published it in the original French in 1970.)  There isn't much that is hugely notable about Mercier and Camier in relation to his other seven books on the first 1001 Books list, except for the appearance of Watt, the protagonist in his novel Watt, near the end.   Mercier and Camier are two companions, struggling to escape a nameless city (which approximates Dublin).  They are beset by "obstacles" of the sort one expects from a Beckett novel: It rain! They go into a pub! They talk to a prostitute.  To be fair, one of them does murder a police officer near the end.

  The most notable thing about Mercier and Camier were the lengths I went to find a copy- when I flew to Paris earlier this month, I made a beeline for Shakespeare and Company, the famous English language bookstore.  Reasonably, I figured that if any book store in the world would carry a copy of Mercier and Camier, it would be Shakespeare and Company.   And although they had nearly everything Samuel Beckett ever wrote, a copy of Mercier and Campier was not to be had.  Eventually I resorted to having the San Diego Public Library pull it's copy out of storage- and was surprised to learn that it was a first edition of the original 1974 pressing by Grove.

  That leaves one more Samuel Beckett title on the 1001 Books list- the 1983 "work of prose" Worstward Ho.

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