Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Manuscripts | Publications | Reviews


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Typescript of Brian Coffey‘s possibly unpublished review of Beckett‘s Murphy, initialed Paris, March 1938.

An excerpt from it reads: “ . . . this time no venetian hair of tempered glass sliding into the sacred fount but the gash of the dirk, the hard new style.”

An anonymous reviewer in the London Times Literary Supplement of 12 March 1938 emphasized the importance of Beckett’s method in imparting to Murphy its “curious flavour” of an almost surreal parallel universe in which comic effect is achieved through “verbal dexterity” rather than situation. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas reviewed Murphy for the New English Weekly (17 March 1938) and found it “difficult, serious, and wrong” even as he acknowledged its qualities of “energy, hilarity, irony, and comic invention.” The Irish playwright and novelist, Kate O’Brien, reviewing the novel for the Spectator (25 March 1938), cited the influence of Rabelais, Sterne, and Joyce and urged her audience to take the book on its own terms so as to be rewarded with “a glorious, wild story . . . starred all over with a milky way of sceptic truths.”