“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Murphy sat out of it, as though he were free, in a mew in West Brompton.”
For 3 weeks I have been contemplating on writing a review because I was not sure whether a review will do this book justice. And I mean that because no matter how many reviews of this book will ever be written, it will surely have something that one will miss out, something that one will discover in his own ups and downs gained through his personal and social journey. But having stared at the closed book for what seems to be a long period after I have seemingly detached from its character, I have decided to write on it. I wouldn’t call it a review, but rather an attempt to understanding what I might have misconceived and discovering what I might have not grasped. Or perhaps there is even no deeper meaning in the dark passages of the story like some might have observed it to be. But what is a better quest of enlightenment, no matter its breadth, than the one that makes us think, the one that challenges our intellect and shakes the core of our innate self-fulfilling prophecy?
As most of Beckett’s writings on the wall, Murphy reeks with elbowing one’s way of purposeless journey. His stoic elaborates of characters and passive and imaginary development tries to reach to the ultimate core of a lost way. He doesn’t even hint there might be the right way; a way at all but lack of purpose as the unconscious pursuit of all these faceless people that rush to reach the light, a light being nothing else but a spasm of the momentary. Whether it is Murphy Himself or any other of his pitiful entourage, the purpose is void in all directions. It is very often to distinguish between the characters of the story. They all look alike and they all seem to have the same meaningless self, joined into a single objective of obstruction. They are all the “nothing new”, that tale of freedom that is transferred from generation to generation to be ultimately lost in its quest within a whirlpool of thoughts and dubious aspirations. No wonder why he tries to depict Murphy as having a split personality, “split self”, trying to distinguish between the imaginary and the less meaningful. Every character from Murphy’s groupie couldn’t care less about him, yet they anticipate, if not cherish his every move. Even his lover, Celia, who is gently depicted as a whore, finds in himself an escape from her situation. She pushes him to be someone who he is not only so that she fulfills her selfish desires of getting away of her dead-end street, without acknowledging any of his reflections and needs. In the end, she fulfills her dream of Murphy finding a job to get her off the street. In the end, he finds the peace that he had never sought of looking for – he finds sanity in the sanatorium. He finds madmen that makes all seems sane. He finds nothing in reality, but even that nothing makes him find a purpose that has never existed, a purpose that never started to exist.
Beckett sets aside a whole chapter to describe Murphy’s “mind,” which “pictured itself as a large hollow sphere, hermetically closed to the universe without.” The constant battle between body and mind he struggles with is perhaps the constant battle of finding that balance that could exist in the ideal world in which everyone prays to; a world in which no one believes in if there is not for that fake comfort of someone else they don’t believe in either. For the first time in the novel, I have felt that Murphy found happiness once his ashes were spilt all over the vomit and the stale beer of the pub he had never intended to spread his light upon.
Irrespective of his message, irrespective of the (mis)interpretation of his writing, the twist of words that his writing entails brings the reader in a superfluous state which could be either a confirmation of the struggle within, or perhaps a testimony of the fear that makes us what we are not.
“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Murphy sat out of it, as though he were free, in a mew in West Brompton.” I could have stopped reading at this point, and I would have still felt this was the novel that had educated me the most. For how many times have we felt out of it, as if we were free, and how many more times will be try to comfort ourselves in a beautiful illusion that might not be real?