“A comedy of high style, terser and, I think, funnier than any of his other novels.” A. Alvarez, The Observer (London)
Mercier and Camier
978-0-8021-4444-7 • $14.00 • Paperback • Jan. 2011
Mercier and Camier was originally written in French in 1946, but it was not until 1970 that Beckett allowed its publication in Paris. In the many critical discussions and volumes which Beckett's work has inspired, Mercier and Camier already occupies an important place and is considered one of Beckett's funniest books, rich in both verbal and situational humor as it records the comings and goings of Mercier and Camieranother addition to the repertoire of Beckett's pairs.
In the London Observer, A. Alvarez has called Mercier and Camier “a comedy of high style, terser and, I think, funnier than any of his other novels.” He summarizes the events in the novel as follows: “The two heroes meet and, after much hesitation, set off on a vague journey which only twice manages to get them briefly clear of town. They spend a good deal of time in bars and with a friendly prostitute called Helen. They kill a policeman. They curse God and their various ailments and indulge in a little metaphysics. Finally, they drift apart and are brought together again at the close by Watt, making a useful guest appearance from his previous incarnation in Beckett's oeuvre.”
Mercier and Camier sparkle with music-hall dialogue; the two heroes are inexplicably provided with vaudeville propsa sack, an umbrella, a raincoatbut are soon deprived of these possessions. At every level, Mercier and Camier is a haunting work which nonetheless is a highly entertaining, in parts hilarious, addition to the Beckett cannon, written with a descriptive prose of original and unusual force and beauty.