(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

“I am in my mother’s room. It is I who live there now. I don’t know how I got there.” The narrative voice first known as Molloy calls himself into existence with such utterances and tries to sustain the reader’s interest as he describes his observation of two possible pursuers noted only as A and C (Abel and Cain, perhaps). He directs his faltering moves back toward his elderly mother, with whom he can communicate only with knuckle-blows to the head, one number for yes, another for no, yet another for “money.” “Composing” himself as he writes, or speaks, Molloy recalls a ritual of sucking pebbles, careful to rotate each of the small rocks through the pockets of his seedy overcoat so as not to suck the same one twice in one day. On another occasion, Molloy pulls from his pocket a miniature sawhorse in silver or silverplate with no recollection of its intended function as a knife-rest at formal dinners in a long-gone bourgeois society.

Riding with increasing difficulty on a bicycle possibly less functional than himself, Molloy runs down a small dog belonging to a woman known only as Lousse, who then detains him for reasons unspecified. Not long thereafter, the narrative viewpoint shifts to that of a certain Jacques Moran, whose fruitless search for Molloy will constitute the second half of the novel. Like Pozzo and Hamm, Moran is authoritative, even cruel, treating his adolescent son much as Pozzo treats his slave, Lucky. Just as Pozzo...

(The entire section is 541 words.)