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The Complete Novels (Everyman's Library)

af Flann O'Brien

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340356,585 (4.29)6
In the five novels by Ireland's greatest comic writer we can explore the full range of his invention, from the multi-layered madness of At Swim-Two-Birds to the piercing realism of The Hard Life and the surreal logic of The Third Policeman. This is a world where bicycles listen to conversations, inventors search formethods of 'diluting' water, and characters play truant while novelists sleep; a world where spiteful fairies wreak havoc and heroes from legend blunder into suburban sitting-rooms. This is recognizably the Ireland of Joyce and Beckett - rowdy, high-spirited, by turns sensual and and cerebral -transformed by O'Brien's unique vision.… (mere)
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Wonderful stuff and nonsense. Don't expect to understand the plots of these novels - in some cases don't look for any kind of plot. But if you are looking for a readable, highly entertaining and sometime very funny alternative to your secret inability to finish any work by James Joyce, look no farther . . . . ( )
1 stem NaggedMan | Dec 15, 2012 |
Containing the five novels by Flann O’Brien, one of many pseudonyms of the Irish writer Brian O’Nolan (1911 – 1966), this volume is a solid introduction to his fiction. The bizarreness, humor and fantasy in the novels are striking. At Swim-Two-Birds contains such oddities as a Good Fairy contemplating sex with humans, and a writer that has remained in bed for twenty years and only reads books with green covers.

In The Third Policeman a gentleman farmer who has devoted his life to studying a character known only as de Selby - who is perhaps the world’s worst philosopher, physicist and other things - embarks on a surreal journey after helping to murder a man for money to publish his treatise – on de Selby. One theme, which reoccurs in The Dalkey Archive, is the idea that bicycles and humans can take on each other’s properties.

Beginning with the narrator’s name, Bonaparte Coonassa, The Poor Mouth is the most straight-forward humorous of the novels. Originally written in Gaelic, it parodies and makes much of the Gaelic culture and language.

In The Hard Life two brothers try to make their way in life after being either abandoned or orphaned. With its Horatio Algerish elements, it is the only one of the novels to not delve into the realm of fantasy.

de Selby appears in the flesh in The Dalkey Archive with a mad plan to rid the earth of oxygen. It also features the reappearance of the Sergeant of The Third Policeman who espouses the bicycle/human transference theory. An elderly and confused James Joyce is also here – attempting to join the priesthood.

The Complete Novels is a handsome book, and contains a helpful introduction, bibliography, and a chronology placing the author’s life in historical context. ( )
1 stem Hagelstein | Jan 13, 2010 |
"The Third Policeman": so droll! Admittedly, I read it after hearing it tied to "Lost" but come on, Desmond. It's better seen as a goofy literary partner to Dylan Thomas and "Pale Fire": a foggy tale about mood and humor, not about mind-benders.

As a bonus, O'Brian's grasp of particle physics isn't entirely outlandish. At this moment, you're just a few electrons away from merging with your chair. ( )
  irisiris | Sep 9, 2008 |
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In the five novels by Ireland's greatest comic writer we can explore the full range of his invention, from the multi-layered madness of At Swim-Two-Birds to the piercing realism of The Hard Life and the surreal logic of The Third Policeman. This is a world where bicycles listen to conversations, inventors search formethods of 'diluting' water, and characters play truant while novelists sleep; a world where spiteful fairies wreak havoc and heroes from legend blunder into suburban sitting-rooms. This is recognizably the Ireland of Joyce and Beckett - rowdy, high-spirited, by turns sensual and and cerebral -transformed by O'Brien's unique vision.

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