Flann O'Brien

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At Swim-One-Thread

Jordan (Jordan), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 02:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

[He removes his battered, shapeless workingman's cloth cap and awkwardly places it over his heart...] Let us always remember and never forget Let's have a heated debate about At Swim-Two-Birds.

Aimless (Aimless), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 03:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

course he wrote some other books too eh!

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 04:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Could a Mod add a Spoiler Alert to the title so's I can make an observation about The Third Policeman's huge influence on twist endings in second-rate movies?

I Supersize Disaster (noodle vague), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 05:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Hmmmm. SPOILER ALERT!! Will that do? If not, I could look up the HTML for increasing the point size, turning the font red, and giving it a 'blink' attribute. Please don't make me do that. I beg of you.

Aimless (Aimless), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 15:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i still haven't read my copy of 'the third policeman' but i don't care if you ruin it for me!

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 15:55 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I watched The Machinist the other night, you see, and after thinking "Oh God it's going to be another bloody Jacob's Ladder/Sixth Sense no-surprise-whatsoever twist ending" I thought about The Third Policeman, and though I'd guess there are books that predate it that use the same plot device, I doubt if anything ever used it so elegantly and with such a weird combination of humour and horror.

Not that plot is the first, second or even third thing you'd read Flann O'Brien for. His journalism as Myles na Gopaleen might even be the best writing he did.

I Supersize Disaster (noodle vague), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 17:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Is that available in book form? I loved At Swim-Two-Birds. Need more. Why haven't I read The Third Policeman? Because the title makes me think of Graham Greene? If so, why haven't I read The Third Policeman?
A bit of Flann is my reading plan.

Øystein (Øystein), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 18:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I would rate At Swim-Two-Birds as the work that revealed his peculiar genius, but The Third Policeman as his most all-around satisfying work.

As I have said in another thread, I am personally very partial to The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor, a work which I recently saw dismissed as hack work by some critic (Wm. Gass, if I recall correctly), but who also was predictably enthusiastic about ASTB and 3rdP.

I must demur from his opinion, however positively stated it may have been. While The Hard Life is not mined from precisely the same vein as his better-praised books, I find it deeply humorous, and the keel of it just as deep and well-laid as his best. I would describe it as a hard, strong grasp upon the nose of his native land, followed by a steady anti-clockwise twist. Perhaps Gass has none of the Irish in him and couldn't see the full quality of the humor or how well aimed it was.

Joyce wrote Dubliners and Portrait before Ulysses and the Wake, setting this up as the normative sequence or progression in the eyes of critics. O'Brien started right out with ASTB and only later wrote Hard Life, which sequence then gives critics a wrong impression of regression because it doesn't match Joyce's way of doing things. The only O'Brien book that merits (in my opinion) that rap is The Dalkey Archive, his last and sadly, also his weakest work.

Aimless (Aimless), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 19:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I like The Hard Life fine too. It doesn't have the fireworks of the other stuff, but it has plenty of funny, and beautiful observation.

I Supersize Disaster (noodle vague), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 20:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i'm v fond of 'the poor mouth', talk about that one

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 20:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Don't be shy then. Give it a whirl yourself.

Aimless (Aimless), Tuesday, 5 September 2006 20:56 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I seem to recall a gone missing part on the other thread where our man the pinefox cast doubt on the tipsheet and the **CAST IRON PLUNGERS** in ASTB

My Little Ruud Book (Ken L), Thursday, 7 September 2006 01:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm only about 20 pgs into ASTB, but is the wordiness (in the "always use a big word when a smaller one would do" sense) supposed to be a parody of how a wise-ass college student would write?

Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 7 September 2006 12:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Amongst other things, yeah. Also a certain Irish addiction to gigantism (also mocked in the "Cyclops" chapter of Ulysses) akin to the "everything's big in Texas" mentality. And folk tale exaggeration in general.

Why does my IQ changes? (noodle vague), Thursday, 7 September 2006 14:17 (twelve years ago) Permalink

There are several books of his collected newspaper writing, of which I stand in awe. I can't imagine a contemporary columnist packing in so much wit and reference at such a high level, or being allowed to do so by a contemporary editor.

Paul Eater (eater), Friday, 8 September 2006 14:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
I'm about 30 pages from the end of At Swim-Two-Birds and it's gotten a lot funnier as it goes along.

I'm very curious to know if my co-workers were feeling it (book club discussion on Wed., I think we're going to go to an Irish pub for propriety's sake).

Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 25 September 2006 13:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm reading ASTB as well Jordan, but am only 50 pages or so into it (the wild west stuff). Finding it funny, so that bodes well as I get further in.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 26 September 2006 14:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Updike on Flann:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2008/02/11/080211crbo_books_updike

scott seward, Sunday, 10 February 2008 02:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

I heart Brendan Gleeson but really??? Am not at all sure.

Hongro Horace (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 16:58 (eight years ago) Permalink

yeah likewise. vanity disaster project.

well, prob not disaster but certainly can't see it shining

k¸ (darraghmac), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 16:59 (eight years ago) Permalink

worse case scenario it's a crap film you won't have to see. gleeson is a great actor anyway.

no time for the prussian death cult (nakhchivan), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:17 (eight years ago) Permalink

I haven't watched the show, but wasn't there renewed interest in Flann when the TV show Lost mentioned The Third Policeman?

Poldark City (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:19 (eight years ago) Permalink

Only saw In Bruges the other week and was strongly reminded of The Third Policeman. It's still mostly brilliant tho.

Hongro Horace (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:20 (eight years ago) Permalink

I've seen the 60s movie of Ulysses btw and it's not dreadful, just pointless.

Hongro Horace (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:20 (eight years ago) Permalink

I'm excited, actually - like In Bruges.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

This is quite exciting in a way!

Trying to work out what can be BAD about such a thing, I think it is that it (the bad film, when it's bad) somehow supplants and displaces the great book, in the distracted public memory or something, even though you don't want to let this affect you and may affect to ignore it entirely. And esp this is bad if the film is very different in plot etc.

But then such bad things are not that bad, compared to life's really bad things.

And the film might not even be bad.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 17:57 (eight years ago) Permalink

I will say that the project doesn't seem utterly impossible, but the chances of success seem fairly remote. A lot of things happen in ASTB; it often bursts with life and incident. And ASTB has a certain coherence, achieved through its consistent tone and playfulness. But a coherent plot is nowhere to be found and was never contemplated by the author as a necessity.

In order to "work" as a feature film, ASTB would almost certainly require the imposition upon it of a more coherent plot, including both a first and a final act. Once you have imposed a coherent plot, you have probably driven a stake into the heart of the book.

I wish them well.

Aimless, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 18:20 (eight years ago) Permalink

He could go the Naked Lunch or Tristram Shandy route and make it a film about the book, since it's often a book about books itself.

Hongro Horace (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 7 September 2010 18:37 (eight years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

i am reading the third policeman, which i have not done before.

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

gj

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:36 (seven years ago) Permalink

incredible book imo

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:36 (seven years ago) Permalink

yeah it is a good one

call all destroyer, Monday, 10 October 2011 00:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

I was at a bookseller's convention once and the dalkey rep there (the book's publisher) said that this was the publisher's highest selling book by far because it was featured for 3 secs in the show Lost

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:40 (seven years ago) Permalink

i've read lots of compendium myles na gcopaleen stuff but never his longer works, and am going in blind tbh.

enjoying it v much so far

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:41 (seven years ago) Permalink

i would like to point out that i've not been prompted by lost, tbf. there's been a lot made of o'brien the past few weeks in the irish times due to the centenary of his birth and it seemed time

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

at swim two big bottomed birds all over the newsie wewsies

nakhchivan, Monday, 10 October 2011 00:46 (seven years ago) Permalink

i'm unpacking queen, o'brien, obviously my own post and, bizarrely, whiney g

Did i miss or misappropriate anything

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

i like how i was v confident in predicting gleeson's failure to produce a satisfactory filmic version of a book i haven't read upthread, vmic that

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

lol

nakhchivan, Monday, 10 October 2011 00:52 (seven years ago) Permalink

mathers-like refusal of everything

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 00:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

Third Policeman = awesome
Poor Mouth = much less awesome

nostormo, Monday, 10 October 2011 01:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

Thought this revive would be about the 100th anniversary: http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/100-myles/

ATSB is my favourite book of all time but for my shame I have never read anything else by FO'B. I do have an unread copy of An Béal Bocht lying around somewhere...

psychedelicatessen (seandalai), Monday, 10 October 2011 01:27 (seven years ago) Permalink

well the centenary was involved alright

Read 'miles of myles' maybe 15 years ago and always meant to look further but tbf robert jordan happened and y'know yourself.

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 01:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

I think An Béal Bocht would be a lot funnier to someone who spent many, many years mastering the Oirish Tongue via the solemn study of several dozen memoirs written by simple villagers from the Gaeltacht, whose like we shall never see again, I might add, nor, belike, their little curraghs and wee piggies.

Aimless, Monday, 10 October 2011 01:56 (seven years ago) Permalink

i think i could dig it, istr a couple of scenes he wrote lampooning eg synge, o'casey and poss. yeats's depictions of prataí munching ochóners that were on-the-mark

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 01:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

I have not encountered a MILES OF MYLES.

the pinefox, Monday, 10 October 2011 08:17 (seven years ago) Permalink

i think that was it, at least

at-zing-two-boards (darraghmac), Monday, 10 October 2011 09:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

this may be heresy and i suspect it's an exceptional case, but did anyone not particularly enjoy "at swim two birds"?

i found parts of it funny but other parts just kinda read like madcap paddywhackery...and actually like a very irish mockery of anything/everything. in a bad way though, sort of anti-intellectual.

When a German communicates, you listen (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 11 October 2011 21:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

there's a bit of talk about it here -
Let's have a heated debate about At Swim-Two-Birds
I'm not a huge fan of it. idk if it's anti-intellectual - it's sceptical about students (& yes, o'brien's always ready to take a pop at that kind of intellectual life), but lots of its parody is more than affectionate - like I think he's trying to have it both ways with the Finn Mac Cool stuff and bardic poetry, writing something rather lovely while having fun (I don't think he pulls it off) - all the 'pint of plain' business coming right afterwards is meant to be a bit dismal & cloddish as well as funny (that O'Brien thing again of loving & recreating irish speech patterns, while seeming to be in despair at being stuck on an island with all this plain ppl nonsense (yet never making an effort to get away.))

I think his love for Joyce shows what he doesn't want to just mock - not something intellectual, exactly, but intelligent & imaginative labour.

you don't exist in the database (woof), Tuesday, 11 October 2011 22:07 (seven years ago) Permalink

well it's just cynicism, isn't it? Not even anti-anything so much as sceptical of what's behind it or where it'll end up. It's hardly a peculiarly irish trait but it's fairly deeply embedded in the national culture imo.

shite pele (darraghmac), Tuesday, 11 October 2011 23:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

i dunno, i don't think it's cynicism. it's more sort of mockery, nudge-winkery. i really like the pint of plain stuff. i read "the death of virgil" about the same time as "at swim..." and i sort of was like "well classical references are actually pretty great".

i agree unlikely he was majorly hateful about that kind of thing, but sort of like "let's have a laugh at this stuff come on lads" is a bit irritatingly irish.

When a German communicates, you listen (LocalGarda), Thursday, 13 October 2011 22:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

i'd stil classify even the mockery as cynical but yeah it wasn't poisonous, just a bit of roughhousing. Wasn't he renowned as the scourge of the lit&deb in his day at ucd?

shite pele (darraghmac), Friday, 14 October 2011 11:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

i think like all curmudgeons there are a few knee-jerk conservative positions that probably struck him at one time as being particularly clever or insightful or challopsy and which hardened into pure unbending grumpiness, the kind that would make you wince if he were actually saying it to you. i particularly remember him coming back, again and again to the idea that "people who demand equality are always the people who least deserve it" or somesuch poisonous phrasing of this sentiment

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Friday, 14 October 2011 11:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

that said i love the guy; even these issues i have with him are like what oliver wendell holmes described as reassuring prejudices, that one can rub one's back against, the way a cow rubs his against a tree.

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Friday, 14 October 2011 11:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

i spend fifteen years in therapy and a dude on the internet nails it in one sentence

shite pele (darraghmac), Friday, 14 October 2011 12:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

while seeming to be in despair at being stuck on an island with all this plain ppl nonsense (yet never making an effort to get away.)

He couldn't get away. He was doing pretty well for himself as a young man in the civil service, but suddenly had to support a family of 12. His brother says doing that was his greatest work.

Despair at being stuck, yes. Reading his biography killed a lot of the funniness for me.

alimosina, Friday, 14 October 2011 14:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

is jem casey's much-admired hackery for the working man not close to sean o`casey?

bob_sleigher (darraghmac), Tuesday, 28 May 2013 22:03 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Yes, I think that's the most direct inspiration for the character.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 June 2013 15:42 (five years ago) Permalink

ty pf!

dj hollingsworth vs dj perry (darraghmac), Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:28 (five years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Might read this again, slower

mundane peaceable username (darraghmac), Monday, 22 July 2013 12:00 (five years ago) Permalink

What, this thread? It's worth it.

Tommy McTommy (Tom D.), Monday, 22 July 2013 12:01 (five years ago) Permalink

ASTB

Just re-read the thread, and the others on FOB and STB

Im assuming the f. mcewe post was pinefox. genius.

mundane peaceable username (darraghmac), Monday, 22 July 2013 12:11 (five years ago) Permalink

Man, I don't even think I have a copy of ASTB anymore

Tommy McTommy (Tom D.), Monday, 22 July 2013 12:15 (five years ago) Permalink

I left my copy open and they all got out

mundane peaceable username (darraghmac), Monday, 22 July 2013 12:36 (five years ago) Permalink

:D

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 22 July 2013 14:21 (five years ago) Permalink

at swim two big bottomed birds all over the newsie wewsies

― nakhchivan, Sunday, October 9, 2011 5:46 PM (1 year ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Monday, 22 July 2013 15:35 (five years ago) Permalink

Today of all days

mundane peaceable username (darraghmac), Monday, 22 July 2013 15:44 (five years ago) Permalink

ever read this book, darragh? its quite flann-esque

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c7/SombreroFallout.jpg

Old Boy In Network (Michael B), Monday, 22 July 2013 21:51 (five years ago) Permalink

no but more than happy with recs ta

mundane peaceable username (darraghmac), Monday, 22 July 2013 21:51 (five years ago) Permalink

The most unexpected book to remind me of the 3rd policeman was the cyberiad by lem. Could they have been aware of each other?

brodie positivity!! (wins), Monday, 22 July 2013 22:06 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I'm only about 20 pgs into ASTB, but is the wordiness (in the "always use a big word when a smaller one would do" sense) supposed to be a parody of how a wise-ass college student would write?
― Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 7 September 2006 12:47 (7 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Amongst other things, yeah. Also a certain Irish addiction to gigantism (also mocked in the "Cyclops" chapter of Ulysses) akin to the "everything's big in Texas" mentality. And folk tale exaggeration in general.
― Why does my IQ changes? (noodle vague), Thursday, 7 September 2006 14:17 (7 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

reading again, astb and thread, and I came to note that Finns opening maundering on music that is good to ear is surely a play at Austin Clarke, and while reading the above I was p struck (nagging at me as it was anyway, having just read it) that the gigantism, the repetitions of metaphor/comparison points in the first Finn section are very likely direct plays at the similarly bounded earthiness of the source material

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Tuesday, 5 August 2014 23:24 (four years ago) Permalink

sorry phone swallowed that post...

anyway reading what ppl, especially Ronan, disliked about astb up thread, idk might it make a difference in reading it to consider the breadth and deftness and adaptability in aping so well all of these Irish literary styles that seems, to me anyway, to be happening here. I'm sure there's more I missing besides, perhaps woof or pf or someone could suggest a full list of the lampooned in the work.

is this empty sanitism (darraghmac), Tuesday, 5 August 2014 23:30 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

i don't read novels in dialect

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 19 September 2015 23:40 (three years ago) Permalink

I read 'em with my bowl of Froot Loops and cold milk.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 20 September 2015 09:30 (three years ago) Permalink

good day for authors named flann something on ILB

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 20 September 2015 09:46 (three years ago) Permalink

have never heard of that, but looks interesting... shades of dostoyevsky's bobok

no lime tangier, Sunday, 20 September 2015 11:57 (three years ago) Permalink

That is definitely in the right spirit

good day for authors named flann something on ILB

Indeed. Had to resist urge to start a parody about Flann Rice, among others.

The Starry-Eyed Messenger Service (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 20 September 2015 12:20 (three years ago) Permalink

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GzumJh2kL.jpg

mick signals, Sunday, 20 September 2015 22:01 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

i'm 60 pages into the third policeman and somewhat drunk. flann o'brien is the holy grail

imago, Monday, 23 October 2017 20:59 (one year ago) Permalink

An excellent primer for astb but I maintain my position above, you need to read a bit of Sean O'Casey et al first

Gary Synaesthesia (darraghmac), Monday, 23 October 2017 21:16 (one year ago) Permalink

Kind of an ideal state of being imago has going there, tbh

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 23 October 2017 21:16 (one year ago) Permalink

all noted

imago, Monday, 23 October 2017 21:36 (one year ago) Permalink

this shit is acatalectic
a-c-a-t-a-l-e-c-t-i-c

imago, Thursday, 26 October 2017 14:26 (one year ago) Permalink

It's catholic fyi

Gary Synaesthesia (darraghmac), Thursday, 26 October 2017 14:54 (one year ago) Permalink

It wasn't Catholic enough. He became afraid of it.

alimosina, Monday, 30 October 2017 22:41 (one year ago) Permalink

OK I got to the guessing-names bit that Father Ted obviously ripped off and was dissolved in laughter on the tube. I wonder how much of Father Ted is just reconsidered O'Brien...

imago, Friday, 3 November 2017 17:54 (one year ago) Permalink

Great holy suffering indiarubber bowls of brown stirabout!

Terry Micawber (Tom D.), Friday, 3 November 2017 17:58 (one year ago) Permalink

Music tie-in here.

alimosina, Friday, 3 November 2017 18:48 (one year ago) Permalink

I think it's more likely the novel steals from Ted tbh

Gary Synaesthesia (darraghmac), Friday, 3 November 2017 19:23 (one year ago) Permalink

well was a rug ever pulled

imago, Wednesday, 8 November 2017 16:48 (one year ago) Permalink

six months pass...

Have read ten pages of ASTB and it is obviously some kind of personal grail

the list of birds alone has me forever

imago, Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:16 (seven months ago) Permalink

well, yes

gneb farts (darraghmac), Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:46 (seven months ago) Permalink

the maritime wren!

imago, Sunday, 13 May 2018 09:50 (seven months ago) Permalink

read, my child, and learn of the marvels it contains

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 13 May 2018 16:10 (seven months ago) Permalink


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