At Swim-Two-Birds

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Dalkey Archive Press, 1939 - Fiction - 315 pages
22 Reviews
A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - piccoline - LibraryThing

Don't be scared off by the fact that O'Brien's name gets tossed around with Beckett and Joyce, and definitely don't be scared off by the word "metafiction", because this book is hilarious and hard to ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - figre - LibraryThing

Reading Flann O'Brien always makes me feel I am on the edge – on the edge of understanding, on the edge of sanity, on the edge of enjoying myself. That is, O'Brien's dizzying approach to "story" and ... Read full review

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John I. Saeed
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About the author (1939)

Writer Brian O'Nolan was born on October 5, 1911. He graduated from University College, Dublin. This gifted Irish writer had three identities: Brian O'Nolan, an Irish civil servant and administrator; Myles Copaleen, columnist for the Irish Times, poet and author of An Beal Bocht (The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life, 1941), a satire in Gaelic on the Gaelic revival; and Flann O'Brien, playwright and avant-garde comic novelist. His masterpiece, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939), went almost unrecognized in its time. This novel, which plays havoc with the conventional novel form, is about a man writing a book about characters in turn writing about him. O'Brien starts off with three separate openings. The Third Policeman (1967), funny but grim, plunges into the world of the dead, though one is not immediately aware that the protagonist is no longer living. He died on April 1, 1966.

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