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At Swim-Two-Birds (Irish Literature)by Flann O'Brien
At Swim-Two-Birds is unlike anything I've ever read: it's Flann O'Brien writing a book about a student who is writing a book about an author named Trellis who writes Westerns. Funny, brilliant, and completely wacky. Perhaps the highest praise came from Dylan Thomas himself, who said, "This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl."
Synopses & Reviews
The story of an Irish college student who — half to amuse himself and half to avoid work — writes an irreverent novel about the figures of Irish myth and legend in which characters come to life and riot against their author. At Swim-Two-Birds is a wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture and has had a major influence on writers coming after O'Brien, including Anthony Burgess, Gilbert Sorrentino, and William H. Gass.
"That's a real writer, with the true comic spirit. A really funny book." James Joyce
"At Swim-Two-Birds has remained in my mind ever since it first appeared as one of the best books of our century. A book in a thousand...in the line of Ulysses and Tristram Shandy." Graham Greene
"Flann O'Brien is unquestionably a major author. His work, like that of Joyce, is so layered as to be almost Dante-esque....Joyce and Flann O'Brien assault your brain with words, style, magic, madness, and unlimited invention." Anthony Burgess
At Swim-Two-Birdsis both a comedy and a fantasy of such staggering originality that itbaffles description and very nearly beggars our sense of delight.'Tis the odd joke of modern Irish literature--of the three novelistsin its holy trinity, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Flann O'Brien, theeasiest and most accessible of the lot is O'Brien. . . . Flann O'Brienwas too much his own man, Ireland's man, to speak in any but his owntongue.
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.
About the Author
Brian O'Nolan wrote under the pen names of Flann O'Brien and Myles na Gopaleen. He was born in 1911 in County Tyrone. A resident of Dublin, he graduated from University College after a brilliant career as a student (editing a magazine called Blather) and joined the Civil Service, in which he eventually attained a senior position. He wrote throughout his life, which ended in Dublin on April 1, 1966. His other novels include The Dalkey Archive, The Third Policeman, The Hard Life, and The Poor Mouth, all available from Dalkey Archive Press. Also available are three volumes of his newspaper columns: "The Best of Myles," "Further Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn," and "At War."
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