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The Dalkey Archive (Irish Literature)by Flann O'Brien
Synopses & Reviews
Hailed as "the best comic fantasy since Tristram Shandy" upon its publication in 1964, The Dalkey Archive is Flann O'Brien's fifth and final novel; or rather (as O'Brien wrote to his editor), "The book is not meant to be a novel or anything of the kind but a study in derision, various writers with their styles, and sundry modes, attitudes and cults being the rats in the cage."
Among the targets of O'Brien's derision are religiosity, intellectual abstractions, J. W. Dunne's and Albert Einstein's views on time and relativity, and the lives and works of Saint Augustine and James Joyce, both of whom have speaking parts in the novel. Bewildering? Yes, but as O'Brien insists, "a measure of bewilderment is part of the job of literature."
Set in the late 1940s in the village of Dalkey (some twelve miles south of Dublin), The Dalkey Archive also includes in its cast the mad scientist De Selby (featured in O'Brien's novel The Third Policeman), the magniloquent Sergeant Fottrell (whose "molly-cule theory" holds that a man can turn into a bicycle), and the local da Vinci, a looderamawn named Teague McGettigan. Doing his damnedest to find order in this metaphysical chaos is Mick Shaughnessy, who--with the aid of strong drink, his friend Hackett, and Mary, the young woman for whom they both compete--undergoes a crisis of faith both sublime and ridiculous.
"Wit, humor, satire, the exact fall of a Dublin syllable, the ear for the local turn, the flight of fancy that can spin into a Dublin joke or a Limerick limerick--all these are his."--The New York Times
Dalkey Archive [Press] has made one reader very happy and likely will intoxicate many others with Flann O'Brien's fine brew of malt, salt, air, heady ideas and rich, ripe prose.The undoubted humor of [The Dalkey Archive] derives as much from Mr. O'Brien's facile use of language as from the play of his fertile imagination . . . not to be missed.It is increasingly clear that O'Brien is Ireland's finest novelist after Joyce.
"The Dalkey Archive" is O'Brien's fifth and final novel — in the author's words, "a study in derision". Among the targets of that derision are religiosity, intellectual abstractions, J.W. Dunne's and Albert Einstein's views on time and relativity, and the lives of Saint Augustine and James Joyce, both of whom have speaking parts in the novel. Set in the late 1940s in the village of Dalkey (some twelve miles south of Dublin), "The Dalkey Archive" joins O'Brien's renowned comic works At Swim-two-birds, The Third Policeman, et al, as among the great works of Irish fiction of the century.
About the Author
Flann O'Brien, whose real name was Brian O'Nolan, also wrote under the pen name of 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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