Flann O'Brien

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O'Brien, Flann,

pseud. for

Brian Ó Nualláin or O'Nolan

(ō nō`lən) 1911–66, Irish novelist and political commentator. Born in County Tyrone and raised in Dublin, he studied at University College, Dublin, entered the Irish civil service in 1937, and formally retired in 1953. From 1940 until his death, he wrote a political column called "Cruiskeen Lawn" for The Irish Times, under the pseudonym of Myles na Gopaleen; his biting, satiric commentaries made him the conscience of the Irish government. Under this name, he also wrote the novel An Be'al Bocht (1941, tr. The Poor Mouth, 1973), a parody of Irish country life. As Flann O'Brien, he published four comic novels in English, all of which display his brilliant abilities at wordplay and absurdist sensibility: At Swim-Two-Birds (1939, repr. 1960), a wildly funny literary send-up widely considered his masterpiece; The Hard Life (1961), a farce; The Dalkey Archive (1964), a satiric fantasy; and the surreal The Third Policeman (1967). He was also the author of a play, Faustus Kelly (1943).


See his Complete Novels (2008) and The Short Fiction of Flann O'Brien (2013, ed. by N. Murphy and K. Hopper); biography by A. Cronin (1998); studies by A. Clissmann (1975), S. Asbee (1991), T. F. Shea (1992), K. Hopper (1995), and K. Donohue (2002).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The Early Years of Brian O'Nolan / Flann O'Brien / Myles na gCopaleen.
Hugh Kenner, "The Fourth Policeman', in Conjuring Complexities: Essays on Flann O'Brien (originally in Kenner's 1995 Historical Fictions), points to the absence of an identifiable Ireland in the book (with no wind, hardly any rain, and no Irish words).
More recently, Declan Kiberd accused the Stage-Irishman side of Myles na Gopaleen (with the later spelling used by O'Brien, after Boucicault) of entrapping Flann O'Brien in the limitations of the colonial subject towards his metropolitan center: when Myles "succumbed to the temptation to placate his newspaper audience," Flann O'Brien took on the role of licensed jester, which led him to "exploit, rather than express, his material" (512), in the hope of reaching London audiences.
In his biography of Flann O'Brien, No Laughing Matter, Cronin states that 'O'Nolan knew [Beckett]', (5) but this does not make it clear that they knew each other personally before Beckett left Ireland for France in 1937.
Flann O'Brien's novelistic career began with a book within a book: it tells of the characters of Dermot Trellis, who is being written by the UCD student, who himself appears on the pages of a novel attributed to Flann O'Brien.
UCD has also produced some of Ireland's preeminent Irish language writers, notably: Flann O'Brien, Maire Mac an tSaoi and Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, writers who represent three different UCD generations.
1) In his entry on Flann O'Brien in The Modern Word, Looby also uses "lightness" at one point to characterize O'Brien's style of writing, though he does not explicate what he means by the term.
Keith Booker's book-length study, Flann O'Brien, Bakhtin, and Menippean Satire.
Tymoczko's argument (fully elaborated with respect to Joyce in The Irish Ulysses) is that Joyce, Yeats, Flann O'Brien and others drew upon the formal qualities as well as the mythology of old Irish texts.
In the 50s, Flann O'Brien and his pal Brendan Behan were well known in the Dublin social set.
His other alter-ego was Flann O'Brien, the pseudonym under which he wrote his novels - the first of which, At Swim Two Birds, was published in 1939.
The Flann O'Brien is in the heart of the Steps area, where tourist flock and is one of the few places in the city center serving food almost around the clock.