With Love and Squalor: Flann O'Brien's First Novel, at Swim-Two-Birds, Was Hailed by Jorge Luis Borges, Dylan Thomas and Graham Greene, but Sold Only 244 Copies. at Last the Rest of the World Is Catching Up
Hopper, Keith, New Statesman (1996)
For a growing number of readers, Flann O'Brien is the third in the trinity of modern Irish novelists: alongside James Joyce the Father and Samuel Beckett the Son, he is the Holy Ghostin the machine. When he began writing, the term "postmodernism" had yet to be coined, but O'Brien was a postmodernist at a time when it was - as he put it - "neither profitable nor popular".
Flann O'Brien was just one of many pseudonyms used by Brian O'Nolan, who was born a century ago this October. O'Nolan grew up in County Tyrone but spent most of his life in Dublin, where he worked as a senior civil servant and a satirical columnist for the Irish Times (under the pen name Myles na gCopaleen). Behind these garrulous literary masks, the invisible author craved anonymity. The writer Brendan Behan once said that you had to look twice at O'Nolan to make sure he was there at all. He signed his name variously as "Nolan", "O'Nolan" and "O Nuallain".
Three is a magic number for O'Nolan. His first novel, At Swim-Two-Birds, written as O'Brien in 1939, is a book about a man writing a book about a man writing a book. The nameless narrator offers the reader three different openings - about a …
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Publication information: Article title: With Love and Squalor: Flann O'Brien's First Novel, at Swim-Two-Birds, Was Hailed by Jorge Luis Borges, Dylan Thomas and Graham Greene, but Sold Only 244 Copies. at Last the Rest of the World Is Catching Up. Contributors: Hopper, Keith - Author. Magazine title: New Statesman (1996). Volume: 140. Issue: 5066 Publication date: August 15, 2011. Page number: 43+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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