“O’Brien had little to learn from Joyce except a few technical tricks; he was already endowed with the Irish poetic pedantry which it was Joyce’s achievement to exploit to the epic limit. O’Brien is more modest. He is content here with the creation of a whole bogus scholarship centered on the writings of an impossible savant called de Selby. This mad philosopher is the narrator’s personal obsession. He is invoked on every occasion, often in dense footnotes which rise up the page and flood out the narrative. One is reminded of Finnegans Wake, but only just. The materials of that phantasmagoria are real life; everything here is made out of the world of the dead. The narrator, we eventually discover, is dead: his accomplice planted a bomb in the house of the robbed and murdered farmer and blew him up. The horrible logic of de Selby belongs to a quiet and somehow friendly hell where bicycles and an entity called an omnium are among the obsessive furniture. It is circular, and we end as we begin (‘Is it about a bicycle?’ asks Sergeant Pluck).
Thursday, October 12, 2017
… "Is it about a bicycle?":On Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman | Literary Hub. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)