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The Third Policeman

A Novel
O'Brien, Flann (Book - 1999 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Third Policeman


Item Details

Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the writings of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly discovered soul, named "Joe," he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policemen present to him.--From publisher's description.
Authors: O'Brien, Flann, 1911-1966
Title: The third policeman
a novel
Publisher: Champaign [Ill.] :, Dalkey Archive Press,, 1999, c1967
Edition: Dalkey Archive ed
Characteristics: 209 p. ;,22 cm
Statement of Responsibility: by Flann O'Brien ; afterword by Denis Donoghue
Summary: Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the writings of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly discovered soul, named "Joe," he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policemen present to him.--From publisher's description.
ISBN: 9781564782144
156478214X
Branch Call Number: FICTION OBRIEN 1999
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Report This Dec 22, 2012
  • theorbys rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Quirky, comic, and labyrinthine, by an original and influential writer who is somewhat off the beaten path perhaps even cultic. I can not see comparing him to Beckett but that is hardly a criticism.

Report This Dec 17, 2012
  • Cepros rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Flann O'Brien is a modernist Irish writer and is the least well known of the big three modernist Irish writers: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Flann O'Brien. However, in my opinion, O'Brien is by far the best. The Third Policeman is about a man who, after committing a murder, ends up in a two dimensional police station in a town full of people obsessed with bicycles. On top of that, the main character's soul (whom the main character names Joe) starts to talk to him of its own volition. It is confusing, nonsensical, and has some interesting ideas: namely that the world is in the shape of a sausage and that there is actually only one direction. In short, The Third Policeman has all the elements of a great modernist novel, but it is more lighthearted and doesn't have an inflated sense of its own literary significance.

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