IRLL 13186-1: Ireland's Demon Jester: Flann O'Brien

Instructor: Brian O'Conchubhair

Literature University Seminar

This course introduces students to Flann O'Brien, aka Myles Na Gopaleen, one of Ireland greatest twentieth-century writers. Born in 1911, Myles was an Irish novelist, playwright, and satirist, and is regarded as a key figure in postmodern literature. Covering the five novels by Ireland's greatest comic writer, this seminar explores the full range of his invention, from the multi-layered madness of "At Swim-Two-Birds " to the piercing realism of " The Hard Life " and the surreal logic of " The Third Policeman. " This is a world where bicycles listen to conversations, inventors search for methods of 'diluting' water, and characters play truant while novelists sleep; a world where spiteful fairies wreak havoc and heroes from legend blunder into suburban sitting-rooms. This is recognizably the Ireland of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett - rowdy, high-spirited, by turns sensual and cerebral -transformed by O'Brien's unique vision His satirical columns in The Irish Times are essential reading for understanding mid-twentieth-century Irish culture. This course examines his novels, plays, letters, and columns in the light of Irish culture, and literary and cultural theory. Recommended for potential Irish Language and Literature Majors and Minors, Irish Studies minors, English majors, and PLS majors. As O'Nolan has also been semi-seriously referred to as a "scientific prophet" who writes about thermodynamics, quaternion theory, and atomic theory, this seminar may also appeal to potential science majors. One may also select this course on Dylan Thomas's recommendation that it offers "just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl'.

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