Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flann O'Brien 1911-1966

"Evil is even, truth is an odd number and death is a full stop. When a dog barks late at night and then retires again to bed, he punctuates and gives majesty to the serial enigma of the dark, laying it more evenly and heavily upon the fabric of the mind. Sweeny in the trees hears the sad baying as he sits listening on the branch, a huddle between the earth and heaven; and he hears also the answering mastiff that is counting the watches in the next parish. Bark answers bark till the call spreads like fire through all Erin. Soon the moon comes forth from behind her curtains riding full tilt across the sky, lightsome and unperturbed in her immemorial calm."

This day a century ago we were gifted with one of the great strange and lyrical voices of our age. Brian O'Nolan was born in County Tyrone.

I just happen to be feeling a great deal of kinship with O'Nolan at the moment. Born just a day after my own birthdate he was the same age I am now - 54 - when he died of heart failure.

Writing as Flann O'Brien he produced one of the truly fine stories in the English tongue; "At Swim-Two-Birds", a combination of poem, stream-of-consciousness blog, and surrealist novel. It may be the most bizarre and unique things to come out of Dublin since James Joyce. He was the source of a fountain of other fine works, many published under other names as he was an employee of the government of Ireland and thus prohibited from writing or otherwise expressing political and social opinion.

If you're interested, you can find it here on-line. It's not for all tastes, but, musha, it is without doubt a very memorable flavor indeed.

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