Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flann O'Brien

Through an article in Books and Culture, I've just learned about the Irish writer, Flann O'Brien, who lived in the same era as James Joyce, wrote with just as much verve (and perhaps more clarity), but is barely known. Some of his work has just been republished in Everyman editions. Here's an extract from the article, with a paragraph from O'Brien's novel, The Third Policeman.

[includes]....the animadversions of de Selby, the visionary polymath, who, among many other distinctions, designs alternatives to Dublin's row houses. One design
had the conventional slated roof but no walls save one, which was to be erected in the quarter of the prevailing wind; around the other sides were the inevitable tarpaulins loosely wound on rollers suspended from the gutters of the roof, the whole structure being surrounded by a diminutive moat or pit bearing some resemblance to military latrines. In the light of present-day theories of housing and hygiene, there can be no doubt that de Selby was much mistaken in these ideas but in his own remote day more than one sick person lost his life in an ill-advised quest for health in these fantastic dwellings.
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