Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.
John Coyle Flann O’Brien in the Devil Era: Building Hell in Heaven’s Despite 143
Flann O’Brien in the Devil Era: Building Hell in Heaven’s Despite John Coyle ‘Everything comes in circles: even Professor Moriarty’ — Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear The Third Policeman, a novel by Flann O’Brien, was submitted for publi- cation in January 1940, rejected on both sides of the Atlantic, forgotten, disavowed by the author to the extent that he faked its disappearance (motor tour, Donegal, looseleaved manuscript blown from car boot) and finally resuscitated and published, posthumously, in 1967. It is, in matter and manner as well as publishing history, altogether a very posthumous work, dealing as it does with the fate of a man boobytrapped into an eternity of suffering and want which is inexorable, however civil, con- vivial and congenial its inhabitants. The dark games which Flann O’Brien plays with time’s ironies and incongruities survive his death, and sustain a puzzling afterlife for the novel. One question resulting from the pub- lishing history might be whether it is a worse thing to be read as a 1960s novel written in the 1930s, or as a 1930s novel read from the 1960s on. Is it ahead of its time, as many have claimed, or simply belated? Certainly the accumulation of critical accounts of the work since 1967 might have been expected to have paid more attention to the changing terms, revi- sions and counter-revisions of critical debate within both the Irish and the international academies, despite what Anne Clune calls a ‘veritable explosion of full-length studies’ (Clune & Hurson,...
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