The Third Policeman Harper Perennial Modern Classics

A masterpiece of black humour from the renown comic and acclaimed author of ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ – Flann O’Brien.

The Third Policeman  Harper Perennial Modern Classics

A masterpiece of black humour from the renown comic and acclaimed author of ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ – Flann O’Brien.

The Third Policeman

The Third Policeman follows a narrator who is obsessed with the work of a scientist and philosopher named de Selby (who believes that Earth is not round but sausage-shaped)—and has finally completed what he believes is the definitive text ...

The Third Policeman

One man wants to publish, so another must perish, in this darkly witty philosophical novel by “a spectacularly gifted comic writer” (Newsweek). The Third Policeman follows a narrator who is obsessed with the work of a scientist and philosopher named de Selby (who believes that Earth is not round but sausage-shaped)—and has finally completed what he believes is the definitive text on the subject. But, broke and desperate for money to get his scholarly masterpiece published, he winds up committing robbery—and murder. From here, this remarkably imaginative dark comedy proceeds into a world of riddles, contradictions, and questions about the nature of eternity as our narrator meets some policemen with an obsession of their own (specifically, bicycles), and engages in an extended conversation with his dead victim—and his own soul, which he nicknames Joe. By the celebrated Irish author praised by James Joyce as “a real writer, with the true comic spirit,” The Third Policeman is an incomparable work of fiction. “’Tis the odd joke of modern Irish literature—of the three novelists in its holy trinity, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien, the easiest and most accessible of the lot is O’Brien. . . . Flann O’Brien was too much his own man, Ireland’s man, to speak in any but his own tongue.” —The Washington Post

The Third Policeman

With the publication of The Third Policeman, Dalkey Archive Press now has all of O'Brien's fiction back in print.

The Third Policeman

With the publication of The Third Policeman, Dalkey Archive Press now has all of O'Brien's fiction back in print.

The Third Policeman

With the publication of The Third Policeman, Dalkey Archive Press now has all of O'Brien's fiction back in print.

The Third Policeman

With the publication of The Third Policeman, Dalkey Archive Press now has all of O'Brien's fiction back in print.

About a Bicycle

An illustrated introduction to Flann O'Brien's famous tale of hell

About a Bicycle

An illustrated introduction to Flann O'Brien's famous tale of hell

Gate Theatre

Gate Theatre


A Journey is an Hallucination

However, if particular components of the novel are studied further, and in relation to the aftereffects of trauma, O'Brien's work is more realistic and logical than what is fantastically portrayed on the text's surface.

 A Journey is an Hallucination

Flann O'Brien's novel, The Third Policeman, consists of many seemingly unrealistic events, thus sharing similarities with the fantastic piece, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The events and characters within O'Brien's storyline obtain no source of reason, leading to another wonderland. However, if particular components of the novel are studied further, and in relation to the aftereffects of trauma, O'Brien's work is more realistic and logical than what is fantastically portrayed on the text's surface.

The Third Policeman

The Third Policeman


The Problem with Irish Identity

Through the novel he explores the degeneration of the ideals of the literary revival, the cruelty of the nation's early government, and the hypocrisy of the religious conservatism that gripped the early decades of independent Ireland"- ...

The Problem with Irish Identity

"Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman, written in 1940 and published posthumously in 1967, is a satiric allegory for Ireland after the fight for independence and the civil war. O'Brien uses an image of Hell to demonstrate that the Republic of Ireland has fallen away from the ideals and promises of the revolution. Perhaps, like many of his contemporaries, O'Brien felt the stagnation of the republic's development was dooming the citizenry to an eternity ignorant of their glum existence and lost potential. O'Brien uses his allegory to reveal the current state of Ireland after the revolution and civil war in order to enact change in the culture. Through the novel he explores the degeneration of the ideals of the literary revival, the cruelty of the nation's early government, and the hypocrisy of the religious conservatism that gripped the early decades of independent Ireland"--Document.

The Complete Novels

A compilation of five novels by one of the leading novelists of modern Irish literature features such works as "At Swim-Two-Birds," "The Third Policeman," and "The Poor Mouth."

The Complete Novels

A compilation of five novels by one of the leading novelists of modern Irish literature features such works as "At Swim-Two-Birds," "The Third Policeman," and "The Poor Mouth."

At Swim Two Birds

. Flann O’Brien was too much his own man, Ireland’s man, to speak in any but his own tongue.” —The Washington Post “As with Scott Fitzgerald, there is a brilliant ease in [O’Brien’s] prose, a poignant grace glimmering off ...

At Swim Two Birds

An indolent college student creates a chaotic fictional world in this classic of Irish literature: “A marvel of imagination, language, and humor” (New Republic). In this comic masterpiece, our unnamed narrator—a student at University College, Dublin, who spends more time drinking and working on his novel than attending classes—creates a character, a pub owner named Trellis, who himself is devoted mainly to writing and sleeping. Soon Trellis is collaborating with an author of cowboy romances, and from there unspools a brilliantly unpredictable adventure that James Joyce himself called “a really funny book.” “’Tis the odd joke of modern Irish literature—of the three novelists in its holy trinity, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien, the easiest and most accessible of the lot is O’Brien. . . . Flann O’Brien was too much his own man, Ireland’s man, to speak in any but his own tongue.” —The Washington Post “As with Scott Fitzgerald, there is a brilliant ease in [O’Brien’s] prose, a poignant grace glimmering off every page.” —John Updike “One of the best books of our century.” —Graham Greene

Sub versions

Narrative disruption A similar disruptive pattern can be found at the narrative level of At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman where digressive plots and meta-narrative comments constantly break linearity (a pattern that is also ...

Sub versions

From Swift's repulsive shit-flinging Yahoos to Beckett's dying but never quite dead moribunds, Irish literature has long been perceived as being synonymous with subversion and all forms of subversiveness. But what constitutes a subversive text or a subversive writer in twenty-first-century Ireland? The essays in this volume set out to redefine and rethink the subversive potential of modern Irish literature. Crossing three central genres, one common denominator running through these essays whether dealing with canonical writers like Yeats, Beckett and Flann O'Brien, or lesser known contemporary writers like Sebastian Barry or Robert McLiam Wilson, is the continual questioning of Irish identity – Irishness – going from its colonial paradigm and stereotype of the subaltern in MacGill, to its uneasy implications for gender representation in the contemporary novel and the contemporary drama. A subsidiary theme inextricably linked to the identity problematic is that of exile and its radical heritage for all Irish writing irrespective of its different genres. Sub-Versions offers a cross-cultural and trans-national response to the expanding interest in Irish and postcolonial studies by bringing together specialists from different national cultures and scholarly contexts – Ireland, Britain, France and Central Europe. The order of the essays is by genre.This study is aimed both at the general literary reader and anyone particularly interested in Irish Studies.