Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Renaissance of O'Brien's lost legacy


David McKittrick has an interesting piece in today's Independent on the great Irish comic writer Flann O'Brien. There has been a surge of interest in Tyrone man O'Brien's work, since a brief inconsequential reference to his posthumously published book The Third Policeman featured in the television series Lost. Apparently the book has sold 15000 copies in the USA. I actually went out at lunchtime today and bought it. Reading the first couple of chapters on the train home was the perfect antidote to the depressing winter chill.

Like many other famous literary figures such as Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac and Brendan Behan, O'Brien was a heavy drinker. To such men of letters alcohol may have acted as an inspiration, a catalyst to their creativity. Or at least that was their excuse. It was drink that sent O'Brien to an early grave on April Fool's day(appropriately enough!) 1966, aged 54, but not before he had produced a substantial output of quality writing in the form of five novels and a long-running satirical newspaper column under the ingenious pseudonym Myles na Gopaleen. His surreal Ireland of strange characters and ridiculously implausible events, not unlike that of the television sitcom Father Ted may be long gone - not that it ever really existed in the first place - but his legacy remains. It's probably hidden somewhere in the frothy dregs of that last pint of Guinness.

4 comments:

Madradin Ruad said...

One of the greats. Read Cronin's bok on him a few months ago.

CW said...

Thanks for the tip MR. Another book to put on this year's "to read" list!

Cybezzzzzzz said...

I can claim I was in the pub in Strabane named after him .there's more...http://www.obriennetwork.org/O'Brien%20Pubs%20and%20Restaurants.htm

CW said...

The irony is I've probably passed the pub many's a time, but never been in it let alone noticed it!