At Swim-two-birds
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At Swim-two-birds

3.91 (9,803 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Flann O'Brien's innovative metafictional work, whose unruly characters strike out their own paths in life to the frustration of their author, At Swim-Two-Birds is a brilliant impressionistic jumble of ideas, mythology and nonsense published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Flann O'Brien's first novel tells the story of a young, indolent undergraduate, who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dubin and spends far too much time drinking with his friends. When not drunk or in bed he likes to invent wild stories peoples with hilarious and unlikely characters - but somehow his creations won't do what he wants them to. A dazzling work of farce, satire, folklore and absurdity that gives full rein to its author's dancing intellect and Celtic wit, At Swim-Two-Birds is both a brilliant comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, and a portrayal of Dublin to compare with Joyce's Ulysses.

Brian O Nuallain, (1911-1966), better known by his pseudonym Flann O'Brien, was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, and studied at University College Dublin before joining the Irish Civil Service.

Ifyou enjoyed At Swim-Two-Birds, you might like Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl'
Dylan Thomas

'That's a real writer, with the true comic spirit'
James Joyce, author of Ulysses

'A brilliant, beer-soaked miniature masterpiece'
Time
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 22mm | 220g
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Repr.
  • 0141182687
  • 9780141182681
  • 16,124

Back cover copy

The story of an Irish college student who - half to amuse himself and half to avoid work - writes an irreverent novel about the figures of Irish myth and legend in which characters come to life and riot against their author, At Swim is a wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture. O'Brien opened up a whole new world of possibilities for fiction and subsequent novelists have played with his zany ideas, chief among them being the idea that characters in fiction have earned the right to be "recycled" - after all, they've proven their reliability as characters! - not retired once their stories are finished.
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Review quote

At Swim-Two-Birds is a marvel of imagination, language, and humor. At Swim-Two-Birds has remained in my mind ever since it firstappeared as one of the best books of our century. A book in a thousand. . . in the line of Ulysses and Tristram Shandy.--Graham Greene If I were a cultural dictator in England I would make At Swim-Two-Birds compulsory reading in all universities.--Philip Toynbee Flann O'Brien is unquestionably a major author. His work, like that ofJoyce, is so layered as to be almost Dante-esque. . . . Joyce and FlannO'Brien assault your brain with words, style, magic, madness, andunlimited invention.--Anthony Burgess 'Tis the odd joke of modern Irish literature of the three novelistsin its holy trinity, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Flann O'Brien, theeasiest and most accessible of the lot is O'Brien. . . . Flann O'Brienwas too much his own man, Ireland's man, to speak in any but his owntongue. At Swim-Two-Birdsis both a comedy and a fantasy of such staggering originality that itbaffles description and very nearly beggars our sense of delight.
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About Flann O'Brien

Flann O'Brien was born on October 5, 1911, in Strabane, Ireland. He was a novelist and dramatist. He wrote a column for The Irish Times for 26 years under the name Myles na gCopaleen. His best known novel is At Swim-Two-Birds, which was written in 1939. It combines folklore, poetry and humor. He died in Dublin on April 1, 1966.
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Rating details

9,803 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 37% (3,604)
4 33% (3,190)
3 20% (1,981)
2 7% (670)
1 4% (358)
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