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At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

de Flann O'Brien

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2,999583,702 (3.9)169
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-Birdsis 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 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… (més)
  1. 60
    Si una nit d'hivern un viatger de Italo Calvino (macflaherty)
  2. 10
    The Alone to the Alone de Gwyn Thomas (chrisharpe)
  3. 00
    Mulligan Stew de Gilbert Sorrentino (ateolf)
  4. 00
    Viatges per l'Scriptorium de Paul Auster (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Fictional characters exacting revenge on their creator. Story within a story.
  5. 00
    Home lent de J. M. Coetzee (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Books in which the characters interact with their fictitious authors.
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» Mira també 169 mencions

Anglès (54)  Suec (1)  Francès (1)  Danès (1)  Castellà (1)  Totes les llengües (58)
Es mostren 1-5 de 58 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Reason read: 2022, June BOTM, Reading 1001.
I found it amusing but not sure what I read. The structure jumps about and goes from the unnamed narrator, his uncle, to tales about all these myths and personages. The narrator is a person who is rather isolated as he stays in his room, in his bed and he does entertain the idea of writing and even writes a bit. I think he might be a rather smart, perhaps socially awkward person who likes to drink or he might just be lazy. The Legacy might be the structure, the inclusion of the myths and folklore. It is a writing about a guy who writes, whose characters turn on him. I am not sure if the novel is plot or character driven because it is hard to follow but there is a plot. It might be more experimental and modernistic than plot or character driven. It was interesting to be introduced to so many new mythological and folklore. It wasn't hard to listen to the audio because the accent was so fun, and the Anglo Gaelic sentences were great. It is short so that helps too. I really liked many of the sayings in the book. I think it is quite quotable. I liked the intro where he discusses that a book can start and end in many different ways. I think I've read that idea in another book that was about writing and reading novels. Given that the book was published in 1939, this author was ahead of its time. This was his debut novel. I've read The Third Policeman a while back which is also a weird book. The author had a wonderful sense of humor. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 1, 2022 |
Whew! Double-Whew! Zillion-Whew! I had the vague notion that I'd read everything by Flann O'Brien & then I realized that I hadn't read this one. &, OH SHIT!, it's the most amazing one yet. Rilly. Definitely in my top of my top 10 all-time favorite novels. Utterly hilarious, utterly brilliant, utterly inspired, utterly tangential in the sneakiest most mischievous way. Even the introduction by William H. Gass is fantastic.

The tale? An author (unnamed) who spends much of his time laying in bed writes a story about an author (Trellis) who spends most of his time laying around in bed. Trellis is writing a sordid morality tale in wch it's his intention to make his characters all depraved & their lives miserable. His characters come to life, Trellis controls them while he's awake but can't while he's asleep. The characters revolt against the natures they've been given by him & drug Trellis to keep him asleep. Trellis creates a woman character who he rapes, she has a child half in Trellis's 'real' world & half in Trellis's 'fictional' world. The child, Orlick, becomes a writer too & takes revenge on Trellis by writing a tale in wch Trellis suffers enormously.

If the above were all there were to it, "At Swim-Two-Birds" wd be extravagantly beauteous as is - but that's only the outline of its bare, bare bones. O'Brien's brain was on full-force flow when he wrote this. It continually transforms in the most outlandish tall-tale way I've ever come across. Superlatives fail me. Hyperbole poops out.

I love the writing of Philip K. Dick b/c most of his SF has at least 2 major plot ideas where other SF writers wd only have one. O'Brien has 20 or so. He goes off every-wch-way, all fascinating, & manages to tie it together w/o tying it down. One surprise after another, one reference after another tweaked. This is much more conventionally readable than Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (wch I respect perhaps above all other novels as a work of mammoth intricacy) & came out in the same yr (1939) & DAMNDED IF IT AIN'T ALMOST AS GREAT!! ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Anthony Burgess, James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, and Dylan Thomas all raved about this debut novel, at a 1939 vintage one of the earliest examples of plot-playful metafiction ever published. I've been a fan of Flann's ever since I read his second novel The Third Policeman, and though I liked the sophomore novel a bit more, this one was also really funny and clever, declaring right on the very first page that "one beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with" and that it was going to play around with normal novel conventions. One interesting difference was the change in atmosphere - The Third Policeman is a strange and eerie novel, with an uncanny air hanging over the absurd dialogue and surreal events. At Swim-Two-Birds is more straightforward for the most part, having a simple frame story about a lazy college student who does more drinking than studying, and who's writing novels that feature writers, along with characters out of Irish mythology. The metafictionality comes in when the levels of narrative start to mix - characters decide to rebel and put their author on trial - and the book ends abruptly in a way that calls attention to the conceits of literary forms. I'm not Irish, but the parts that parodied traditional forms of native literature are pretty funny even if you're not completely familiar with the source material.

Most of the parts involving the Pooka (a sort of devil, etymologically related to the English puck, as in Shakespeare's The Tempest) are most notable for the language O'Brien uses, which is very reminiscent of a more lighthearted Joyce. There's lots of wordplay and creative ways to over-describe things, and it strikes me that the book would almost be even more enjoyable in audiobook form, as you would get to hear beautiful passages like this:

"They beguiled him with the mention of salads and crome custards and the grainy disorder of pulpy boiled rhubarb, matchless as a physic for the bowels, olives and acorns and rabbit-pie, and venison roasted on a smoky spit, and mulatto thick-tipped delphy cups of black-strong tea. They foreshadowed the felicity of billowy beds of swansdown carefully laid crosswise on springy rushes and sequestered with a canopy of bearskins and generous goatspelts, a couch for a king with fleshly delectations and fifteen hundred olive-mellow concubines in constant attendance against the hour of desire. Chariots they talked about and duncrusted pies exuberant with a sweat of crimson juice, and tall crocks full of eddying foam-washed stout, and wailing prisoners in chains on their knees for mercy, humbled enemies crouching in sackcloth with their upturned eye-whites suppliant."

Or this description of food:

"Quickly they repaired to a small room adjoining Miss Lamont’s bedroom where the good lady was lying in, and deftly stacked the papered wallsteads with the colourful wealth of their offerings and their fine gifts—their golden sheaves of ripened barley, firkins of curdy cheese, berries and acorns and crimson yams, melons and marrows and mellowed mast, variholed sponges of crisp-edged honey and oaten breads, earthenware jars of whey-thick sack and porcelain pots of lathery lager, sorrels and short-bread and coarse-grained cake, cucumbers cold and downy straw-laced cradles of elderberry wine poured out in sea-green egg-cups and urn-shaped tubs of molasses crushed and crucibled with the lush brown-heavy scum of pulped mellifluous mushrooms, an exhaustive harvesting of the teeming earth, by God."

Or the whole "A pint of plain is your only man" poem ("pome"), and also funny stories like the one about a guy paralyzed "from the knee up", and a bunch of other great writing. Still, it was great in regular book form and I'd definitely read more from O'Brien. Or, don't take my word for it, check out Dylan Thomas' laudatory quote: "This is just the book to give to your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl!" ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
surrealistic tale within a tale, influence on RAW
  ritaer | Apr 23, 2021 |
This dyslexic reader cannot cope with this book.
Some passages are wonderful but too many parts seem completely unfathomable ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 58 (següent | mostra-les totes)
At Swim-Two-Birds has such a strong claim to be one of the founding texts of literary postmodernism. All the markers of that baggy but indispensable cultural category—the deconstruction of narrative, the replacement of nature by culture, an ahistoric sensibility in which tropes and genres from different eras can be mixed and matched promiscuously, the prominence of pastiche, the notion of language itself as the real author of the work—are openly declared in At Swim.
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (44 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
O'Brien, FlannAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bushman, Todd MichaelDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Fiedler, LoreTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gass, William H.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Meinicken, HelmutÜbersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pokorný, MartinTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rowohlt, HarryTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.
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I'm thirsty, he said. I have sevenpence. Therefore I buy a pint.
...
The conclusion of your syllogism, I said lightly, is fallacious, being based on licensed premises.
Licensed premises is right, he replied, spitting heavily. I saw that my witticism was unperceived and quietly replaced it in the treasury of my mind.
The passage, however, served to provoke a number of discussions with my friends and acquaintances on the subject of aestho-psycho-eugenics and the general chaos which would result if all authors were disposed to seduce their female characters and bring into being, as a result, offspring of the quasi-illusory type. It was asked why Trellis did not require the expectant mother to make a violent end of herself and the trouble she was causing by the means of drinking a bottle of disinfectant fluid usually to be found in bathrooms. The answer I gave was that the author was paying less and less attention to his literary work and was spending entire days and nights in the unremitting practice of his sleep. This explanation, I am glad to say, gave instant satisfaction and was represented as ingenious by at least one of the inquirers concerned.
When money's tight and is hard to get,
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt--
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.
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(Clica-hi per mostrar-ho. Compte: pot anticipar-te quin és el desenllaç de l'obra.)
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

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-Birdsis 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 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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