Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brian O'Nolan

I have been reading At Swim Two Birds by Flann O'Brien. It is quite delightful if rather slow. It is rather slow because it is rather incomprehensible... which is to say it is hard to say, exactly, what the plot of the book is. Things happen but any novel-encompassing design is clear.

There is a University student who doesn't seem to take his studies too seriously, a few of his friends and extended family, and then various characters in his writings... and those writings themselves are also full of stories and authors and characters. It plays off much like some of the work of Pirandello or Queaneau except that the language reminds one of, yes, Joyce and Beckett.

Extract from the text, demonstrating the foregoing: On occasion an owl or an awkward beetle or a small coterie of hedgehogs, attracted by the splendour of the light, would escort them for a part of the journey until the circumstances of their several destinations would divert them again into the wild treachery of gloom. Conclusion of the extract.

I am having much the same reaction to this as I did to Rainer Maria Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge... I am intoxicated by the text but at the same time I wonder if it makes sense to continue reading.


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