The third policeman. byO'Brien, Flann, Publication date For print- disabled users. Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files. Series: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. A masterpiece of black humour from the renown comic and acclaimed author of `At Swim-Two-Birds' - Flann O'Brien. Distinguished by endless comic invention and its delicate balancing of logic and fantasy, `The Third Policeman' is unique in. from our site. Start by pressing the button below! Report copyright / DMCA form · DOWNLOAD EPUB O'Brien, Flann - The Third Policeman · Read more.

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Who-are these policemen?' I asked. ' There is Sergeant Pluck and another man called Mac-. Cruiskeen and there is a third man called Fox that dis- appeared. Everything about The Third Policeman is mysterious, beginning with its belated publication. Flann O'Brien wrote it in , immediately after At. A masterpiece of black humour from the renown comic and acclaimed author of ' At Swim-Two-Birds' – Flann O'Brien. A thriller, a hilarious comic satire about an.

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Fiction Literature. HarperCollins Publishers.

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The Third Policeman

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The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien: an expert investigation

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The novel appears to be mere whimsy about comical Irish policemen and bicycles — but it is eerily compelling in some profound way. Part of the answer may be that it was influenced by Kafka or drew on the same sources, or both.

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In all these sagas the quest hero leaves his familiar surroundings to go in search of a magical object in an unknown world full of marvels and monsters, and eventually finds and brings back the grail, which confers special powers and meaning and transforms his world.

In other words, the absurdity of the human condition is that the sensitive few are obliged to search for meaning when in fact there is no meaning — and this futile search will be constantly thwarted by insensitive brutes.

The Third Policeman works similar variations on the mythical structure. As with Kafka, what gives the fable its power is a combination of a religio-comic vision that sees seeking as spiritually essential but laughably futile and a fastidious style that enhances the comedy by deadpan delivery, the craziness by matter-of-fact logic and both by ridiculously prosaic detail especially about bicycles.

As a consequence, all theories are crackpot, all knowledge is useless and the only meaning is that life is a hell of endless repetition. But theorising is the worst error.

The narrator has committed murder to fund a work of exegesis on De Selby, a mad scientist whose theories and commentators are equally absurd and who, in The Dalkey Archive, plans to destroy the world.

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Of all forms of theorising, science is the most grievous heresy because its belief in establishing ultimate truth displays the pride of Lucifer. So speculation and experiment are mad activities that literally disappear into nothingness.

In fact physics since has been exactly like this, its pursuit of the nature of matter and reality a vertiginous descent into a mystifying void. The perfect image of modern physics is the instrument Pluck offers the narrator — a magnifying glass that magnifies to invisibility. The style of the book is equally strange, a unique combination of pedantic exactitude and mythopoeic fable language.

And the fable language is a result of writing English as though it is translation from Irish, which gives it a timeless ancient-culture resonance and supports the mythical quest structure.

All these elements come together in the great central scene where the policemen take the narrator to eternity, which is up a country lane and deep underground, accessible only by lift, a labyrinth of metal chambers and passageways punctuated by doors like those of ovens or safe-deposit boxes, with many wires and pipes overhead and on the walls many clocks, gauges, levers and wheels.

When the narrator sarcastically suggests that cycling would be the only way to get round this place, Sergeant Pluck smiles, as though at a child, and opens one of the oven doors to reveal a brand-new bicycle with a three-speed gear. When these items have been delivered the narrator remembers further requirements and orders underwear, shoes, banknotes and a box of matches.Michael Foley: Then there is the question of what makes the book a masterpiece worthy of comparison with Kafka.

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Dominic Smith.

The Third Policeman . Flann O'Brien

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Add a comment. A good comic writer might have come up with the pitifully absurd mixture of precious and worthless items ordered and the cunning greed of demanding a weapon that will not just protect but exterminate.