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The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

The Third Policeman (original 1967; edition 2002)

by Flann O'Brien

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2,849742,038 (4.03)178
Title:The Third Policeman
Authors:Flann O'Brien
Info:Dalkey Archive Pr (2002), Edition: Second printing, Paperback, 200 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (1967)


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English (70)  Spanish (1)  Greek (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
I think this is my first Flan O'Brien. A weird story but surprisingly entertaining. Set in rural Ireland, its a tale of murder, bicycles, other dimensions. Those Irish can sure tell tall tales. The ending is great but giving it away would be a shame.

"Is it about a bicycle?" ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 22, 2015 |
4 and a half stars. one of my favourite writers, and every once in a while it's time to reread this one. it's a very funny spoof of science, logic, academic writing, and metaphysics, chaotic but organized, elegant and playful. everyone should own it. though i warn you, it's gonna lead to reading a lot more of Brian O'Nolan's body of work in every pseudonym and style - even his hilarious and very pointed journalistic columns for the Irish Times read just the same. but also, this classic jumps every genre line (surrealistic sf? existential mystery? Lewis Carrollist discourse delivered in absurdist mode? an allegory about heaven and hell? okay, all of the above, and more, in the loose and unassuming structure of an Irish tall tale). but this read, i marvelled at how the narrative seamlessly describes quantum space, utilizing string theory, as it demonstrates the folding up of dimensions and peers at the possible contents of a Schrodinger's box - even though the book was written in 1940, and appears weightless in content and style, while it reads like a fever dream. ( )
  macha | Jul 5, 2015 |
Interesting, infuriating, absurd, boring, intriguing. I didn't know what to make of this book. ( )
  dougcornelius | Apr 15, 2015 |
I had to stop reading because I could not wrap my mind around this book. I feel like a terrible failure, especially when I see how excited everyone else seems to be. ( )
1 vote flydodofly | Mar 28, 2015 |
In this bizarre dark comedy the narrator can't give us his name because he has forgotten it. All we know about him is that he has a wooden leg and has devoted his life to the study of the works of and about a scientist-philosopher named de Selby. While some of de Selby's manuscripts are utterly undecipherable, it is at least known that he believed night was a recent phenomenon caused by the intrusion of a noxious pollutant called "dark air." He also devoted much of his life to studying how to dilute water. The narrator has prepared a manuscript about de Selby which will be his own life's work, but he is desperately short of the the funds it will take to subsidize its publication--desperate enough to resort to robbery, even murder.

While the narrator may not know his own name, he does know that his soul's name is Joe, and the two carry on an ongoing conversation during their travels and adventures. They have much to discuss, including a trio of obese policemen who are obsessed with bicycle thefts, but also possess the uncanny means to manipulate time and space.

The Third Policeman is a marvelous, often funny, occasionally unsettling, wildly imaginative absurdist fantasy. ( )
3 vote StevenTX | Feb 3, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
O'Brien, Flannprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hedlund, MagnusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Human existence being an hallucination containing in itself the secondary hallucinations of day and night (the latter an insanitary condition of the atmosphere due to accretions of black air) it ill becomes any man of sense to be concerned at the illusory approach of the supreme hallucination known as death."
~ de Selby
"Since the affairs of men rest still uncertain,/ Let's reason with the worst that may befall."
~ Shakespeare
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Not everybody knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade;
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 156478214X, Paperback)

A comic trip through hell in Ireland, as told by a murderer, The Third Policeman is another inspired bit of confusing and comic lunacy from the warped imagination and lovably demented pen of Flann O'Brien, author of At Swim-Two-Birds. There's even a small chance you'll figure out what's going on if you read the publisher's note that appears on the last page.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:26 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the writings of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly discovered soul, named "Joe," he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policemen present to him.--From publisher's description.… (more)

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