OBrien, Flann-The Poor Mouth - epub - zeke23

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The Hard Life
by Flann O'Brien
3.69 of 5 stars
3.69 · rating details · 466 ratings · 33 reviews 23
Subtitled "An Exegesis of Squalor," The Hard Life is a sober farce from a master of Irish comic fiction. Set in Dublin at the turn of the century, the novel does involve squalor—illness, alcoholism, unemployment, bodily functions, crime, illicit sex—but also investigates such diverse topics as Church history, tightrope walking, and the pressing need for public toilets for ladies. The Hard Life is straight-faced entertainment that conceals in laughter its own devious and wicked satire by one of the best known Irish writers of the 20th century.

"The dialogue is first rate, as is the Dublin atmosphere- and some of his characters are as rich and yeasty as good porter foaming out of the jar." (Times Literary Supplement 12-1-61)

"Described as a 'sober farce,' this book is anything but sober. Wild, hilarious, fast moving, irreverent and comic would be the better way to describe it. . . . Not since the publication of Mr. O'Brien's first book, At Swim-Two-Birds, has such a comic novel come out of Ireland." (Shaun O'Criadin, New York Herald Tribune 7-29-62)

"The conversation is a delight—it seems no Irishman can be dull when talking—and the atmosphere of a lower-middle-class family, with its cheerless, shabby, restricted way of life, is well done." (Library Journal 5-15-62)

"Flann O'Brien's The Hard Life is a comic Irish novel that derives its effect from an absolutely deadpan approach, for the narrator is a small boy who, for the better part of the time, has only the foggiest notion of what he is describing. Young Finbarr commands a glorious version of the English language combined with a totally impartial view of adult actions. The two things produce remarkable results." (Phoebe Adams, Atlantic

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His English novels appeared under the name of Flann O’Brien, while his great Irish novel and his newspaper column (which appeared from 1940 to 1966) were signed Myles na gCopaleen or Myles na Gopaleen – the second being a phonetic rendering of the first. One of twelve brothers and sisters, he was born in 1911 in Strabane, County Tyrone, into an Irish-speaking family. His father had learned Irish while a young man during the Gaelic revival the son was later to mock. O’Brien’s childhood has been described as happy, though somewhat insular, as the language spoken at home was not that spoken by their neighbours. The Irish language had long been in decline, and Strabane was not in an Irish-speaking part of the country. The family moved frequently during O’Brien’s childhood, finally settling in Dublin in 1925. Four years later O’Brien took up study in University College Dublin.
Flann O'Brien is considered a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature. Flann O'Brien novels have attracted a wide following for their bizarre humour and Modernist metafiction.