Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Third Policeman

The Third PolicemanThe Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Third Policeman is a wonderfully disturbing little book, postumously published, by Irish novelist Brian O'Nolan under nom de plume Flann O'Brien. It could perhaps be described as a sort of exploration of Parmenidean paradox infused with Irish Catholic folklore. Hell is apparantly a place where bicycles are of central importance.

It is said that when the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides advanced his position that movement was illusory owing to the infinite number of spatial divisions and was therefore impossible, best exemplified by his follower Zeno's 'fletcher's paradox', his audience's reply was to simply get up and walk about the room. Yet it moves. The limits of rationality are contrasted with the phenomenological in the Third Policeman to comic heights, but the dark Catholic terror provides this work with a tone of vertiginous dread.

For something very different and refreshing, this is an excellent read. Philosophical satire that rewards close reading, the Third Policeman is Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland for adults.

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