Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Flann O’Brien was the pen name used by Brian O’Nolan for the four novels he wrote in English, and so it is used here, although his work in other forms appeared under other names. He was a talented and prolific journalist as well as a novelist. He began to write satiric essays for student publications at University College, Dublin; a sampling of this student work was reprinted in the “Flann O’Brien Number” published by the Journal of Irish Studies in 1974. Although a civil servant by profession, O’Brien also wrote a famous column for The Irish Times under the name Myles na Gopaleen. This column continued on a regular basis for twenty-five years; selections were reprinted in Cruiskeen Lawn (1943), The Best of Myles (1968), and The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman and the Brother (1976).

Throughout his career, O’Brien sporadically produced skits for theater, essays other than journalism, and short stories. These are most conveniently located in two posthumous collections. Stories and Plays (1973) reprints two dramatic skits, two short stories, an essay on James Joyce called “A Bash in the Tunnel,” and the seven existing chapters of an unfinished novel called Slattery’s Sago Saga. A Flann O’Brien Reader (1978) includes examples of his journalism, short fiction, and essays, along with excerpts from his five novels.