The Dalkey Archive (Flann O' Brien)

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Hailed as "the best comic fantasy since Tristram Shandy" upon its publication in 1964, The Dalkey Archive is Flann O'Brien's fifth and final novel; or rather (as O'Brien wrote to his editor), "The book is not meant to be a novel or anything of the kind but a study in derision, various writers with their styles, and sundry modes, attitudes and cults being the rats in the cage." Among the targets of O'Brien's derision are religiosity, intellectual abstractions, J. W. Dunne's and Albert Einstein's views on time and relativity, and the lives and works of Saint Augustine and James Joyce, both of whom have speaking parts in the novel. Bewildering? Yes, but as O'Brien insists, "a measure of bewilderment is part of the job of literature."