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Minor Canon

Flann O'Brien The Third Policeman tote

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Brian O'Nolan (1911 – 1966), better known by his pen name Flann O'Brien, was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist. Born in Strabane, County Tyrone, he is regarded as a key figure in modernist and postmodern literature. His English language novels, such as At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, were written under the O’Brien pen name. His many satirical columns in The Irish Times and an Irish language novel An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth) were written under the name Myles na gCopaleen.

O'Brien's novels have attracted a wide following for their bizarre humour and modernist metafiction. As a novelist, O'Brien was influenced by James Joyce, though he was nonetheless sceptical of the cult of Joyce, which overshadows much of Irish writing, saying "I declare to God if I hear that name Joyce one more time I will surely froth at the gob."

The Third Policeman, regarded by many as O'Brien's masteropiece, was written between 1939 and 1940. After it initially failed to find a publisher, the author withdrew the manuscript from circulation and claimed he had lost it. The book remained unpublished at the time of his death in 1966. It was published by MacGibbon & Kee in 1967.

The book is a brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. 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 theories 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 found soul (named "Joe"), he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policeman present to him.

O'Nolan was an alcoholic for much of his life and suffered from ill health in his later years. After a struggle with throat cancer, he died from a heart attack on the morning of 1 April 1966.

This tote bag bears the cover art from the first English edition of The Third Policeman, published in 1967 by MacGibbon & Kee.

• 100% certified organic cotton 3/1 twill
• Fabric weight: 8 oz/yd² (272 g/m²)
• Dimensions: 16″ × 14 ½″ × 5″ (40.6 cm × 35.6 cm × 12.7 cm)
• Weight limit: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
• 1″ (2.5 cm) wide dual straps, 24.5″ (62.2 cm) length
• Open main compartment
• Blank product components sourced from Vietnam

 

Size guide

  BAG WIDTH BAG HEIGHT BAG DEPTH STRAP LENGTH STRAP WIDTH
One Size (inches) 16 14 ½ 5 24 1/2 1
  BAG WIDTH BAG HEIGHT BAG DEPTH STRAP LENGTH STRAP WIDTH
One Size (cm) 40.6 36.8 12.7 61 2.5