Friday 23 February 2018

Gardai start to imitate O'Brien's surreal fiction

Cartoon by Jim Cogan
Cartoon by Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

I have long felt that of the great Irish writers, Oscar Wilde is the one who was most ahead of his time. His war against what we call "conventional wisdom", the way that he would overturn some widely accepted platitude to demonstrate that the opposite was indeed true, makes him a visionary of the modern world as well as his own.

But in the last few weeks, Flann O'Brien has surely come steaming through the field to challenge Wilde, not just in the depth of his perceptions, but in the virtual prophesy which, it is now clear, was running through much of his work in the area of policing.

The Third Policeman in particular must now be seen, not as an impossibly strange vision of the gardai as they might exist in some alternative world of the author's imagining, but as a kind of unofficial guidebook to the workings of the force in real life, in real time in the present day.

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