FOUNDERS' WELCOME TO THE
INTERNATIONAL FLANN O'BRIEN SOCIETY



"How well the crowd in this town would never think of forming a M. na gC. Society! It'd be such a . . . a . . . . fine tribute to an old man! And with a statue in College Green my back turned to Trinity! (I still may have the figure to wear a stone beard and stone frock coat)"
- Cruiskeen Lawn, December 1944.


Dear friends, colleagues, fellow Flanneurs & Mylesians,

It was an honour and a genuine pleasure to meet you in Vienna. Now that the dust has settled, and we are all back to our exciting routine it is time to follow through on a few ideas that were floated during the conference on how to keep the community moving forward.

We wish to take this opportunity to announce the re-opening of our 100 Myles site with a new section called "100 Myles...and counting"!  We hope that the site will serve as a meeting point for Brian O'Nolan scholars and as a home address of the nascent International Flann O'Brien Society (IFOBS). Which means that this is also a performative gesture: we are henceforth, quite officially, and to the full satisfaction of the law, a society.

For the moment the aims of the society are quite modest: We want to provide O'Nolan scholars with the means of keeping in touch, and staying up to date with the latest Flann & Myles-related research worldwide. Of course this is intended to be a community-based initiative and is very much an idea in progress, so all suggestions for improvements and volunteers for projects will be gratefully received.

Website

For now, you will find a news section with all the latest news from the O'Brien world below this letter, and if you go to our IFOBS Bibliography page you will see our first attempt at a comprehensive Flann bibliography. We intend this to be a live and continually updated bibliography of all works on Flann, so please take a moment to peruse it and let us know if any articles, theses, translations, or adaptation by yourself or others missing, and we will update it as we receive them.

Conference & The Parish Review E-Journal

We also hope to create a framework that will promote/encourage the organization of future events dedicated to the work of our man. To this end we have announced the II International Flann O'Brien Conference, to take place in Rome, June 19-21 2013 (see below for the Call For Papers). Our hope is that this will lead the way to a regular a biennial conference. To get to the front of the queue on this, make sure to sign up for our bi-annual newsletter The Parish Review (see below for details)!

Other planned initiatives include two yearly prizes to be known as The Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. Memorial Prize: one for the 'best book-length publication on a Brian O'Nolan theme' (the Big Fahrt) and one for the 'best essay-length publication on a Brian O'Nolan theme' (the Small Fahrt); a database of members' addresses; a bi-annual journaldedicated to the work of Flann (to get your copy of the first issue of The Parish Review, released July 2012, just sign up for membership at viennacis.anglistik@univie.ac.at); a giant volcano with a false retractable top; & cetera.

Contact

Our proposed addresses for the moment are:

The International Flann O'Brien Society
c/o Paul Fagan
Vienna Centre for Irish Studies
Department of English
University of Vienna
Spitalgasse 2-4, Hof 8
A-1090 Vienna
Austria

viennacis.anglistik@univie.ac.at
(Vienna Centre for Irish Studies)


For more day-to-day updates and links from the world of Flann you can

FOLLOW US

 


Thank you for all your help and support, we look forward to building the International Flann O'Brien Society together with you,

with fond regards,
Paul Fagan & Ruben Borg



2011 marks the centenary year of Brian O'Nolan; born October 5 1911 in Strabane, County Tyrone, in what is now Northern Ireland. He is most famous, under the penname Flann O'Brien, as the author of At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman – two works which could easily take a seat alongside Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, and Ulysses at the head table of comic literature masterpieces.

However, beyond his two most famous and innovative novels, O’Nolan left us a wealth of writing under myriad pseudonyms; from his early student scribblings as Brother Barnabas (such as Scenes in a Novel (probably posthumous), and the short-lived monthly periodical Blather), to his bitingly satirical Gaelic Novel An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth) and longstanding “Cruiskeen Lawn” Irish Times newspaper column (as Myles na gCopaleen), and his final series of novels, The Hard Life, The Dalkey Archive, and the unfinished Slattery’s Sago Saga. Further genres in which O'Nolan wrote include theatre plays (the Faustian satire on Irish local government Faustus Kelly, a Karel Capek adaptation The Insect Play, and Thirst, a one act play of after hours drinking in Mr. Coulihan's Dublin pub), short stories (such as the nightmare-ish Two-in-One), TV dramas (including The Dead Spit of Kelly, Flight, and The Time Freddie Retired), and Radio scripts for RTE’s O’Dea’s Yer Man’. O'Nolan is even said to have written three editions of the popular post-war detective comic series Sexton Blake under the pen-name of Stephen Blakesley.

The occasion of O’Nolan’s centenary year affords us an opportunity to re-assess this deeply underexplored body of multigenre and polyphonic comic texts. Furthermore, it encourages us to take stock of how O’Nolan’s legacy has been shaped – particularly in comparison to his exiled, and significantly more canonised, compatriots Joyce and Beckett – how this legacy might be re-evaluated and re-shaped, and to chart how his cultural purchase has gathered speed throughout the last century, to the point that Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange) might comment that “if we don't cherish the work of Flann O'Brien we are stupid fools who don't deserve to have great men.” That O’Nolan’s work continues to be cherished is evident in the traces of his influence on contemporary works of metafiction, such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Paul Auster’s Oracle Night, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, Italo Calvino’s If on a winter's night a traveler, and Patrick McGinley's The Devil's Diary. We also find ourselves at the point at which O’Nolan has finally entered the larger pop culture consciousness, with the appearance of The Third Policeman in the second season premiere of primetime U.S. television series Lost, resulting in a sudden surge in sales—more than 15,000 copies in three weeks, equaling total sales of the previous six years.

As demonstrated by these contemporary adaptations and appropriations of O'Nolan's work, the commonly held view of O'Nolan as a purely local writer is in desperate need of updating. As such, the conference is especially interested in challenging and re-evaluating this view of O'Nolan by considering his work in broader, more international contexts, with the ultimate goal of spearheading a more integrated international community dedicated to this ‘cult’ author.