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Dalkey Archive par Flann O'Brien
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Dalkey Archive (original 1964; édition 1993)

par Flann O'Brien (Auteur)

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772922,604 (3.7)22
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."… (plus d'informations)
Membre:ahepperger
Titre:Dalkey Archive
Auteurs:Flann O'Brien (Auteur)
Info:Dalkey Archive Pr (1993), Edition: Rep, 192 pages
Collections:Wien
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L'Archiviste de Dublin par Flann O'Brien (1964)

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Every O'Brien novel I've read has been really funny, and The Dalkey Archive is no different. The book centers around Mick and his struggles: him and his friend Hackett's interactions with the mad scientist De Selby; his efforts to help James Joyce join the Jesuits; and his arms-length relationship with his girlfriend Mary. While it somewhat recycles a few plot elements of The Third Policeman (the De Selby character, policemen on bicycles), as well as the literary playfulness of At Swim-Two-Birds (James Joyce is a character suspected of not having written his own novels and desirous of becoming a priest), it has its own identity in the protagonist's struggles with religion and relationships. But irreverence is paramount, and aided by some of the most continuous drinking I've ever seen in a novel, O'Brien makes fun of Ireland, the Church, authorship, and just about everything else.

The De Selby plotline is the one I enjoyed the most. I could probably read about the "Mollycule Theory" forever:

"Every­thing is composed of small mollycules of itself and they are flying around in concentric circles and arcs and segments and innumerable various other routes too numerous to mention collectively, never standing still or resting but spinning away and darting hither and thither and back again, all the time on the go. Do you follow me intelligently? Mollycules? ... The gross and net result of it is that people who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky road­steads of the parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycles as a result of the interchanging of the mollycules of each of them, and you would be surprised at the number of people in country parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles.... And you would be unutterably flibbergasted if you knew the number of stout bicycles that partake serenely of humanity."

Never mind that De Selby is attempting to destroy the world with DMP, a lethal substance which also has the property of allowing conversation with important Christian religious figures. Mick and Hackett try some out, scuba diving along with De Selby to have an enlightening conversation with no less a personage than Saint Augustine. Much like in The Third Policeman, our hero plots a mission to retrieve the fatal supply, though not before using the theologically troubling revelations to engage in further barroom debate over Judas, the merits of various theologians, and other doctrinal disputes: is the bicycle/man duality similar to that between God and Jesus?

Probably the most important portions of the novel from a "literary" perspective are those of Joyce. Reams of analyses have been written about the most influential author in Irish history, but O'Brien's personal attitude toward Joyce is nowhere near as deferential as Brahms' artistic intimidation by his own famous predecessor, that "To follow in Beethoven's footsteps transcends one's strength". Mick's response to a question about why he wants to meet Joyce brings him firmly down to earth:

"I believe the picture of himself he has conveyed in his writings is fallacious. I believe he must be a far better man or a far worse. I think I have read all his works, though I admit I did not properly persevere with his play-writing. I consider his poetry meretricious and mannered. But I have an admiration for all his other work, for his dexterity and resource in handling language, for his precision, for his subtlety in conveying the image of Dublin and her people, for his accuracy in setting down speech authentically, and for his enormous humour."

In real life O'Brien was a famously under-achieving figure. That he makes Joyce a central figure, especially one who wants to join the Jesuits but is assigned the task of "in charge of the maintenance and repair of the Fathers' underclothes in all the Dublin residential establishments" is his own way of poking fun at the legends of literature, even as he pokes gentle fun at the trappings of religion. The Joyce character's ignorance of his fame, or even of authorship of his own works, is an interesting commentary on the unreality of fame to the famous, as well as a jab at Irish over-humility. Though Mick's eventual reconciliation and marriage to his pregnant girlfriend Mary is as serious an ending for an O'Brien protagonist as you'll find, I think his playful attitude towards life is best summed up by a limerick Hackett recites on learning that Mick has delusions of becoming a monk:

"There was a young monk of La Trappe
Who contracted a dose of the clap,
He said Dominus Vobiscum,
Oh why can't my piss come
There's something gone wrong with my... tap." ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Sometimes I start books on a dare. I think that the book is going to be inaccessible because the author has a reputation. I chose this one sort of at random, because I had heard many good things about 'At Swim Two Birds'. Later I found out that 'The Third Policeman' had many of the same themes as this book.

I enjoyed this book from the very beginning. It had a great sense of humour and it was quite surreal. Eventually I did go on to read the other two books mentioned, but I did not enjoy them as much as this one. ( )
  billycongo | Jul 22, 2020 |
I am not sure what I'm reading and the vernacular is strange.
But each time I pick up the Archive I fall right into the story. I am enjoying it but certain that I am not getting it.
  jent33 | Nov 7, 2013 |
I feel like I have so much to say about this book, though I don't. The first third could be classified as the most fascinating story I've ever read. From there, it gets weird, a bit confusing, and a touch tedious. "Is the main character crazy? Am I??" you might wonder at several points. Many of the words will require a trip to the dictionary - 33% of those words will be defined for you (unless you are from Ireland, in which case, awesome!). I love and am confused by this book. It'll need to be read again, which I'm fairly sure I'm looking forward to? In the meantime, I intend to think the hell out of it. ( )
  annmariestover | Apr 4, 2013 |
This one goes in my weirdly wonderful category along with Mrs. Caliban. Not they are really anything alike, except that they are very odd. Way too much fun. ( )
2 voter lucybrown | Jan 20, 2011 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
O'Brien, Flannauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionsconfirmé
Bottini, AdrianaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Chuliá García, M. JoséTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Reumaux, PatrickTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Rowohlt, HarryTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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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."

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