The Poor Mouth, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The classic satire from the renowned comic and acclaimed author of 'At Swim-Two-Birds' - Flann O'Brien.

Flann O'Brien's gloriously wicked satire of the traditional Irish peasant novel, The Poor Mouth tells the shamelessly ironic story of Bonaparte O'Coonassa, born in the West of Ireland 'on a terrible winter's night'.

A hymn to the world of potatoes, rain and 'excellent poverty', this cruelly funny assault on the fashionable Gaelic Revival of the day brought the wrath of the custodians of national sentiment upon O'Brien's head for many years thereafter.




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Review by

This is a strange little book. Of course, it is by Flann O’Brien, so why should anything but strange be expected. It is the story of the life of Bonaparte O’Coonassa, born to great poverty in Ireland. Bonaparte is not really anyone we like. He just exists in his poverty. We follow Bonaparte as he lives his life, finding good things, finding bad things, just finding things, because life just happens to him. Since I read this in English, separated by 70 years, I know I missed much of what this book says and the inherent humor. Yet, it is still just strange enough and funny enough to enthrall. And so I enjoyed it immensely. There are strange footnotes and strange drawings, and the entire thing parodies styles of writing with I am familiar and others not so much so.But it is fun. And it is in the vein one expects from O’Brien. I don’t know that I would use this book to introduce the reader to O’Brien, but then, which of his books would be a good “introduction”? Better, as with this book, to just jump in and hope you can swim.

Review by

At times very funny (e.g. the chapter where the ethnographer thinks the pig is speaking Gaelic), but the joke does begin to wear thin by the end.