The Third Policeman: Audio

Hell goes round and round. In shape it is circular, and by nature it is interminable, repetitive, and nearly unbearable.

The Third Policeman is a novel by Irish writer Brian O’Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien. It was written between 1939 and 1940, but 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 The book remained unpublished at the time of his death in 1966.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.

I am completely half afraid to think.

It 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.”

What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness.

Patrick Magee

Patrick Magee

If you have read it, then you are probably planning to read it again at some point – if you have not read it then you should be strongly persuaded to do so. In either eventuality, I have stumbled upon a rather good reading of the book by the actor Patrick Magee, which is available to stream or download from the treasure trove which is the Internet Archive – point your browser to this page for the good stuff…

Strange enlightenments are vouchsafed to those who seek the higher places.




(All quotes are from The Third Policeman. Duh.)


Born in the fifties, Londoner, cyclist (exenger), collector of 7" vinyl, DJ (dance-floor & radio), lover of malt whisky, slaphead, mystic, atheist, Dadaoist, thief, liar, cheat.