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"Treating the Literary Literally:" The Reflexive Structure of Flann O’Brien’s ... - page 3 / 50

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ABSTRACT

Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds is a complex reflexive novel that explores the creation of fiction. O’Brien’s layered narrative includes several author/characters, each with his own literary theory. This discussion traces O’Brien’s reflexive structure’s development and demonstrates its repercussions on the characters within the novel, and the novel as a whole. Beginning by placing O’Brien’s novel within a critical framework, this study examines each of the four narrative levels and the uses of reflexivity in each. O’Brien builds and dismantles several structures within his narrative levels, and this thesis shows that the basic reflexive structure of At Swim-Two-Birds is the only remaining structure at the novel’s end.

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