restricted access Nonsense, Ordinary Language Philosophy, and Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

This essay compares Flann O'Brien's literary experiments in nonsense with the contemporary investigation of nonsense being conducted by philosophers at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford around the same time, under the auspices of what would become known as ordinary language philosophy. The approach to nonsense developed in the 1930s and 1940s by ordinary language philosophers like Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin is pertinent to our understanding of O'Brien's literary nonsense, not only for what it reveals about his literary technique, but also for the light it sheds on his cultural historical positioning as a novelist writing in the immediate aftermath of high modernism.