The Hard Life

The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor is a comic novel by Flann O'Brien (pen name of Brian O'Nolan). Published in 1961, it was O'Brien's fourth novel and the third to be published. (He wrote The Third Policeman in 1939, but it was published only posthumously, in 1967). Set in turn-of-the-century Dublin, The Hard Life is a satirical Bildungsroman that deals with the education and upbringing of the narrator, Finbarr, and his brother Manus. The novel offers a mocking critique of certain representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the development of Irish identity and the functioning of formal education. The novel was initially very popular, with its first print run selling out within forty-eight hours (p. 271), and it has been republished several times in Ireland, Britain and the United States, both as a stand-alone work and, most recently, in Flann O'Brien: The Complete Novels (Everyman's Library, 2007).[1]

The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor
First edition
AuthorFlann O'Brien
GenreComic novel
PublisherMacGibbon & Kee
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages157 pp.