Heaven or Hell: Two literary journeys in the afterlife

Early warning:

This is a post that analyses themes in two books – Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman and JM Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. There will be reference to the plots, including the endings, of both books so beware of spoilers!

Hell has been imagined in many circumstances. Heaven, perhaps less often, has been used as a plot device or a theme for artistic creation. The dichotomy of “eternal suffering Vs eternal bliss”, in whatever form these two things take shape, is a common theme in religious teachings, and has also been used to form philosophical theory in literature. After recently reading JM Coetzee’s divine The Childhood of Jesus I was reminded of Flann O’Brien’s devilishly good satire The Third Policeman, and this post is an analysis of the concepts of heaven and hell through these two works of literature. Continue reading “Heaven or Hell: Two literary journeys in the afterlife”