I think I've mentioned here before that I once met one of the employees of the Dalkey Archive press at an ABA convention (though I failed to score any free books), and that my mom occasionally converses with him in her capacity as buyer for a few choiceworthy independent bookstores. Well, today she told me that he had told her that some interesting trivia regarding their perhaps best-known author, Flann O'Brien, had been unearthed, and, she having conveyed same to me, I hereby convey same to you.
It seems that At Swim-Two-Birds underwent stark revisions, and the published version is almost impossible to find in the original text, of which only the title remains to indicate its zoophilic scheme—all the characters are animals, and, as is common in such works, bear names indicating their species. The novel only acquired its Hibernian bent, Chad said the people who've read over the early drafts speculate, when O'Brien was working over one of the novel's most memorable set-pieces, which survives in modified form into the final version—the one featuring the poem of many authors, "A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man". Except originally, the creatures gathered 'round and sang a quite different verse (what exactly it is is rather uninteresting), while, in the background, a germanic bovine of the female persuasion, against whose broadside five fifties of fosterlings could play handball, munched her cud in somnolent sleep, the clicking of her teeth providing a regular metrical backdrop. However, their recitation reached such a volume that she was awoken, indeed was wroth, to such an extent that third-personal self-reference was indicated, and she loudly demanded of the assembly: WHO DARES DISTURB KUH CHEWIN?