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The Sea

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  13,238 ratings  ·  1,386 reviews
Tras la reciente muerte de su esposa después de una larga enfermedad, el historiador de arte Max Morden se retira a escribir al pueblo costero en el que de niño veraneó junto a sus padres. Pretende huir así del profundo dolor por la reciente pérdida de la mujer amada, cuyo recuerdo le atormenta incesantemente.

El pasado se convierte entonces en el único refugio y consuelo...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Picador (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I think there's a big difference between literature and fiction, and this book is a perfect example - as is obvious from the number of negative reviews posted on this website! Some books can be read purely for their entertainment value. We like reading them because the plots and settings and characters capture our interest. That's what fiction does. But some books provide an additional dimension for readers who are willing to put a little more time and thought into what they are reading and who...more
Sep 27, 2014 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who don't want to forget.
Shelves: read-in-2013
"And I, who timidly hate life, fear death with fascination."Livro do desassossego, Fernando Pessoa

“Perhaps all of life is no more than a long preparation for the leaving of it” proclaims Max Morten, narrator and main character of The Sea, after his wife Anna passes away victim of a long and enduring illness.
Drowning in the grief which comes with the vast and ruthless sea of loss, he decides to seclude himself in the little coastal village where he spent his summers as a boy. A flood of unavoidab...more
The Sea really bugged me. I've never read another John Banville novel, so I don't know whether this one is typical of his writing in general, but nothing irritates me more these days than a writer who has considerable gifts at his command who writes novels that function as elegant window displays for the considerable gifts at his command. The plot of the book, such as it is, finds middle-aged Max Morden retiring to a rented house by the sea, near the "chalets" where he spent his boyhood summers,...more
Nov 04, 2011 Jay rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jay by: Man Booker 2005 Winner
When my wife died suddenly in 1998 from a cerebral aneurysm, one of the things that I did in the wake of her death was to begin to reconnect with people and places that had meaning both for us as a couple and for me alone. In many cases, I ended up returning to places from my own childhood and reconnecting with people whom I had not contacted for years. Both the process itself and the actual reconnections to past places and friends helped me cope with the loss. It also activated memories that I...more
I actually put this book in the same category as James Frey's "Million Little Pieces": so bad, it was enjoyable to read. But of course this was bad in entirely more ambitious, pretentious ways than Frey could ever achieve. It's been about two years since I read this, so forgive my lack of specificity, but I'll try to pin down some examples of appalling devices that both rankled and tickled me.

-Balliteration: Banville, perhaps due to his over fondness for the first letter of his last name (as ot...more
Reading John Banville is like taking a long, sumptuous bath. In my book, he is one of the finest prose stylists alive. The man can write. His language and sentences are gorgeous.

I’d like to say Banville is a marvel at describing characters but in fact he’s a marvel at describing everything, from a breeze to a rain barrel:

“It was a wooden barrel, a real one, full-size, the staves blackened with age and the iron hoops eaten to frills by rust. The rim was nicely bevelled, and so smooth that one cou...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Description: When Max Morden returns to the coastal town where he spent a holiday in his youth he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma.

The Grace family appear that long ago summer as if from another world. Drawn to the Grace twins, Chloe and Myles, Max soon finds himself entangled in their lives, which are as seductive as they are unsettling. What ensues will haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that is to follow.

Stephen M
Prose style: 2
Plot : 2
Depth of characters: 2
Overall sense of aesthetic: 1
Originality: 3
Entertaining: 1
Emotional Reaction: 1
Intellectual Stimulation: 3
Social Relevance: 2
Writerly Inspiration: 1

Average = 1.8

I think this suffers from one basic writerly technique; describe what something is, not what something is like. If there were characters, a story or some kind of dramatic tension in this pile of high brow prattle, it was buried underneath the weight of endless adjectives and billowy senten...more
Mar 01, 2008 Frank rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Banville's Mother
What in the hell just happened. Did I really trudge through all that overly-wrought prose only to curse Banville for producing the hint of redemption in the end of this thesaurus-spawn mud puddle? Thank you Booker Prize for yet another quality laugh. Here's a quality quote for those in doubt:

"seeming not to walk but bounce, rather, awkward as a half-inflated barrage balloon buffeted by successive breath-robbing blows out of the past."

You've got to be kidding me John: here here I say to b'alliter...more
I myself have lived near the edge of the sea for almost half a century, but I will never again regard the sea the same way after reading John Banville's The Sea. This is one of those rare books where you will keep coming back to its first line: "They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide."

The place is Ballyless, a hardscrabble coastal town with some cheap "chalets" in which dwell the lower classes, including the family of Max Gorner, the book's narrator. Nearby is a seaside cottage...more
Mar 04, 2012 David marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm reasonably confident that I will never read this book, but I'm definitely clipping Barry Forshaw's incandescent review as fodder for my collection of hackneyed review cliches.

In three taut, elegant paragraphs, Forshaw leaves the reader breathless, stunned by the vacuous pomposity of his unusually moribund parade of bloviated buzzwords. Never one to eschew the sesquipedalian latinate impenetrability, Forshaw deploys them throughout his review with laserlike precision and beautifully text...more
The Sea is one of those rare books that I not only gave up on, but actually sold to a second-hand shop afterwards. Booker Prize winner, highly lauded in rec.arts.books and a handful of internet forums that I frequented in those days, and a pastel pastiche of hyper-pictorial pablum. Frankly, I don't remember a whole lot of this very brief excursion into Banvillea other than the endless, and I do mean endless descriptions and depictions of the sky—the shape and color of the clouds, whether it was...more
In a stream of thoughts, the narrator whose wife has just died of cancer, centers his memories around a childhood seaside summer and his relationship with the Graces, a family that bewildered and fascinated him. He leaves his nearby home to stay in the house that the Graces occupied that summer. This has set off a flood of memories, both vivid and half-remembered.

His childhood lot is that of the lowest echelon of classes in that seaside community, while the Graces are of the highest. He cannot...more
My first Banville novel. It is very playfully written, twists and turns around place and identity, and is deeply moving. It is a meditation on loss, death and the sea of indifferent time. Also the real sea, a real place, and real people who seem more real to the narrator than he can ever feel himself to be. Max Morden, windowed, drinking heavily and very lonely retires to a somewhat shabby guesthouse that was the centre of events in his childhood. Set among an equally shabby Irish resort, in win...more
Sep 09, 2012 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: John
I was only able to get this book from my local library in the large print version, and whilst at first this was a distraction, soon it became an integral part of the larger-than-life, intense lyricism of the book. It made me read more slowly, (and I did, and sometimes I read over and over again), and it helped me enjoy the crystal clarity and endless sensitivity of this writer.

It’s a story about a widower, Max Morden, still fumbling around in the trauma of the loss of his wife, going back to sta...more
Jenny O
I trust that the Booker Prize judges are far wiser than I am with literary matters, but this was one of the most disappointing reads ever. I really didn't enjoy this book at all. I felt like I was reading a manuscript turned in for a writers workshop, not an award-winning book. And I don't mean a writers workshop at Iowa either. More like an MFA program at some state school.

Want to see what I mean? Here's an excerpt:
"It was very strange. I saw the scene as if from outside myself, the dining roo...more
Moses Kilolo
"And indeed nothing had happened, a momentous nothing, just another of the great world's shrugs of indifference (P. Last)."

Beautiful language, eh? Well, despite it and my awe of it, this took me quite a while to get to the end. I naturally immersed myself into the deep and highly stylized memory (or is it the invention) of Banville's narrator Modern. I felt the heaviness of his mourning his wife lost to cancer, and slightly pitied him of the strained relation with his daughter. The book only see...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 05, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Artsy People - Man Booker Prize believers
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker Prize List
Shelves: 501, 1001-core
This is my third Man Booker awardee novel. I liked The Life and Times of Michael K (J. M. Coetzee) and The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) but sadly I did not like the plot of this. However, the poetic prose is too arresting for me to just drop the book and start a new one. Also, I never started and not finished any book. I always make sure that I finish any book that I started reading. I think one should not judge a book by reading just a portion of it. Giving a review for a book partly read...more
“Elegiac” is one of those literary adjectives, having to do with death. You get your fill of that with this one. Hell, the main character is named Max Morden, so what do you expect? Unfortunately, the better written an elegiac novel is, the sadder it seems.

Banville, it’s fair to say, is a writer’s writer. This one got him a Booker Prize, so, lit cred out the wazoo, right? (I love playing the lowbrow in the face of such splendid erudition.) Actually, I can see how highbrows might value The Sea f...more
When John McGahern died last year, I wondered if I would find someone to replace him as my favorite living Irish author. I think that John Banville comes close. His use of language is impeccable, especially in his descriptions of characters. In The Sea, the lovable, pitiable (is that a word?) narrator, Max, is a writer who returns to the seaside town of his youth after his wife dies. Using flashbacks, we learn the complex story of his first love(s), which revolves around a wealthy family that he...more
I can honestly say that I gave this book everything I had and it was far from enough. I read to exactly halfway then allowed myself the freedom to shut it quickly. I did prevent myself from spitting on it, or burning it. Which wouldn't have been good since it is rented from the library. *smirks*

This is my first attempt at reading off the 1001 books you must read before you die list. I will try again at some point. But right now I feel I just must not be on the same level of literary genius as so...more
Apr 25, 2009 Aaron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People probably a lot older than me. Or who just like really good writing.
Shelves: character, idea, setting
There are two kinds of myth. One, the common kind, is reserved for tales like The Odyssey and other old tales, and perpetutaed in modernity by the concepts set forth in Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces. These myths rely on content, that is the nature of the tale, to bring them to such a legendary level. That is not to say that their method of telling is not of mythic calibre, just that their content is why they are defined as such.

Then there is the other breed, in which the writing...more
this novel seems to be of the love-it-or-hate-it variety, judging by others' reviews of it. personally, i loved it. in fact, i loved it much more than both on beauty by zadie smith and never let me go by kazuo ishiguro, both of which it beat out to win the 2005 booker prize. this novel is told in stream-of-consciousness format by an aging irishman whose wife has recently died; he skips around through memories of various stages of his life, primarily a summer he spent at the sea when he was eleve...more
Initially this novel drew me in with its rich prose and methodical pace. In fact, the Sea's style and tone reminded me at first of Marilyn Robinson's Gilead, which I loved. Both novels follow an elderly man as he contemplates the choices he has made throughout his life and considering the impact of those decisions on his life. However unlike Gilead, which uses rich language to demonstrate the complexity of the character's feelings towards his relationships, the Sea lacks strong character develop...more
Jim Elkins
What does it mean to be able to write so gorgeously -- to be apparently incapable of writing normally, like an ordinary novelist, and to perennially attract clichés like 'lush,' 'beautiful,' 'mesmerizing,' 'virtuouso' -- and yet be hopelessly, permanently incapable of giving a novel drive, impetus, force, tension, forward movement: and to know that you never can, and to make a virtue of that fault, constructing books that seem to require lassitude, torpor, mulling and meditation, and then, perha...more
I started this on my lunch hour yesterday, after seeing it on my recommendations list, and finished it just after Mike got home from work late last night. (Remember that I've previously said I shouldn't read at home because, when I do, nothing gets done...)

Banville's book was written for me to read. It is simply, harrowingly amazing. Each word, each phrase, each sentence is a literary delight and the only reason it took me 5 hours to read this book was because I kept re-reading passag...more
"but then, at what moment, of all our moments, is life not utterly, utterly changed, until the final, most momentous change of all." i nodded my head to that sentence after i read it and then my telephone rang. i marked the page with a torn new yorker subscription card. what better place than this tiny white box to put this so it can be said and then deleted. I nodded yes to that sentence and then last night my telephone rang and it was my mother. small and one thousand miles away. the blood tes...more
Simply a beautifully crafted novella full of concise writing using themes of middle age and loss. It has been such a treat to read his words, tightly written yet convey to the reader a beautiful minds' eye scene with nearly every sentence. The autumnal setting is crucial to the story, but Banville escapes the obvious cliche pitfalls of such a plot device, instead he realizes for us the feeling of middle age, life half or near over reminiscing our youth as a summer with it's beauty and a first hi...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Amongst the most accomplished contemporary prose stylists of his generation, Banville succeeded in providing another understated but haunting tale.

Art historian Max Morden returns to the holiday seaside village of his childhood where memories of his relationship with the charismatic Grace family and its repercussions are reawakened.

Previously only short-listed, Banville managed on this occassion to produce an hypnotic and disturbing Booker Prize winner.
What a magnificent book, I am glad my library has one copy of this unforgettable book.

This is the story of Max Morden who, while he is mourning the loss of his wife, remembers his childhood in a seaside town. These flashbacks don't many any breaks into the narrative, on the contrary, we are able to follow Max's good and bad moments of his entire life.

Now, I must read more books written by this author.
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Fiction parodies: John Banville - A short parody 1 9 Apr 07, 2014 03:30PM  
The Sea - language 25 142 Jan 20, 2014 07:29PM  
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Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up...more
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“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” 104 likes
“Life, authentic life, is supposed to be all struggle, unflagging action and affirmation, the will butting its blunt head against the world's wall, suchlike, but when I look back I see that the greater part of my energies was always given over to the simple search for shelter, for comfort, for, yes, I admit it, for cosiness. This is a surprising, not to say shocking, realisation. Before, I saw myself as something of a buccaneer, facing all-comers with a cutlass in my teeth, but now I am compelled to acknowledge that this was a delusion. To be concealed, protected, guarded, that is all I have ever truly ever wanted, to burrow down into a place of womby warmth and cower there, hidden from the sky's indifferent gaze and the air's harsh damagings. That is why the past is just such a retreat for me, I go there eagerly, rubbing my hands and shaking off the cold present and the colder future. And yet, what existence, really, does it have, the past? After all, it is only what the present was, once, the present that is gone, no more than that. And yet.” 22 likes
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