Michael's Reviews > The Infinities
The Infinities (Borzoi Books)
by John Banville
by John Banville
Mar 12, 10
Read in March, 2010
I cannot resist reading Banville aloud. His command of prose style is without equal among contemporary writers in English. When Banville uses a comma, it is for a very good reason and must be read to preserve the rhythm of the sentence as well as the sense. Despite the beauty of his prose, which borders often on poetry, he is playful in The Infinities with both characters and readers, as befits a comedy. One can, in fact, read this novel as a play. It is, in part, a restaging of Amphitryon, complete with the neoclassical "Aristotelian unities" of action, place, and time. But which Amphitryon does Banville intend to replicate, the burlesque of Plautus, Kleist's nod to Moliere, or one of the later German productions? There is, I suspect, something of them all in this delightful tale, and not a little of Shakespeare as well. Is this Arden, where the twenty-four hour duration of the novel transpires, in an alternate universe (one of the infinities discovered by the comatose mathematician, Adam Godley, around whom the action turns), or is that even a meaningful question, given Godley's "Brahma [ब्रह्मा:] hypothesis"? Or should it have been the "Brahman [ब्रह्मन्:] hypothesis? "Et in Arcadia ego" with which the novel begins is soon reframed as "Et in Arcadia ille" with a sly wink at Grimmelshausen's Simplicius Simplicissimus. Although a comedy by classical definition and replete with modern comedic elements, Banville's novel tackles some very serious questions about family relationships, the meaning of life, and the nature of reality. It is a delight in an infinite number of ways and highly recommended.
Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Infinities.sign in »