That said, the third book, Ancient Light, should be read only after you've read both Shroud and Eclipse.(less)
In this book we have an academic scholar, a specialist on Nietzsche. He’s an old man, recently widowed. He’s in ill health and he has secrets. This late in life, a young woman has discovered some? all? of his secrets and threatens to expose him. He agrees to fly from California to Turin to meet with her. He wonders: does it even matter at this poi ...more
What is fiction and what is reality?
Nietzsche affirms that “there exists neither “spirit”, nor reason, nor thinking, nor consciousness, nor soul, nor will, nor truth: all are fictions.”
What is hallucinati ...more
The smoothest prose in the business. One does not so much read Banville as float luxuriously in his velvet sentences. And he shows himself in Shroud as a master at the slow reveal. It's like hearing Bolero or Nina Simone in Little Girl Blue, ever so gradually approaching a climax that you do and don't want to arrive. Every detail and slight reversal coming at just the right moment so the beat is never missed even as it becomes more forceful and impulsive. A story of the complex, long ...more
“Media vita in morte sumus”
Shroud. White and pristine. Or soiled with blood and other bodily secretions.
Shroud. Perhaps a bed-sheet, on which life has been created, delivered, or ended.
Shroud. For binding, putting away, and death.
Shroud. Separation or disguise: everything hazy, faded, muffled, and detached.
Cass Cleave often detaches - from Axel Vander, from her father, and from reality.
The main narrative is set in Turin, home of the famous Shroud, and site of Shelley’s drowning. It is the ...more
This one is a complex story full of allusions, and I suspect I missed many of them. Most of the book is narrated by "Axel Vander", an elderly widowed academic who was born in Belgium a ...more
sorry, this is a stub review without quotes, as I managed once again to lose my electronic footnotes and bookmarks in the text. e-ink is a wonderful technology, but it still has some kinks left to straighten up. I am especially peeved this happened with my first John Banville novel, as I was both enthusiastic and baffled by the text.
The title is an oblique reference to the famous holy / faked image of Christ captured in blood on an ancient piece of fabric and stored in a shrine in Turin, Italy. ...more
I recognized and enjoyed the allusions to mythological gods and oracles and shrouds of all kinds, and the musing on the nature of identity(-ies), but I still felt as if I missed a lot, especially after reading the acknowledgments (at the end of the book) to Althusser and Paul De ...more
Shroud is a tale about identity and mentality… Do we ourselves know who we are?
“The voices in her head started up then, as she had known they would, as they always did when she was uncertain or nervous, seizing their chance. It was as if a motley and curious crowd had fallen into step behind her, hard on her heels, and were discussing her and her plight among themselve ...more
This being the first book I have read by John Banville, I am impressed by his skill and ability to craft such a brilliant unreliable narrator as his protagonist is. Axel Vander, is a rude, self-absorbed, self-important, selfish individual who for the most part talks and thinks so ...more
All three books operate like separate stories but are very much intertwined. Having said this, once y ...more
But there is a twist that kept me turning ...more
Opening: WHO speaks? It is her voice, in my head. I fear it will not stop until I stop. It talks to me as I haul myself along theses cobbled streets, telling me things I do not want to hear,
4* The Sea
TR THe Book of Evidence
2* Ancient Light
3* Prague Pictures
"I am not the first to have exclaimed upon the pleasures of life in wartime London. I do not mean the great, new, warm sense of communality everyone is supposed to have felt, the keeping up of peckers ('keep your chin up' in Britain) and home-fires burning and all the rest of that twaddle; no, what I am thinking of is the licence, voluptuous and languid, with just a whiff of brimstone to it, that was ...more
‘Alex Vander’ seems to be an academic who assumed the identity of the real Vander just after Kristallnacht when he returned home to find his parents gone and his own life at risk. ...more
Impressive and disappointing.
Part I is very exciting--Paul de Man in the voice and body of a Beckett cripple. The malevolence and disdain may feel a little borrowed, but no one will deny the facility with which it is carried off. Fun language, fun thought. The story of a man who took the name of a beautiful Aryan friend to escape Nazi Europe, even though the dead, beautiful, wealthy friend wrote a few anti-Semitic newspaper articles. Then the changeling goes on to reach the heights of academia a...more
Shroud is a story of unreliable narrators and hidden pasts. Axel Vander having survived the Nazis has made a life for himself as a famous author living in American, yet Axel is not who he claims to be and one day the letter he has been half expecting his whole life arrives. The letter is from a young woman Cass Cleave who (in true horror movie style) claims to know what he did...
Cass uses her knowledge of his past to summon Axel to Turin a town where he has several old co ...more
The character narrating the story is despicable. Seen through the eyes of the narrator, other characters are also extraordinarily unattractive.
So, why read this book? My response is that it is a privilege to read such a writer.
I think the work has the similar attraction and fascination that one might have for a beautiful but deadly spider.
The writing is in a craft of its own, the author having complete con ...more