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(The Cleave Trilogy #2)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,237 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Axel Vander is an old man, in ill health, recently widowed, a scholar renowned for both his unquestionable authority and the ferocity and violence that often mark his conduct. He is known to be Belgian by birth, to have had a privileged upbringing, to have made a perilous escape from World War II–torn Europe—his blind eye and dead leg are indelible reminders of that time. ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Hamish You can. The two novels occur essentially simultaneously and feature none of the same characters. There is a character in Shroud that is connected wit…moreYou can. The two novels occur essentially simultaneously and feature none of the same characters. There is a character in Shroud that is connected with the characters in Eclipse. If you read Eclipse first, there will be a plot development in Shroud that you will be well aware of in advance, and vice versa. Depending on which you read first, you'll have a slightly different reading experience, but neither strikes me as preferable to the other.

That said, the third book, Ancient Light, should be read only after you've read both Shroud and Eclipse.(less)

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Jim Fonseca
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-authors
Banville likes to write about people with identity issues. I recently read his The Untouchable about a British spy in the Cold War who is secretly gay.

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
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The other one in you
Recommended to Dolors by: Deea
Shelves: dost, read-in-2015
Banville keeps playing with words and intention. He teases and probes, mocks and beguiles, baffles and enlightens with his darkly pleasant wordplay. A pattern of recurrent symbols drenched with double entendres, the deliberate use of anagrams, of menacing coincidences, of literary connections.
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
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish
Proper Names

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

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
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of The Mookse and the Gripes group's project to revisit the 2002 Man Booker longlist. This was one of the longlisted books that missed the cut. It is also the second part of a trilogy that includes Eclipse and Ancient Light, which are both books I have read, but too long ago to remember clearly.

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
Violet wells
Often a writer will express with sculptured eloquence an idea or an impression one has had oneself but never clearly formulated. Twice, early on, Banville did the opposite. He took an idea and an impression I have and got it completely wrong! This is a descriptive passage of a night-time train journey across Europe - “The train kept stopping at deserted stations and would stand for long minutes, creaking and sighing in the night-deep, desolate silence.” Desolate? No! I often get the Paris to Flo ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those willing to journey into the past with a character
Senility, the sickness of old age that most have yet to worry about, and yet those who do need to worry, avoid it like the plague it is. I can't relate to Axel Vander's age and celebrity, nor can I relate to his place of childhood, and yet I was lured by this exquisite story that seemingly drags along in lengthy paragraphs and conscious thought, with Proustian references to Swann's Way and memory. I don't even like Vander, still he manages to keep me intrigued; in fact at some point, I even find ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

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.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I think I enjoyed this book more than the only other Banville I've read so far, Eclipse, and I recognize its merits, as I did with Eclipse, I still can't say I really like it (4 stars) as opposed to just liking it.

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
Vit Babenco
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“History is a hotchpotch of anecdotes, neither true nor false, and what does it matter where it is supposed to have taken place?”
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
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: identity, madness
Shroud is the second novel in John Banville's father-and-daughter trilogy involving Alexander and Cassandra Cleave, and can be read as a companion to Banville's novel, Eclipse. (Ancient Light is the third novel in the trilogy.) Whereas Cassandra appeared in Eclipse through her father's melancholy reflections of his estranged and possibly schizophrenic daughter, she appears in Shroud through the dreamlike reflections of her lover, Axel Vander, an aging European intellectual. Much of the novel tel ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea while reading this book that it was part of a trilogy, together with "Ancient Light" and "Eclipse". I read "Ancient Light" a while ago and although the characters' names from "Shroud" seemed somehow familiar, I thought that it was just my memory playing tricks on me. I was amazed to find out that Cass Cleave here is the daughter of the main character from "Ancient Light" and that Axel Vander is the Axel Vander from "Ancient Light". However, it does not matter much: the story there ...more
Raul Bimenyimana
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
An old renown writer going by the name of Axel Vander receives an anonymous letter, someone has found his secret, which is, he is not what he purports to be. It is from here, that the unfolding of the protagonist begins.

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
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-lit
Sandwiched between Eclipse and Ancient Light this masterfully crafted tale that tells the story of Axel Vander, the pivotal character of the trilogy. Vander is a real cad; boozer, womanizer and vain beyond belief but he has a secret. Yet under Banville’s skillful words, my disgust for Vander turns as the tale unravels. But so are his characters, all who are flawed but so very interesting as well.

All three books operate like separate stories but are very much intertwined. Having said this, once y
Julie Christine
I have a hard time assigning stars to this review. Whereas I was mesmerized by Banville's writing, I found this story and the characters dismal. Axel Vander evoked by pity and revulsion and had not one redeeming quality that I can recall. "Miss Nemesis" was pathetic and cruel. Even the gracious setting of Turin (thus, the most obvious reference in the title "Shroud") couldn't lift the oppressive cloud of lethargy and depression that permeated this novel.

But there is a twist that kept me turning
I love Irish fiction and John Banville is not only one of Ireland’s best prose stylists, he’s one of the best prose stylists writing today. He’s not a well-known author, and unfortunately, I doubt that he’ll ever be on the top of the bestseller list (unless as Benjamin Black), though he certainly deserves to be. His books are masterpieces of style; they are highly introspective, character driven stories of men who have attempted to build lives on the basis of fraud and deceit, only to see those ...more
Infada Spain
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
...that was certainly my least favourite Banville!
Kristine Brancolini
I read Shroud because I finished Ancient Light late last year and I was missing John Banville. Shroud features one of the most unpleasant protagonists I have ever encountered, Axel Vander. Ugh. During Part 1 of this three-part novel, I was propelled by Banville's gorgeous prose, but in Part 2, I realized that like Victor Maskell in The Untouchable, there is more to Axel than the face he shows the world. Cold, miserable, hateful. That's Axel in Part 1. But then we see the other Axel. All is revea ...more
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Banville writes beautiful prose, and he deals with serious themes. I can't help feel, however, that he's in danger of writing the same story over and over. Don't get me wrong, this is a very good book, but it is another ornate, precise, heavily allusive novel about an elderly male character who is the unreliable narrator of his own story, whose identity is fluid, and who spends a lot of time reflecting on the themes of truth, representation, and memory. Now, I love all those techniques and theme ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Exquisitely well-written, like anything by Banville, layered with thought-provoking and sometimes nearly metafictional musings on identity, performance and authenticity. However, a lesser Banville for its rather self-indulgent portrayal of a sudden, more or less inexplicable passion between an old academic lion and a young deer-in-the-headlights who has unearthed a secret from his past. Poor Cass, she feels less like a believable character than a sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy, like the one Ec ...more
Description: Axel Vander, celebrated academic and man of culture, is spending his twilight years on the west coast of America. For decades he has lived with the knowledge of a tragedy of which he was both perpetrator and victim.

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 Shroud
TR THe Book of Evidence
2* Ancient Light
3* Prague Pictures
Debbie Robson
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read with surprise a UK review of Shroud by John Banville. It was quite critical saying that “a couple of passages midway point take the narrative clean off its hinges...a lesion in the book’s reality that never fully heals over.” The reviewer cites the main problem being Banville’s management of the points of view, particularly the merging of the two POVs in the middle of the novel. I noted the merging while reading it but found that it was (for me anyway) quite in keeping with the general to ...more
Thomas M.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A masterfully written novel. Duplicity, broken bodies and souls, not much happiness beyond this:

"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
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bravo, maestro! Banville is indeed "Hypnotic... Demonstrates the continuing relevance of words like artistry and masterpiece," according to the New York Times Book Review. As I think I say in every review of a Banville book, he is my new favorite contemporary author. His narrators are complex and complicated - rarely truthful, often thieves, reliably unreliable. This book is part of his favorite theme of exploring one's identity. Who are we truly? Although I didn't see it at first, "Shroud" is t ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
I don’t know what to make of this book. It has one of the most unpleasant narrators I’ve ever come across, and his preoccupations are mostly nauseating. Added to that, I can’t work out the significance of the title and its allusion to the Shroud of Turin, and I’m still not clear about what actually happened at the end.

‘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.
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For all those who love the use of great language in a book, "Shroud" and John Banville in general, is a must recommendation. It's just my second book by the author but I guess his style will be about the same in all his books. I already have another one to read in my home library and will look for more. Banville is a truly excellent writer, his prose is simply elegant and wonderful. He is often compared to Nabokov and I can see why. Sometimes he may seem eccentric or ironic either but there is n ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: italy
Shroud has possibly the most obnoxious narrator I can remember encountering. This alone made it difficult to warm to this novel. The rather pretentious prose irritated me as well. Considering how little happens in the story the writing is unrelentingly melodramatic. Not for me I’m afraid.

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

Book Wormy
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-read
Shroud John Banville

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
Ilyhana Kennedy
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is not an easy book to read and certainly not for entertainment. But it is brilliant.
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
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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

Other books in the series

The Cleave Trilogy (3 books)
  • Eclipse (The Cleave Trilogy #1)
  • Ancient Light (The Cleave Trilogy #3)

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