Victor Maskell has been betrayed. After the announcement in the Commons and the hasty revelation of his double life of wartime espionage, his disgrace is public, his knighthood revoked, his position as curator of the Queen’s pictures terminated. There are questions to be answered. For whom has he been sacrificed? To what has he sacrificed his life? ‘The Untouchable is an engrossing, exquisitely written and almost bewilderingly smart book . . . It’s the fullest book I’ve read in a very long time, utterly accomplished, thoroughly readable, written by a novelist of vast talent’ Richard Ford, Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year ‘No novel burrowed deeper beneath my skin than The Untouchable . . . Prose of great elegance, applied to a sardonic narrative, created an atmosphere at once austere, chilling and utterly believable’ John Coldstream, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year ‘Banville is the most intelligent and stylish novelist currently at work in English . . . the mien is austere and Victorian; the awareness, the ironic readings of the contemporary are razor-sharp’ George Steiner, Observer ‘Brilliant displays of power and control . . . magnificently written and, in its exploration of inhumanity, startlingly humane’ Alex Clark, Guardian, Books of the Year
‘This is unequivocally a work of brilliance.’ Justin Cartwright, Spectator Old Adam Godley’s time on earth is drawing to an end, and as his wife and children gather at the family home, little do they realize that they are not the only ones who have come to observe the spectacle. The mischievous Greek gods, too, have come; as tensions fray and desire bubbles over, their spying soon becomes intrusion becomes intervention, until the mortals’ lives – right before their eyes – seem to be changing faster than they can cope with. Overflowing with bawdy humour, Banville has allowed his twinkling eye to rove through memories of the past and relationships of the present in this moving family drama. The Infinities is both a salacious delight and a penetrating exploration of the terrifying, wonderful, immutable plight of being human. ‘A poetic vision of boundless possibility.’ Literary Review ‘Full of dark humour and written with a deft eye for detail.’ GQ ‘This darkly comic and fearsomely clever creation is a heady delight’ Metro ‘Written in such saturatedly beautiful, luminous prose that every page delights, startles and uplifts.’ The Times
The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea gives us a brilliant, profoundly moving new novel about an actor in the twilight of his life and his career: a meditation on love and loss, and on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives.
Is there any difference between memory and invention? That is the question that fuels this stunning novel, written with the depth of character, the clarifying lyricism and the sly humor that have marked all of John Banville’s extraordinary works. And it is the question that haunts Alexander Cleave, an actor in the twilight of his career and of his life, as he plumbs the memories of his first--and perhaps only--love (he, fifteen years old, the woman more than twice his age, the mother of his best friend; the situation impossible, thrilling, devouring and finally devastating) . . . and of his daughter, lost to a kind of madness of mind and heart that Cleave can only fail to understand. When his dormant acting career is suddenly, inexplicably revived with a movie role portraying a man who may not be who he says he is, his young leading lady--famous and fragile--unwittingly gives him the opportunity to see with aching clarity the “chasm that yawns between the doing of a thing and the recollection of what was done.”
Ancient Light is a profoundly moving meditation on love and loss, on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives, on how invention shapes memory an memory shapes the man. It is a book of spellbinding power and pathos from one of the greatest masters of prose at work today.
From the Hardcover edition.
When art historian Max Morden returns to the seaside village where he once spent a childhood holiday, he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma. The Grace family had appeared that longago summer as if from another world. Mr and Mrs Grace, with their worldly ease and candour, were unlike any adults he had met before. But it was his contemporaries, the Grace twins Myles and Chloe, who most fascinated Max. He grew to know them intricately, even intimately, and what ensued would haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that was to follow. ‘A novel in which all of his remarkable gifts come together to produce a real work of art, disquieting, beautiful, intelligent, and in the end, surprisingly, offering consolation’ Allan Massie, Scotsman ‘You can smell and feel and see his world with extraordinary clarity. It is a work of art, and I’ll bet it will still be read and admired in seventyfive years’ Rick Gekoski, The Times ‘Poetry seems to come easily to Banville. There is so much to applaud in this book that it deserves more than one reading’ Literary Review ‘A brilliant, sensuous, discombobulating novel’ Spectator
‘A nearly perfectly fashioned work of art . . . The Newton Letter gave this reader such pleasurable excitement that he found it impossible to concentrate on anything until he had read it again to make sure that it seemed as good on the seconding reading. It did’ Irish Times A historian, on the brink of completing a book on Isaac Newton, rents a cottage in southern Ireland for the summer. As the summer wears on and he dissects Newton’s mental collapse of 1693 he becomes distracted by the mysterious occupants of Fern House and finds himself constructing their imagined histories to powerful effect. His elaborate attempts to decipher the complex web of relationships are, however, far from accurate . . . ‘How is one to convey halfadequately that Banville’s The Newton Letter is something out of the ordinary?’ Sunday Times ‘Banville’s prose has a dazzling amplitude and resource . . . a novelist of international calibre’ Boston Globe /p> ‘Very precise and evocative . . . full of teasing alignments and variations’ Financial Times Volume Three of the Revolutions Trilogy
‘Shroud will not be easily surpassed for its combination of wit, moral complexity and compassion. It is hard to see what more a novel could do’ Irish Times Axel Vander, distinguished intellectual and elderly academic, is not the man he seems. When a letter arrives out of the blue, threatening to unveil his secrets – and carefully concealed identity – Vander travels to Turin to meet its author. There, muddled by age and alcohol, unable always to distinguish fact from fiction, Vander comes face to face with the woman who has the knowledge to unmask him, Cass Cleave. However, her sense of reality is as unreliable as his, and the two are quickly drawn together, their relationship dark, disturbed and doomed to disaster from its very start. ‘In beautiful, lucid prose John Banville describes a tragedy so strongly rooted in history and character that, like all real tragedies, it could not happen otherwise’ The Times ‘The narrative frequently takes on the qualities of a dream, writhing with pursuits and escapes, peopled by shapeshifters and avatars, subject to its own climatic and topographical realities’ Guardian ‘A moving and shockingly intimate record of life lost and found again’ Time Out
‘A beautiful, beguiling book full of resonances that continue to sound long after you’ve turned the final page. Its imagining is magical, its execution dazzlingly skilful.’ Sunday Tribune Ghosts opens with a shipwreck, leaving a party of sightseers temporarily marooned on an island. The stranded castaways make their way towards the refuge of the isle’s reclusive savant; but the big isolated house which is home to Professor Silas Kreutznaer and his laconic assistant, Licht, is also home to another, unnamed presence . . . Onto this seemingly haunted island, where a strange singing hangs in the air, Banville drops a scrumptious cast of characters – including a murderer – and weaves a tale where the details are clear but the conclusion polymorphous – shifting appearances, transformations and thwarted assumptions make this world of uneasy calm utterly enthralling. ‘As fascinating, complex, stimulating and energetic as any work of art . . . A work which proves Banville as a master, the artist in total control of his craft’ The Times ‘John Banville’s funniest book . . . another triumph by our most outrageously inventive and daring novelist’ Sunday Independent ‘Makes this astonishingly attractive novelist one of the most important writers now at work in English – a key thinker, in fact, in fiction’ London Review of Books
John Banville, the Man Booker Prizewinning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, now gives us a new novelat once trenchant, witty, and shatteringabout the intricacies of artistic creation, about theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme (';O O O. An absurdity. You could hang me over the door of a pawnshop'), is a painter of some renown and a petty thief who has never before been caught and steals only for pleasure. Both art and the art of thievery have been part of his ';endless effort at possession,' but now he's pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well. Having recognized the ';man-killing crevasse' that exists between what he sees and any representation he might make of it, he has stopped painting. And his last act of thieverythe last time he felt its ';secret shiver of bliss'has been discovered. The fact that the purloined possession was the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend has compelled him to run awayfrom his mistress, his home, his wife; from whatever remains of his impulse to paint; and from a tragedy that has long haunted himand to sequester himself in the house where he was born. Trying to uncover in himself the answer to how and why things have turned out as they have, excavating memories of family, of places he has called home, and of the way he has apprehended the world around him (';one of my eyes is forever turning towards the world beyond'), Olly reveals the very essence of a man who, in some way, has always been waiting to be rescued from himself.From the Hardcover edition.
" Anna est morte avant l'aube. À dire vrai, je n'étais pas là quand c'est arrivé. J'étais allé sur le perron de la clinique respirer à fond l'air noir et lustré du matin. Et pendant ce moment si calme, si lugubre, j'ai repensé à un autre moment, des années auparavant, dans l'eau, ce fameux été à Ballymoins. J'étais allé nager tout seul, je ne sais pas pourquoi, ni où Chloé et Myles étaient passés ; sans doute étaient-ils partis quelque part avec leurs parents, ce devait être une des dernières balades qu'ils ont faites ensemble, la toute dernière peut-être. " Après la mort de sa femme, Max se réfugie dans le petit village du bord de mer où, enfant, il vécut l'été qui allait façonner le reste de son existence. Assailli par le chagrin, la colère, la douleur de la vie sans Anna, Max va comprendre ce qui s'est vraiment produit, cet été-là. Comprendre pourquoi " le passé cogne en lui, comme un second coeur ". " John Banville est l'un des plus grands écrivains de langue anglaise. Captivant de bout en bout, profondément émouvant, extrêmement pénétrant, La Mer est son chef-d'oeuvre. " Synopsis " L'un des meilleurs romans, et des plus humains, de ces dernières années. " The Observer
" Banville est sans conteste l'un des plus grands maîtres vivants de langue anglaise. Infinis est un exemple éblouissant de sa maîtrise, tout comme son humour érudit, audacieux et espiègle... "Los Angeles Times
Adam Godley, un brillant mathématicien - spécialiste de l'infinité des infinis, et de la possibilité d'univers parallèles - repose dans sa chambre, au seuil de la mort. Autour de lui, dans une maison à l'atmosphère oppressante, le veillent sa deuxième épouse, sa fille - une adolescente fragile -, son fils, accompagné de sa femme, Helen, une comédienne à la beauté troublante.En un jour, en un lieu, ce monde mortel et imparfait va recevoir la visite invisible des dieux de l'Olympe, des dieux à l'esprit facétieux, qui vont se plaire à prendre la place des humains pour satisfaire leurs désirs illicites. Zeus, follement épris d'Helen, se fera passer le temps d'une nuit pour son mari afin de jouir de ses charmes. Puis en prenant l'apparence de Rody, le fiancé de la fille d'Adam, il poursuivra son oeuvre de séduction.Hermès, le fils de Zeus, est le narrateur espiègle de cette tragi-comédie ensorcelante, qui évoque le Songe d'une nuit d'été, en illustrant la folie de l'amour et des actes qu'il peut nous pousser à commettre. Hermès se déguisera lui-même en fermier pour conquérir l'une des servantes, sans se soucier des conséquences. Ainsi la présence des dieux va bientôt faire exploser les tensions jusque-là silencieuses, exaspérer les drames, tandis qu'Adam, toujours mourant, revit dans son esprit le souvenir de ses années passées.En s'inspirant de l'Amphitryon de Kleist, Banville mêle les genres avec virtuosité, dans une langue iridescente et poétique. Le texte oscille constamment entre gravité et ironie. Le réel et le merveilleux se répondent, donnent une profondeur envoûtante au récit. En mêlant des questions métaphysiques et humaines, Banville ne cesse d'interroger le sens de notre existence, son mystère et sa beauté.
Oliver Orme, vous le savez sans doute, est un peintre dont le talent est reconnu dans le monde entier. Ce que vous ignorez encore, c'est qu'il a cessé de peindre, en proie à des doutes esthétiques. Et qu'il a passé sa vie à voler des choses de valeurs diverses à son entourage, non par cupidité mais par goût, éprouvant un plaisir quasi érotique à subtiliser des objets. L'un de ces objets subtilisés à d'autres, en l'occurrence à son ami Marcus, est Polly, dont il fait sa maîtresse. Mais, tout comme il a fui son épouse Gloria, il fi nit par la laisser un jour où il ressent le besoin de se réfugier dans sa maison natale, aussi délabrée soit-elle. Or bientôt Polly le retrouve, et leur histoire d'amour renaît de ses cendres. Entre passion, désillusion, jalousie et égoïsme, Oliver déverse le fl ux de ses pensées comme il brossait autrefois ses toiles, cherchant toujours le mot juste, pour être le plus vrai possible, si tant est que le vrai existe en ce monde.
In this brilliantly haunting new novel, John Banville forges an unforgettable amalgam of enchantment and menace that suggests both The Tempest and his own acclaimed The Book of Evidence. "A surreal and exquisitely lyrical new novel by one of the great stylists writing in English today."--Boston Globe.
John Banville';s stunning powers of mimicry are brilliantly on display in this engrossing novel, the darkly compelling confession of an improbable murderer.
Freddie Montgomery is a highly cultured man, a husband and father living the life of a dissolute exile on a Mediterranean island. When a debt comes due and his wife and child are held as collateral, he returns to Ireland to secure funds. That pursuit leads to murder. And here is his attempt to present evidence, not of his innocence, but of his life, of the events that lead to the murder he committed because he could. Like a hero out of Nabokov or Camus, Montgomery is a chillingly articulate, self-aware, and amoral being, whose humanity is painfully on display.
From the internationally acclaimed author of The Book of Evidence and Ghosts comes a mesmerizing novel that is both a literary thriller and a love story as sumptuously perverse as Lolita. "A strange and dreamlike book . . . Banville has a breathtaking style."--Boston Globe.
One part Nietzsche, one part Humbert Humbert, and a soupcon of Milton's Lucifer, Axel Vander, the dizzyingly unreliable narrator of John Banville's masterful new novel, is very old, recently widowed, and the bearer of a fearsome reputation as a literary dandy and bully. A product of the Old World, he is also an escapee from its conflagrations, with the wounds to prove it. And everything about him is a lie.
Now those lies have been unraveled by a mysterious young woman whom Vander calls "Miss Nemesis." They are to meet in Turin, a city best known for its enigmatic shroud. Is her purpose to destroy Vander or to save him--or simply to show him what lies beneath the shroud in which he has wrapped his life? A splendidly moving exploration of identity, duplicity, and desire, Shroud is Banville's most rapturous performance to date.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
On a languid midsummer's day in the countryside, old Adam Godley, a renowned theoretical mathematician, is dying. His family gathers at his bedside: his son, young Adam, struggling to maintain his marriage to a radiantly beautiful actress; his nineteen-year-old daughter, Petra, filled with voices and visions as she waits for the inevitable; their mother, Ursula, whose relations with the Godley children are strained at best; and Petra's "young man"--very likely more interested in the father than the daughter--who has arrived for a superbly ill-timed visit.
But the Godley family is not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a family of mischievous immortals--among them, Zeus, who has his eye on young Adam's wife; Pan, who has taken the doughy, perspiring form of an old unwelcome acquaintance; and Hermes, who is the genial and omniscient narrator: "We too are petty and vindictive," he tells us, "just like you, when we are put to it." As old Adam's days on earth run down, these unearthly beings start to stir up trouble, to sometimes wildly unintended effect. . . .
Blissfully inventive and playful, rich in psychological insight and sensual detail, The Infinities is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a wise look at the terrible, wonderful plight of being human--a dazzling novel from one of the most widely admired and acclaimed writers at work today.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this deeply moving and original book, John Banville alloys mystery, fable, and ghost story with poignant psychological acuity to forge the riveting story of a man wary of the future, plagued by the past, and so uncertain in the present that he cannot discern the spectral from the real.
When renowned actor Alexander Cleave was a boy living in a large house with his widowed mother and various itinerant lodgers, he encountered a strikingly vivid ghost of his father. Now that he's fifty and has returned to his boyhood home to recover from a nervous breakdown on stage, he is not surprised to find the place still haunted. He is surprised, however, at the presence of two new lodgers who have covertly settled into his old roost. And he is soon overwhelmed by how they, coupled with an onslaught of disturbing memories, compel him to confront the clutter that has become his life: ruined career, tenuous marriage, and troubled relationship with an estranged daughter destined for doom.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A collection of short stories from the early years of Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville’s career, Long Lankin explores the passionate emotions--fear, jealousy, desire--that course beneath the surface of everyday life. From a couple at risk of being torn apart by the allure of wealth to an old man’s descent into nature, the tales in this collection showcase the talents that launched Banville onto the literary scene. Offering a unique insight into the mind of “one of the great living masters of English-language prose” (Los Angeles Times), these nine haunting sketches stand alone as canny observations on the turbulence of the human condition.
The material collected here is a treasure trove, a fine retrospective and a comprehensive guide to the work of Ireland's greatest living novelist, John Banville. Selections are drawn from all of his novels, up to and including 2012's Ancient Light; each piece standing alone, short-story-like, but also resonating with those around it and representing the novel from which it comes. There are radio plays, some published in print for the first time here. There is a judicious selection of his essays and reviews. Perhaps most beguiling of all are the pieces of memoir, the early work (including Banville's first-ever piece of published fiction, from 1966) and the chance to see facsimiles of the handwritten first draft of the opening section of The Infinities. Possessed of a Past is an extraordinary document of the writer's life and work across nearly fifty years of practice, simultaneously offering the perfect introduction to Banville's sublime art and manna to devoted readers.
One of the most dazzling and adventurous writers now working in English takes on the enigma of the Cambridge spies in a novel of exquisite menace, biting social comedy, and vertiginous moral complexity. The narrator is the elderly Victor Maskell, formerly of British intelligence, for many years art expert to the Queen. Now he has been unmasked as a Russian agent and subjected to a disgrace that is almost a kind of death. But at whose instigation?
As Maskell retraces his tortuous path from his recruitment at Cambridge to the airless upper regions of the establishment, we discover a figure of manifold doubleness: Irishman and Englishman; husband, father, and lover of men; betrayer and dupe. Beautifully written, filled with convincing fictional portraits of Maskell's co-conspirators, and vibrant with the mysteries of loyalty and identity, The Untouchable places John Banville in the select company of both Conrad and le Carre.
Winner of the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction
"Contemporary fiction gets no better than this... Banville's books teem with life and humor." - Patrick McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
"Victor Maskell is one of the great characters in recent fiction... The Untouchable is the best work of art in any medium on [its] subject." -Washington Post Book World
"As remarkable a literary voice as any to come out of Ireland; Joyce and Beckett notwithstanding." -San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With an introduction by Colm Toibín
25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION WITH EXTRA MATERIALShortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize, a dark and unsettling crime classic.Frederick Charles St John Vanderveld Montgomery. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Don't make me laugh.Freddie Montgomery has committed two crimes. He stole a Dutch old-master painting from a wealthy family friend and murdered the chambermaid who caught him in the act. Narcissistic, greedy and reckless, Freddie travels through life apparently without remorse. However, as he narrates his testimony, he realises that the only person to be held responsible for his life, and his crimes, is himself. He just can't quite admit it yet . . .Shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize, John Banville's The Book of Evidence is a wonderfully dark, insightful and unnerving crime novel that takes us deep into the unreliable mind of an improbable murderer.
Having fled Rome and a stultifying marriage, Isabel Osmond is in London, brooding on the recent disclosure of her husband's shocking, years-long betrayal of her. What should she do now, and which way should she turn, in the emotional labyrinth where she has been trapped for so long? Reawakened by grief and the knowledge of having been grievously wronged, she determines to resume her youthful quest for freedom and independence. Soon Isabel must return to Italy and confront her husband, and seek to break his powerful hold on her. But will she succeed in outwitting him, and securing her revenge?Mrs Osmond is a masterly novel of betrayal, corruption and moral ambiguity, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea.