Banville, John, 1945–, Irish novelist. His novels, which stress language over plot and narrative, are written in a dense, elaborate, and highly original blend of poetry and prose. They are allusive, frequently filled with digressions, and often exhibit a corrosive wit. His best-known novel is The Sea (2005, Man Booker Prize) in which an elderly art historian returns to a seaside town where he mourns his dead wife and examines his past life. The early novels Nightspawn (1971) and Birchwood (1973) follow the decline of Irish families. Other novels include a trilogy based on the lives of scientists, Doctor Copernicus (1976), Kepler (1983), and The Newton Letter (1982); a second trilogy, The Book of Evidence (1989), Ghosts (1993), and Athena (1995); The Untouchables (1997); Eclipse (2000); Shroud (2002); The Infinities (2009); and Ancient Light (2012). Banville also was an editor at two newspapers, the Irish Press (1969–83) and the Irish Times (1986–99), and as Benjamin Black has written Christine Falls (2006), The Silver Swan (2009), A Death in Summer (2011), Vengeance (2012), and other thrillers.
See studies by R. Imhof (1989), J. McMinn (1991, 1999), D. Hand (2002), B. McNamee (2006), and S. Fiorato (2007).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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