Banville, John

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). His novel Mrs. Osmond (2017) is an imaginative sequel to Henry James's Portrait of a Lady. Time Pieces (2018), a “quasimemoir” of Dublin, explores the city's cultural glories and social history and Banville's life there as a young man. Banville also was an editor at two newspapers, the Irish Press (1969–83) and the Irish Times (1986–99). As the mystery writer Benjamin Black, he has written Christine Falls (2006), The Silver Swan (2009), A Death in Summer (2011), Vengeance (2012), The Black-Eyed Blonde (2014; the main character is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe). Snow (2020) was Banville's first mystery published under his own name.

See studies by R. Imhof (1989), J. McMinn (1991, 1999), D. Hand (2002), B. McNamee (2006), and S. Fiorato (2007).

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