Ghosts

GhostsIn 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

Benjamin Black His first novel under this pen name was Christine Falls, which was followed by The Silver Swan in 2007 Banville has two adult sons with his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham They met during his visit to San Francisco in 1968 where she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley Dunham described him during the writing process as being like a murderer who s just come back from a particularly bloody killing Banville has two daughters from his relationship with Patricia Quinn, former head of the Arts Council of Ireland.Banville has a strong interest in vivisection and animal rights, and is often featured in Irish media speaking out against vivisection in Irish university research.

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  • Paperback
  • 256 pages
  • Ghosts
  • John Banville
  • English
  • 25 January 2019
  • 9780679755128

10 thoughts on “Ghosts

  1. says:

    Cosmic IntersectionsThe world isn t what goes around inside our heads, but what our heads go around inside Context is contents And I don t mean air, sights, and smells as context I mean other heads It is these other heads that supply us with language, opinion, and prejudice, lots of prejudice, which are the elements of the world we inhabit These other heads are even embedded in the things that surround us like in a simple cup of tea Lives, other lives a myriad of them, distilled into this thimbleful of perfumed pleasure Trying to clarify what goes on inside our heads by isolating ourselves on a small, sparsely populated Irish island for example is, therefore, not an inherently irrational therapeutic idea in principle We then only have to cope mostly with memories supplied of course by others , and dreams of other heads in other places But what happens when new heads, or even an old one, start invading And what happens to the invaders heads Here is the moment where worlds collide Worlds within worlds They bleed into each other Hanging around crazy people will make you crazy.But here s the thing it s not possible to sort our own head without another one to help, who nonetheless is unwelcome because annoying, and possibly crazy We need another head to be inserted into our own to remember our crimes or generally to interrupt our thinking lest we enter an endless loop of memories, dreams, and regrets When these helpful others are absent or when they die, it s not enough to live on mere memories These heads become ghosts part of ourselves, yet also independent I am certain there is no other form of afterlife for them than this, that they should live in us, and through us It is our duty Ghosts have a clear function The law calls this function restitution psychiatric medicine calls it integration art crticism, verification They amount to the sane thing sorting the contents of one s head, that is to say the context of one s head Never an easy job rarely a faultless one But when they do their job, ghosts have a dramatic effect They make it clear that something had happened, that something had shifted, that things would never be again as they had been before This is about as close to solving the various mysteries Banville presents as one is likely to achieve.And, as usual, Banville also presents the reader with his unique taste in vocabulary Borborygmic, oneiric, brumous, mephitic, eructations, benison, plumbeous, tombal, balneation are new to me But these are mysteries which are easier to resolve.

  2. says:

    Everything in this world resembles something else so Ghosts vaguely echoes The Tempest by William Shakespeare And the island is something between Aeaea Circe s home isle, and the Land of Nod the place of Cain s exile.Extraordinary the look of things at dusk then, it might have been another planet, with that pale vault of sky, those crouched and hesitant, dreamy distances I wandered about the house, going softly through the stillness and shadows, and sometimes I would lose myself, I mean I would flow out of myself somehow and be as a phantom, a patch of moving dark against the lighter darkness all around me.Those shipwrecked are personages descended from Harlequin and Columbine the painting by Jean Antoine Watteau the disagreeable characters with their disagreeable past, except the children, of course, the children are bound for their disagreeable future Professor Silas Kreutznaer is a kind of Prospero and Freddie Montgomery is a sort of Caliban.This lovely world, and we the only blot on the landscape We, or just me Sometimes I think I can feel the world recoiling from me, as if from the touch of some uncanny, cold and sticky thing.The ghosts of his past are still tormenting Freddie and he still keeps wondering how he could fall so low and turn into such a beast What statue of myself did I erect long ago, I wonder Must have been a gargoyle Diderot developed a theory of ethics based on the idea of the statue if we would be good, he said, we must become sculptors of the self Virtue is not natural to us we achieve it, if at all, through a kind of artistic striving, cutting and shaping the material of which we are made, the intransigent stone of selfhood, and erecting an idealised effigy of ourselves in our own minds and in the minds of those around us and living as best we can according to its sublime example.When we all learn to sculpt our own virtues then, at last, we ll become true human beings

  3. says:

    Some people are ghosts, even when they are alive This is what makes this a horror story people When it is the usual stream of consciousness fare that it is Who writes beautiful prose than Banville Absolutely no one.This isn t actually a ghost story, of course But if you love rare words and unique writing, and Ireland as I do, then this is the book for you, as it was for me.

  4. says:

    here is the thing about banville about the perfection of his prose you can be 38 pages into this book and read I too was eager already for change, for disorder, for the mess and confusion that people make of thingsCompany, that was what we wanted, the brute warmth of the presence of others to tell us we were alive after all, despite appearances and you will close the book and run your hand over the cover and stare off into the distance at a tree the way the light hits it in a square, illuminating it there you will be reminded of your mother, one thousand miles away, on a couch drifting in and out of sleep after chemotherapy you will be remembering her at niagara falls and how she lifted you up on the railing to get a better view when you were four and one thousand miles away, you will see that great cataract, but importantly, you will see the rail and feel her hands on you, holding you secure it s the railing the railing that was put there one hundred years ago by some lost hand and the connotations of that railing not the falls but your mother holding you and though you never saw her face, looking intently instead at the rush of water, know that she was smiling at your blonde hair and feeling your chest rise and fall with the wonder of it all.

  5. says:

    Ratings 1 to 5 Writing 4Plot 2Characters 2Emotional impact 2Overall rating 2.5NotesFavorite character s Favorite quotes the wind of something that was almost happiness wafted through them all p.7 He had a disjointed, improvised air, as if he had been put together in haste from disparate bits and pieces of other people p.12 fear always holds at its throbbing centre that little, thin, unquenchable flame of pleasure p.114Other notes I was really impressed by this book initially I loved the author s way of describing the characters and setting and was intrigued by the premise As the book progressed, though, the plot began to feel very disjointed to me and I could never quite get a hold of it somehow.

  6. says:

    Confusingly, This guy gets a lot of grief on here for being pretentious But, to me it is an authentic pretentiousness, like art is Very unlike David Foster Wallace who tries to sound cooler than you or Michael Chabon who tries to sound smarter and who prolly are

  7. says:

    Worlds within worlds They bleed into each other I am at once here and there, then and now, as if by magic I think of the stillness that lives in the depths of mirrors It is not our world that is reflected there It is another place entirely, another universe, cunningly made to mimic ours Anything is possible there, even the dead may come back to life Flaws develop in the glass, patches of silvering fall away and reveal the inhabitants of that parallel, inverted world going about their lives all unawares And sometimes the glass turns to air and they step through it without a sound and walk into my world.This is Banville at his rather strange I expected a somewhat conventional sequel to The Book of Evidence, and was caught unawares like an inhabitant of the mirror The narrative switches between an omniscient, god, fly on the wall point of view and first person, and it is only during the paragraph above which I called, aptly enough, the mirror moment that the two perspectives twine and vaguely connect That happens about a fifth of the way through, but the feeling of disjointedness persists to the end Deliberately, I would say, though perhaps not entirely necessarily If I was not convinced by the story, I was in awe of the prose Sentence for sentence, Banville is nothing short of brilliant and I have lavished the margins with copious commentry I continue to be a devoted fan.

  8. says:

    L isola il mio elemento naturale, un mondo a s , in cui tutto acquista un valore diverso, forse per via dell acqua che fa da confine e da limite allo stesso tempo Anche la luce e il cielo ne sono condizionati, e di conseguenza il modo in cui vediamo gli oggetti e percepiamo il tempo.L isola di Banville un luogo aspro, quasi dimenticato, a cui si approda volontariamente per sfuggire al passato, cambiare vita, cancellare ricordi, nascondersi Ma ci si approda anche per caso, come accade ai naufraghi della storia.A questo punto iniziano le tante suggestioni I tre abitanti della casa il professore, Licht e la voce narrante, assassino senza nome che va sull isola una volta scontata la pena quasi per lavare i propri peccati o per espiare si ergastolani a vita.L esistenza che vivono scandita dalla luce La luce del quadro che studiano, una luce dorata in cui le figure umane sembrano bloccate, colte in un attimo al di fuori del tempo.La luce fisica che filtra dalle finestre o attraverso i vetri Si tratta comunque sempre di una luce esterna, dentro di loro coltivano un buio fatto di passato apparentemente svanito e di speranza molto fioca, quasi inesistente.I naufraghi sono reali Sono un improvvisa irruzione del mondo esterno Sono i personaggi del quadro Qualunque cosa siano, risvegliano ricordi e sconvolgono le esistenze dei tre che fino al loro arrivo si sono concentrati sulla sopravvivenza, relegando il proprio essere umani nell ombra della notte, fuori dalla casa, negli angoli pi disparati dell isola, stanchi fantasmi privi di ombra un libro denso, intenso e ostico, con una scrittura incisiva e difficile, sospesa in un tempo che respira e si ferma al ritmo della prosa stessa, si avvolge su se stesso con balzi cronologici che rallentano e diluiscono la storia E ci troviamo proiettati ora nel quadro, immobilizzati nella luce delle pennellate, sagome vaghe e confuse ora in frammenti di vita reale, messi a confronto con le nostre paure, i nostri desideri e i nostri demoni per ripiombare in una fusione con la natura dell isola, fuoco e roccia, acqua e ombre sagomate dalla luce.

  9. says:

    On some level I guess I get the complaint that Ghosts doesn t really have a plot and that it sets up a premise and then mostly ignores it, though I think that s missing the point For one, it seems pretty clear that most of the plot points will be picked up in the next book Athena , but importantly it s a book that isn t really terribly concerned with plot anyway Like Nabokov s Glory or The Gift there I go comparing Banville to N again , it s a slow meditation, and the enjoyment comes from the writing itself which is masterly and from becoming immersed in Freddie Montgomery s thoughts on life after jail Sure it moves slowly, but it allows you to savor the prose and the details, and I can t stress enough how good Banville is at those things What did surprise me was just how emotionally effecting Freddie s meditations are I didn t mind watching what appeared to be the main plot fade to the background as the first person narration came to the fore, as the latter interested me far .As with other Banville novels, his style isn t particularly original, but it doesn t change the fact that he still executes it perfectly, and this type of writing requires a novelist of the highest talent to pull off without sounding self indulgent or masturbatory Regardless of what some might argue, I don t think Banville is ever either of those things.

  10. says:

    Un amico mi ha fatto notare un mio limite nello scrivere i commenti ai libri che leggo, consistente nel fatto che quando scrivo un commento positivo mi dilungo e sono prolissa, al contrario quando scrivo che un libro non mi piaciuto sono concisa, troppo breve.Ha ragione.Quando un libro mi piaciuto mi perdo nel commento quasi con volutt , come per prolungare il piacere che ho provato nella lettura quando non mi piaciuto sono sbrigativa, quasi per spicciarmi a toglierlo dalla mente, non mi piace perch .Ci premesso, scrivo ora il breve commento a questo libro appena terminato E chiaro quindi che non l ho amato.Non mi piaciuto perch non ha una trama Si tratta di un romanzo senza accadimenti, dalla prima all ultima pagina non accade assolutamente nulla C solo un perenne flusso di pensieri della voce narrante, di cui non si conosce il nome, si sa solo che un ex galeotto che vive, insieme al professor Kreutznaer, esperto di storia dell arte, e a un altro enigmatico personaggio, tale Licht, in un isola disabitata, dove un giorno sbarca un gruppo di naufraghi Cos inizia la storia e il libro termina il giorno dopo, quando i naufraghi se ne ripartono dall isola meno una, Flora, una ragazza che rimane perch dice di essere ammalata La presenza di questi naufraghi provoca negli abitanti dell isola appunto un flusso di ricordi, di riflessioni e di pensieri, ben scritti, anzi benissimo, ma tutto finisce l.Siamo in un mondo immobile e immerso in un atmosfera ovattata e impalpabile, che non si capisce se sogno o realt.Nei prossimi giorni lascer il libro in una panchina, magari trover un lettore che lo sapr apprezzare, a differenza di me.

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