Banville, John 1945–

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Banville, John 1945–

PERSONAL: Born December 8, 1945, in Wexford, Ireland; son of Martin and Agnes (Doran) Banville; married Janet Dunham (a textile artist), 1969 (marriage ended); married Patricia Quinn; children: (first marriage) Colm, Douglas; (second marriage) two daughters. Education: Attended St. Peter's College.

ADDRESSES: Home—Dublin, Ireland. Agent—Sheil Land Associates, Ltd., 43 Doughty St., London WC1N 2LF, England.

CAREER: Irish Press, Dublin, Ireland, copy editor, 1969–83; Irish Times, Dublin, subeditor, 1986–88, literary editor, 1988–99. Aer Lingus, Dublin, Ireland, clerk.

AWARDS, HONORS: Irish Arts Council Macaulay Fellowship, 1973; Allied Irish Banks Prize from the Irish Academy of Letters, 1973, and American-Irish Foundation Literary Award, 1976, both for Birchwood; James Tait Black Memorial Prize, University of Edinburgh, 1976, for Doctor Copernicus; Guardian Fiction Prize and Allied Irish Bank Fiction Prize, both 1981, both for Kepler; American-Irish Foundation Award, 1981, for Birchwood; Guinness Peat Aviation Award and Booker Prize shortlist, both 1989, both for The Book of Evidence; Lannan Literary Award for fiction, Lannan Foundation, 1997; Booker Prize, Book Trust, 2002, for Shroud; Booker Prize for Fiction, Booker Prize Foundation, 2005, for The Sea.



Nightspawn, Norton (New York, NY), 1971.

Birchwood, Norton (New York, NY), 1973.

Doctor Copernicus, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1976, Norton (New York, NY), 1977.

Kepler, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1981, David Godine (Boston, MA), 1983.

Mefisto, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1986, Godine (Boston, MA), 1989.

The Untouchable, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.

Eclipse, Picador, 2000, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.

The Revolutions Trilogy (omnibus; contains Doctor Copernicus, Kepler, and The Newton Letter: An Interlude), Picador (London, England), 2000.

Shroud, Picador (London, England), 2002, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

The Sea, Picador (London, England), 2005, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.


The Book of Evidence, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1989, Scribner' (New York, NY), 1990.

Ghosts, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.

Athena, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

Frames Trilogy (omnibus; contains The Book of Evidence, Ghosts, and Athena), Picador (London, England), 2001.


Long Lankin (short fiction), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1970, revised edition, Gallery Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1984.

The Newton Letter: An Interlude (novella), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1982, David Godine (Boston, MA), 1987.

(Adapter) The Broken Jug: After Heinrich von Kleist (screenplay; based on Heinrich von Kleist's Der zerbrochene Krug), Gallery Books (Loughcrew, Ireland), 1994.

The Ark (for children), illustrated by Conor Fallon, Gallery Press (Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland), 1994.

God's Gift: A Version of Amphitryon by Heinrich von Kleist (drama), Gallery Press (Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland), 2000.

Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City (travel), Bloomsbury (London, England), 2003, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Upon the publication of his first work, a collection of short fiction titled Long Lankin, Irish writer John Banville was labeled "a ray of hope for the future of fiction" by Stanley Reynolds in the New Statesman. The author is noted not only for his evocative and masterful prose but for his experimental style, which challenges the traditional format of the novel. His works contain meticulous historical documentation, extensive metaphors, and complex literary allusions, and they have been compared to the writings of such Irish authors as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Nearly two decades after being deemed by Reynolds as "obviously a man to watch," Banville continues to elicit significant critical approval. Mefisto, for example, prompted Irish Literary Supplement reviewer William Kelly to write: "If a book, as [Franz] Kafka put it, should serve as an ice axe for the frozen sea within us, then this one is hard enough for the job."

Issues commonly addressed in Banville's fiction are loss, destructive love, and the pain inherent in attaining freedom. Long Lankin is divided into two sections and consists of nine separate episodes. The book, according to Reynolds, is "a faintly allegorical tale full of extremely intelligent and articulate characters." A reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement was particularly impressed by the episodes "Nightwind," a story about a party going awry, and "Persona," about a man wandering through his empty house. The critic explained that Banville, injecting the work with a somber tone, "strings the stories together on a single line of tension" where "the feeling of emotional tautness is seldom lost." While noting that "the overriding seriousness of [Long Lankin] does lead, at times, to an uncharacteristic self-indulgence," the reviewer concluded that Banville's book is "an impressive first appearance."

In his novel Nightspawn, Banville conveys what Elsa Pendleton described in the Progressive as "a surrealistic tale of love, murder, and political intrigue of various obscure kinds." Set in Greece, the novel depicts a young author, Ben White, who becomes involved in schemes to overthrow the government. The story is entrenched in literary allusion, Pendleton noted, as it introduces "a large supporting cast partly composed of doppelgangers and imaginary shapes dimly seen hiding under things." White encounters a German journalist and his companion, as well as an Englishman, his young wife, and her handsome brother. In addition to recounting a military coup and an assassination, the story involves a highly sought-after document, violence, and incest.

Nightspawn is reportedly a parody of several genres in which Banville attempts to expose the limitations of the traditional novel through a deliberately confusing narrative. New York Times critic Thomas Lask claimed that after a "promising beginning … the story goes every which way and never makes up its mind what it is." Auberon Waugh, writing in the Spectator, found Nightspawn to be an "utterly pointless book" comprised of "unconnected and inexplicable episodes." Pendleton, however, asserted that "chaotic and ambiguous though the story may be, the final impression is that Banville has achieved the result he wanted—an extended metaphor of trouble and despair as experienced by a sensitive man confronting a malignant universe." Furthermore, she praised Banville's dry humor and rich use of words: "This is the rare book containing passages which can be enjoyed for the language, quite apart from the story."

Striking a grave tone and evoking elements of Gothic evil is Banville's third novel, Birchwood. It tells the story of Gabriel Godkin, a young boy growing up on a decaying Irish estate during the nineteenth century in a family rife with alcoholism, insanity, and ruthless behavior. After a series of disasters, Gabriel leaves home to search for his sister, though he is not sure she actually exists. He joins a circus and travels about Ireland, witnessing famine and revolution in addition to a variety of freak accidents. By story's end, Gabriel has encountered family incest, inheritances, twins, and illegitimate relatives. Despite the chaotic and confining nature of his background, he finally manages to gain his independence.

In his review of Birchwood for Spectator, Waugh judged the novel too highbrow and given to literary trends. Although he thought Banville "a writer of startling originality, with a most vivid and unusual imagination and rare ability for sustaining interest," Waugh asked: "Why does he make the first twenty-one pages … a compendium of deliberate mystification and every silly literary trick which inane fashion or pretentious whimsy has contrived?" Many critics, however, praised Banville's book as an artful undertaking that combines Victorian sensationalism with the author's own somber tone and poetic style. Books and Bookmen contributor J.A. Cuddon described the novel as "witty and exuberant … Its originality springs for the most part from Mr. Banville's lyrical gifts as a dexterous stringer together of words." Cuddon concluded by deeming the work "a moral tale … which is continuously alive with Mr Banville's sardonic humour, invention and verbal ingenuity."

After the success of his first three books, Banville wrote two historical novels, Doctor Copernicus and Kepler, both based on the lives and work of noted scientists. The first, for which Banville received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, is a fictional account of the life of the fifteenth-century Polish astronomer. Regarded as the founder of modern astronomy, Copernicus established the heliocentric theory of the solar system, which states that the earth rotates daily on its axis and planets revolve in orbits around the sun. Banville's book relates the squalor and superstition, as well as the prevailing religious authorities, against which Copernicus had to fight in order to establish his revolutionary theory of an ordered universe.

Judging the novel "outstanding," a reviewer in the Economist wrote: "On Copernicus's own struggles to fend off the vileness of his world … Banville is superb." The critic suggested that Doctor Copernicus is "among the very best" of historical novels that "illuminate both the time that forms their subject-matter and the time in which they are read." Although Julian Barnes, writing in the New Statesman, found fault with some of Banville's prose and with the novel's pervasive seriousness, he commented positively on the work for its "earnestness, ambition, and stern historicity…. Banville presents this background with … informed vigor, especially the sense of cosmic claustrophobia which agonised Copernicus into the idea of the heliocentric universe."

Influenced by Copernican principles was sixteenth-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler, on whom Banville based his second historical novel. Kepler conveys the astronomer's attempt to combine a plausible theory of planetary motion with precise mathematical observations and his discovery that the planets moved in elliptical orbits rather than in circles. Similar in theme to Doctor Copernicus, Kepler focuses on the toil of a scientist struggling against the attitudes of a society that still believed astronomy was a combination of science and magic. Further plagued by illness, failing eyesight, and a shrewish wife, Kepler was nonetheless moved by the prospect of a perfectly ordered universe and pursued the development of his scientific theories.

"As a historical novelist," stated Paul Taylor in the Times Literary Supplement, "Banville is amazingly adept at evoking the flavour and the feel of the period he is writing about, while as an expositor of the scientific and philosophical ideas of his hero he is admirably fluent and lucid." Taylor continued: "Not the least of the pleasures to be derived from Kepler is the way Banville's tactile, sensuous prose coils itself confidently around everything." Russell McCormmach shared this sentiment in a New York Times Book Review assessment, observing that the work is "an informed and lively account of an important time and personality by an author of seriousness and talent." Newsweek reviewer Peter S. Prescott described Kepler as a "rarity: a historical novel concerned less with battles and pageantry than with the life of the mind, the intellectual atmosphere of an age long past."

Although not a historical novel, Banville's next book, The Newton Letter, takes its premise from the life of the seventeenth-century English philosopher and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. The present-day story centers on an unnamed narrator, an academic who spends a summer on a country estate in Ireland, where he hopes to finish a book about Newton. The scholar is soon caught up in observing the neighboring Lawless family on whose property he is staying. He becomes physically involved with the family's niece, Ottilie, but is obsessed with her aunt, Charlotte. Although greatly distracted from his studies, the narrator manages to make a breakthrough when he discovers—via a letter written by Newton—that the scientist's 1693 nervous collapse may have been caused by his fear that the austere truths of science have given way to the copious truths of the commonplace. The narrator unwittingly parallels Newton's disillusionment when, by the end of the story, his glorified preconceptions of the Lawless family are dismantled.

New York Times Book Review contributor Molly Hite regarded The Newton Letter as a reworking of the theme in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1809 novel, Elective Affinities: "Banville regroups Goethe's characters under a scientific metaphor implying that relativity is a condition of all perception and knowledge." Hite enthusiastically labeled the work "powerful." Spectator critic Miranda Seymour thought that some of Banville's passages are "both acute and evocative" and that the text is "beautifully constructed and written," but she "couldn't help feeling that Mr. Banville was playing too many literary games for the good of his book." Martin Swales, however, asserted in the London Review of Books that "John Banville has written a compassionate and vibrantly intelligent novel." In her praise of what she called a "highly self-conscious and experimental narrative form," Hite concluded that The Newton Letter is the author's "most impressive work to date."

Banville's next book, Mefisto, is divided into two parts that chronicle the life of narrator Gabriel Swan, beginning from the time of his conception. In "Marionettes," the story's first section, Gabriel tells of his lonely childhood and of his obsessive search for order through the pursuit of mathematics. "Angels," the book's second part, further depicts Gabriel's quest for harmony, even though he is obstructed by the evil influences of Felix, a satanic figure whom Gabriel believes may be his deceased twin brother. Containing what Barbara Hardy called in Books and Bookmen "mythy doves, swans, devils, angels and puppets [animated] by shame, disgust, horror, fear, lust, [and] aspirant desire," Mefisto exhibits the strong influence of renowned Irish authors William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.

Reviewing Mefisto in the Irish Literary Supplement, Kelly wrote: "It is … a writer's rather than a reader's book. That is to say, we cannot expect to understand or even like it at first reading…. His books are written not to be enjoyed but to be endured. Idlers be warned." Entirely enthusiastic about Mefisto was Hardy, who called the book a "dazzlingly individual new novel." The reviewer thought the work is "bizarrely innovative" and, though recognizing the obvious influence of Joyce and Beckett, pointed out that "Banville's weird world is all his own." Patricia Craig acknowledged in the Times Literary Supplement the book's dense symbolic imagery and complex narrative form, adding: "None of this is irritating; the author's strength of purpose and ingenuity keep us engrossed." Relating sentiments common to Banville's admirers, Craig concluded that the author "shapes his material in unprecedented ways, and enshrines his extended metaphors, his unsettling evocations and moments of ordinariness in resonant and lucid prose."

The Book of Evidence is a murder mystery that was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize in fiction. It took the Guinness Peat Aviation Award, where Graham Greene was the judge, and was the first of Banville's books to achieve a measure of commercial success. Part of its appeal was due to similarities with an actual unsolved case of art thievery and murder in Britain. Furthermore, as Joe Carroll explained in Europe: "The murders even had political fall-out when the murderer was eventually tracked down to the apartment of the then attorney general. He was forced, as a result, to resign his post although he had no idea that the man whom he regarded as a friend was the prime suspect." The novel focuses on anti-hero Freddie Montgomery, who abandons his wife on a Mediterranean island and returns home to England. A former scientist from an affluent background, the unambitious and unhappy Montgomery is obsessed with a painting by seventeenth-century Dutch artist Jan Vermeer that belongs to a family friend. He engineers its theft, but his poorly planned crime is foiled by a maid at the house, and so he murders her. The act of murder sickens him, and he abandons the painting in a ditch shortly afterward. Montgomery recounts this "book of evidence" from his jail cell while awaiting trial, but once again Banville leads the reader to question the veracity of the tale. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly found the tale "both terrifying and moving," and compared its "extraordinary psychological penetration" to two famed works of fictional malevolence: Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Stranger by Albert Camus.

The novel Ghosts seems to pick up the thread of Montgomery's life after a ten-year period. Released from prison, he lives on a sparsely populated island where he works as the assistant to a renowned art historian. A shipwreck brings seven survivors to the island; one of them, the menacing Felix, seems to know the scholar already. Some of the male characters are obsessed with Flora, a beautiful but delicate shipwreck survivor. Wendy Lesser, writing in the New York Times Book Review, compared this novel to "a Peter Greenaway film: the visual elements are entrancing, the mystery plot is intricate and obscure, and the characters are all faintly (sometimes aggressively) threatening oddballs." As the unnamed narrator recounts events and observations, the reader wonders whether the shipwreck was truly an accident, or if the survivors are actually there at all. "Once again, we are treated to long, lyrical and sometimes terrifying disquisitions on the existential dilemmas of life," wrote Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. "Once again, we are given a glimpse inside a man's haunted, chilly soul."

Ghosts is filled with literary allusions, from Homer's Odyssey to the nineteenth-century French poetry of Charles Baudelaire. Kakutani felt that though the work is initially engaging, "all the illusions to other books, all the echo-chamber effects that are meant to build up an atmosphere of significance never add up to anything that's palpable or real." Conversely, Brian Evenson, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, found that this ethereal quality lent the novel much of its appeal. He noted that Banville's cast seems to be inhabiting "a sea of dreams. Their interactions remain mysterious and incomplete, but at the same time ethereal and lyrical." Evenson commended the author's skill and subtlety: "He allows the story to form according to the language itself, until story and language seem inextricably bound in an eerie harmony."

Other reviewers offered similar praise for Banville's style. As Lesser observed: "The achievement of Ghosts is to use words as brushstrokes, to create in language an artwork that has all the appeal of a complex painting." She added, "Our eye roves over it and back again, not in linear, chronological order but in a state of suspended time, picking up new details and drawing new conclusions with each concentrated gaze." In the New Republic Marc Robinson described Banville's "sentences [as] voluptuous sequences of color and texture, exquisitely balanced constructions of external description and internal meditation." The critic concluded that "Ghosts is here and not here; achingly beautiful, momentarily transporting and gone."

Athena is the third entry in Banville's "Freddie Montgomery" trilogy. Review of Contemporary Fiction contributor Irving Malin found it to be "surely one of the most fascinating texts written in the last few years." Its narrator is a man named Morrow, who may be the Freddie Montgomery of the earlier Book of Evidence. Morrow appears to be an art critic and expert on seventeenth-century paintings. He has taken a job cataloguing stolen works at a manor house somewhere in Dublin. It appears to be the same estate as the one in The Book of Evidence, where Montgomery's theft was committed. While there, he meets a woman, "A.," who becomes his lover and then disappears. A police inspector enters the plot, questioning Morrow about the unsolved art thefts. In World Literature Today, critic Thomas M. Smyth commended the author's "breathtaking use of language," and noted that "most of the action occurs outside the presence of the protagonist, from whose point of view the entire novel is told. The growing sense of events unfolding beyond the protagonist's control creates a dense atmosphere of intrigue and vague menace."

In the end, true to the Banville style, nothing is as it appears to be in Athena, and the paintings Morrow is cataloguing turn out to be forgeries. Moreover, the mysterious Athena reveals herself to be not at all the persona that the reader might surmise. "Although Banville offers a truly shocking revelation of Athena on the last page," wrote Malin, "he leaves open the possibility that the revelation, the 'evidence' of Athena, is psychotic." Michael Gorra, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that as a novel, Athena possesses two irresistible themes—murder and sex: "Banville's particular genius is to bleed this promising material dry, draining it of suspense; reading him, you never taste the stomach-turning urge to know what's going to happen…. Plot counts for nothing here, or seems not to, and mood becomes all—a mood sustained by a prose of idiosyncratic and appalling charm."

Banville drew upon another real-life event for his next novel, The Untouchable. Its protagonist is Victor Maskell, an aging Anglo-Irish art historian of some renown, whose career and reputation are shattered when his government reveals that Maskell was a double agent who spied for the Russians while ostensibly working for British intelligence operations decades before. Banville based the character on Sir Anthony Blunt, an art historian whose earlier traitorous acts were revealed by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Blunt was never prosecuted, but he was stripped of knighthood before he died in 1983. He was part of a quartet of prominent, well-born young men who had met at Cambridge University in the 1930s and found a common cause in their leftist politics. They ostensibly renounced these beliefs when they went to work for the British intelligence service, but later revelations showed that the men had all served as double agents for years.

In The Untouchable, the fictional Maskell recalls his life to a biographer. Maskell, according to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, emerges as "elusive, cunning, cynical and surprisingly sentimental by turns." Maskell is duplicitous in all aspects of his life: though gay, he is married, and he harbors a longstanding passion for his wife's younger brother, Nick, who is straight and therefore "untouchable." The work also describes the aging Maskell's sudden fall to pariah status—and the accident of his birth into a well-connected family that makes him immune to prosecution. Maskell is unrepentant, fuming against what he terms a "nation of trai-tors, who daily betray friends, wives, children, tax inspectors." He recounts his acclaimed career, which gave him the honor of "Keeper of the Queen's Pictures," and in between recollections of the reigning monarch, whom he calls "Mrs. W.," he remembers the double life he led as a gay man in Britain during a time when homosexual acts there were still illegal. In a New Leader review, Brooke Allen described Banville's protagonist as "a man not completely devoid of gentler feelings but blighted by a fatal chilliness," and called the work "a triumph of construction and fine writing. Banville's use of the English language is masterful, and from that perspective the novel is a pleasure to read." Other reviewers also commented positively on the Banville anti-hero. The Untouchable, noted Peter Bien in World Literature Today, "gives us a fully realized central character (plus a dozen engaging 'secondary' players). It does this brilliantly in the language sometimes of angels, sometimes of pimps."

Banville's next work, Eclipse, was described by Allen in the New Leader as "a novel about the limits of ego." It centers on the disintegration of the life of Alexander Cleave, a celebrated Shakespearean actor who admits that his lifelong self-absorption has fueled his success on the stage. But he finds himself suddenly feeling anxious, and one night forgets his lines completely. He is consequently forced to leave the tour in disgrace and return to his childhood home, an old place in a seaside town, in part to avoid his wife, Lydia. "Stranded in a past that has no use for him, he is plagued by delusion and suspended in a state of 'transcendent tipsiness,' an alienation that renders him both pitiful and monstrous," wrote Alex Clark in the Guardian. "Banville's flighted prose, in which atmosphere is evoked through a dripfeed of lyricism, is superbly suited to his subject matter; his willed patience and defiant wordiness resonate with an almost unbearable sense of claustrophobia and the lurid excess of breakdown."

At the house, Cleave experiences ghostly recollections of an unpleasant childhood, but forms a strange bond with the house's caretaker, Quirke, and his slatternly teenage daughter, Lily. Cleave's own relationship with his daughter, Cass, is troubled, and he maintains that she suffers from profound manic depression: "Everything that happens, she is convinced, carries a specific and personal reference to her. There is nothing, not a turn in the weather, or a chance word spoken in the street, that does not covertly pass on to her some profound message of warning or encouragement." In typical Banville style, Cass is revealed to be not the pathetic, disturbed woman that her father depicts, but a highly regarded historian. There is little action in Eclipse, but something does occur off stage that brings Cleave back. "Cleave is so self-involved that he only sees and describes the natural phenomena that reflect his own mental state," reported Allen in the New Leader. "The result is an echoic, claustrophobic prose in which the reader is given moments of intense observation, but in the most limited, pointed doses. We enter into Cleave's self-referential world and take our part in its narrow vision, its unfocused grief." Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Christopher Tayler found that Eclipse offers "a warmer and more personal feel than any of Banville's previous novels … Some readers—including this one—might prefer the more sinister earlier novels; but even a smaller-scale work like this makes it clear that among serious contemporary novelists, Banville has very few rivals."

Cass Cleave returns in Banville's next novel, Shroud, a prequel of sorts to Eclipse. She knows a secret about the difficult Axel Vander, a Belgian Holocaust survivor who stole a dead friend's identity to escape the Nazis during World War II. Axel is now an old man and an internationally respected professor of literary theory who resides in California. Cass, a historical researcher, finds the newly widowed Axel and convinces him to meet her in Italy under the threat of revealing who he really is and what he has done. Axel has not just stolen his friend's name; he has also assumed his family and educational experience. Throughout the text, Banville explores the power of memories for the pair, especially the many lies Axel has told throughout his life and the effect this has had on him. The author touches on Cass's mental illness, too. The pair become romantically and physically involved, allowing Axel some redemption for his past. In Kirkus Reviews, a critic noted: "Ironic metaphors … and telling allusions to the mordant philosophy of Nietzsche further deepen the texture of a rich portrayal of painstakingly earned self-understanding." Remarking on the book's importance among Banville's books, a Publishers Weekly reviewer acknowledged: "This bravura performance will stand as one of Banville's best works."

Banville's fourteenth novel, The Sea, unexpectedly won the Booker Prize. The plot focuses on an aged, judgmental, rather demanding art historian, Max Morden, who has recently become a widower. His wife, Anna, has died from cancer. After her death, he goes back to a small villa at an Irish seaside resort, where he spent a family vacation during his childhood. There, Max remembers incidents from that summer, other incidents from his past, and his current grief. His childhood memories are not particularly happy: he suffered at the hands of the more wealthy Grace family, who had a big car and rented a large home. Max was abused, particularly by the Grace twins, Chloe and Myles, as well as by their nanny, Rose. The young Max also experienced some of his first feelings of love there, first for the mother, Connie, then Chloe. Yet the encounter with the Grace family transformed his life. Neither the character of Max nor the story itself are straightforward. As Sebastian Smee explained in the Spectator: "He is a man out of joint. So is the narrative, which folds this way and that, from the shallow past of his wife's dying to the deep, misremembered past and back to the present." In the end, Smee wrote: "It is a brilliant, sensuous, discombobulating novel."

Banville's works continue to be the subject of intense critical scrutiny for their complex, densely wrought plots in which nothing is certain. "I've always been interested in the relationship between the reader and the text," Banville told Susannah Hunnewell in the New York Times Book Review. "The reader believes absolutely in the reality he's reading about, while at the same time knowing that it's fiction—in other words, very well-wrought, convoluted lies."



Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 46, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.

Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 14: British Novelists since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.


Book, March, 2001, Don McLeese, review of Eclipse, p. 80.

Booklist, May 15, 1995, Deanna Larson, review of Athena, p. 1630; April 15, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of The Untouchable, p. 1389; February 1, 2001, Frank Caso, review of Eclipse, p. 1039.

Books and Bookmen, September, 1973, J.A. Cuddon, review of Birchwood, p. 83; September, 1986, Barbara Hardy, review of Mefisto, p. 26.

Contemporary Literature, fall, 1997, Tony E. Jackson, "Science, Art, and the Shipwreck of Knowledge," p. 510.

Economist, December 18, 1976, review of Doctor Copernicus, p. 131.

Esquire, January, 2001, Sven Birkerts, "The Last Undiscovered Genius," p. 50.

Europe, April, 1995, Joe Carroll, "John Banville," p. 39.

Guardian (London, England), September 16, 2000, Alex Clark, "Giving Up the Ghosts," review of Eclipse.

Irish Literary Supplement, spring, 1987, William Kelly, review of Mefisto.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Shroud, p. 101.

Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Untouchable, p. 116; February 1, 2001, Heather McCormack, review of Eclipse, p. 124.

London Review of Books, July 15, 1982, Martin Swales, review of The Newton Letter, p. 22.

New Leader, December 27, 1993, Walter Goodman, review of Ghosts, p. 30; July 14, 1997, Brooke Allen, review of The Untouchable, p. 16; January, 2001, Brooke Allen, review of Eclipse, p. 29.

New Republic, February 21, 1994, Marc Robinson, review of Ghosts, p. 39.

New Statesman, January 30, 1970, Stanley Reynolds, review of Long Lankin, p. 157; November 26, 1976, Julian Barnes, review of Doctor Copernicus, p. 766; April 16, 1993, Shaun Whiteside, review of Ghosts, p. 41; February 17, 1995, Philip MacCann, review of Athena, p. 38; October 9, 2000, James Hopkins, "Cleaved Apart," p. 53.

Newsweek, May 2, 1983, Peter S. Prescott, review of Kepler, p. 78.

New York Times, September 25, 1971, Thomas Lask, review of Nightspawn, p. 29; December 7, 1993, Michiko Kakutani, "Allusions and Illusions, Mirrors within Mirrors," review of Ghosts, p. B2; May 9, 1995, Richard Bernstein, "Art and Murder in the Hall of Mirrors."

New York Times Book Review, May 29, 1983, Russell McCormmach, review of Kepler, p. 10; July 19, 1987, Molly Hite, review of The Newton Letter, p. 19; November 28, 1993, Wendy Lesser, "Violently Obsessed with Art," review of Ghosts, p. 1; November 28, 1993, Susannah Hunnewell, "Art and the Stillness of Things," interview with John Banville, p. 33; May 21, 1995, Michael Gorra, "Irish Baroque," review of Athena, p. 15.

People, July 21, 1997, J. D. Reed, review of The Untouchable, p. 32.

Progressive, February, 1972, Elsa Pendleton, review of Nightspawn, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, February 9, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Book of Evidence, p. 44; August 23, 1993, review of Ghosts, p. 57; April 3, 1995, review of Athena, p. 45; April 14, 1997, review of The Untouchable, p. 52; December 18, 2000, review of Eclipse, p. 54; January 27, 2003, review of Shroud, p. 235.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 1994, Brian Evenson, review of Ghosts, p. 206; spring, 1997, Irving Malin, review of Athena, p. 179; summer, 2001, Irving Malin, review of Eclipse, p. 170.

Sewanee Review, spring, 1998, John Rees Moore, "Life and Death, Ghosts and Spies," pp. 317-329.

Southern Review, winter, 1998, Randall Curb, review of The Untouchable, p. 76.

Spectator, February 27, 1971, Auberon Waugh, review of Nightspawn, p. 287; February 10, 1973, Auberon Waugh, review of Birchwood, p. 171; June 19, 1982, Miranda Seymour, review of The Newton Letter, p. 26; Sebastian Smee, "Sparks from Sifted Embers," review of The Sea, p. 49.

Times Literary Supplement, February 5, 1970, review of Long Lankin, p. 127; January 30, 1981, Paul Taylor, review of Kepler, p. 107; October 10, 1986, Patricia Craig, review of Mefisto, p. 1131; September 29, 2000, Christopher Tayler, "The Circus Comes to Town," review of Eclipse, p. 23.

Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 1998, Mark Saunders, review of The Untouchable, pp. 751-759.

World Literature Today, summer, 1994, Thomas M. Smyth, review of Ghosts, p. 567; fall, 1996, Thomas M. Smyth, review of Athena, p. 958; winter, 1998, Peter Bien, review of The Untouchable, p. 131.

World of Hibernia, autumn, 2000, Eileen Battersby, review of Eclipse, p. 16.


Beatrice, (November 19, 2005), Ron Hogan, interview with John Banville.

Contemporary Writers, (November 19, 2005), biography of John Banville.

Three Monkeys Online, (November 19, 2005), Shane Barry, interview with John Banville.