John Banville’s singularities: complex author plays great game with readers

“Who said here? I know, little god, that great men have fled. ” This sentence appears on the first page of John Banville’s new novel, Singularities. It’s a complex echo. “Who’s Talking?” is the opening line of Shroud (2002). And Shroud himself. repeats a line from the first page of Ghosts (1993): “Who says? I do. Little God.”

Holy little hich? The author, of course: John Banville, or perhaps only John Banville is the writer of the novel. Banville has always emphasized that writing itself, that elusive shadow, exists only in the act of writing. Like everything he has published since his first novel, Nightspawn (1971), Strange things is a book written openly, a book, therefore, of writing, and therefore of writing itself. Writing: the act of creating the already created world, making the writer a god, of sorts.

Banville’s selves were here, playing their familiar game of hide and seek. Can you trust them? Are they real? Have they ever?

Strange things. The title is a joke. Nothing here is singular; everything is an echo. The little genie assembles his longtime cast, placing them against the familiar old scene. A man tormented by guilt, a Big House in the Irish countryside, changed his name, changed himself, the secrets became shamefully trivial (or turned out not to be at all). is secret).

Freddie Montgomery, “the cannibal, slim and dangerous,” murderous narrator of Book of evidence (1989), finally out of prison, to find himself in a strangely altered world. He returns to his childhood home, Coolgrange, and discovers that it is now, and has somehow always been, Arden, the home of the Godleys. Who are the Godleys? The little gods, of course. Arden: not quite Eden. Also, Shakespeare’s Transfiguration Forest. I told you everything is just an echo.

It was Adam Godley, Sr, now deceased, who seemed responsible for this changed world. A brilliant mathematician, Godley formulated the “Brahma theory”, which overturned both classical and quantum physics and plunged us into a world shrunk by our understandings. certain knowledge that we exist only in one of an infinite number of possible universes. This we already know many words The Infinities (2009), that Strange things is a kind of sequel.

But of course Strange things also a sequel to Book of evidence. Or maybe it’s some kind of alternative, rewritten, entertaining sequel: Freddie Montgomery got out of jail for free before, in the end, in Ghost and in Athena (1995). More echo: The Infinities was narrated by the ancient Greek messenger god, Hermes, who also narrated Strange things… In The Infinities, it’s people, people, people are endless. In Strange things, we are singularities. Both infinite and singular: the human condition. Also, ideally, the condition of the artwork is fully achieved – or is it a stretch?

The Brahma theory is Banville’s own escape card, his license to associate with his past novels and with old storytellers, himself writing past and present. Brahma “puts even his own identity in doubt”; it’s cluttered with various fictional realities (fictional reality! There’s a paradox for you), allowing for unexpected theatrical tricks, plot twists, blind alleys, stories laughs, allusions. I can also say at this point that Strange things will in all likelihood prove nearly incomprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with Banville’s earlier novels; I suspect this is also part of the joke.

One example: also present at Arden/Coolgrange was Dr. William Jaybey, a middle-aged scholar and expert on Newton who had been commissioned by Adam Godley Jr to write the official biography of his father who rewrote his world. , Adam Sr. Jaybey (JB of course – and Banville’s given name is William John Banville) proceeds to recreate the plot of Newton’s letter (1982), in which a middle-aged scholar, writing a book about Newton in a decaying country house, misinterpreted the electric currents that propagate between members of the host family. his house.

To embark on his Godley biography, Dr Jaybey leaves the Axel Vander chair of Deconstruction Studies at Arcadia State University in California – Axel Vander is the narrator Shroud; and Arcadia State has also hosted, young Freddie Montgomery.

Video of the day

The density of the reference, here, is itself deconstructed. It tells us the same thing that Banville has been telling us for a long time: that self and the world, are fictions, of a kind – supreme fictions, perhaps (as Wallace Stevens might say), but nonetheless fictitious – and therefore capable of dissociating, rearranging, and reconstructing in a kind of game, a game with the dual purposes of creating aesthetic pleasure and accurately conveying the content. content of consciousness from one self to another. Art: the supreme game. Since then, Strange things invite us to play. It requires us to take it apart – to find its many gangsters and infuriating references, to uncover the self-quotes, the improvisations and biographies in jokes.

“Another crowd pleaser, eh, John?” Banville’s agent apparently said, when presented with the manuscript of The Infinities. Fantastically scripted and choreographed, Strange things in its inexcusable complexity and brilliance it seems impossible to please the crowd. On the other hand, aren’t two people a crowd, under certain circumstances? Writer, reader: who else do you need to play the supreme game?


The Singularities of John Banville

Fiction: The Strangerness of John Banville

Random House, 320 pages, hardcover € 21; eBook £9.49 John Banville’s singularities: complex author plays great game with readers

Fry Electronics Team

Fry is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button