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Ghosts [Paperback]

John Banville
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 29 1997
In 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.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The narrator of this lyrical novel by the author of The Book of Evidence banishes himself to a deserted island inhabited by two other castaways.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

A bedraggled medley of castaways from a day outing wash ashore a remote island. Led by Felix, the unctuous, mutable "lord of the streets," they include many of the same Faustian types--the innocent girl, the moribund gentleman--who inhabit Banville's previous fiction, The Book of Evidence ( LJ 3/1/90) and Mephisto (Godine, 1989). They have, perhaps, walked "straight out of the deepest longings" of the forsaken trio already sentenced to live on that island: an art expert with dubious credentials, Professor Kreutnaer; his disgruntled, lovelorn assistant Licht; and the familiar ex-convict who is also our first-person narrator. Banville is not so much interested in the plight of the castaways, whom he arranges in a tableau vivant and then abandons, as he is in the criminal descent and groping atonement of his hapless narrator. Here Banville's quirky, Beckettian stream-of-consciousness takes off: pathetic, noble, hilarious, this narrator is an utterly original "little god." The novel, though in some ways incomplete, is an exuberant, virtuosic display.
- Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eking Out a Fretful Existence July 5 2010
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Having now read a number of John Banville's works, I see him as a writer who challenges his readers to think through a complicated process in order to understand the larger meaning of life. Exploring a typical Banville novel is never easy, especially when it involves unlocking the inherent value and purpose of its main ideas. His earlier work, titled "Ghosts", is a good example of how initially challenging his writings can be. Here there is no recognizable story that follows a neatly defined pattern with a start and endpoint. All the cast of characters have their own unique experiences that evolve in a stream-of-consciousness that often runs at cross-purposes with each other. As shipwrecks, they have all arrived together at the same place in time haunted by the memories or ghosts of unfulfilled and unhappy pasts to contend with as they sort out their various reason for being there. Their coming together on a desert island has as much to say about the accidental mysteries of life as it does about the place itself: devoid of purpose and sense of security. Complicating matters is the troubled presence of an disembodied narrator's voice that attempts to override the other assorted tales of discontent with its own abject view of life. This motley crew of unhappy visitors is met by a seemingly redoutable professor of art and his disaffected assistant, the two main occupants of the island, who regard it as a refuge against the threats of romantic and modern interpretation. Meaning for them is simply cleaving to what they believe is the artist's intended purpose at the moment of creation. In the course of the story, their confidence and self-assurance will gradually erode as this unwelcomed group of outsiders intrude on their privacy. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A modern masterpiece... Dec 16 2004
Format:Hardcover
As difficult a novel to describe adequately as it is to understand in one reading, this is a book I read immediately after I finished it to help 'tie-up' some loose ends; to answer a few unanswered questions. The second time around helped, but it is ultimately a story that resists any kind of definitive summation or conclusion. The content reminded me of Penelope Lively's novel "Spiderweb" but with a somewhat more sinister undertone. I especially admired Banville's modernist (more or less) prose, juxtaposed with the presentation of distinctly post-modern ideas. Once again, Banville shows himself to be one of our most valuable contemporary writers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a plot? no, but... June 12 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Until I read John Banville (Kepler, Book of Evidence, and now Ghosts) I would have been skeptical that any writer could pull off a book with essentially no plot and still keep me hooked.
The man quite simply suprasses Edgar Allan Poe at his best. There isn't a character anywhere in Banville's fiction who isn't sick, but can tell us about their inner darkness with such admirable prose...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Literature March 6 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Ghosts" is one of the truly great novels -- brilliantly conceived and executed; deeply insightful; sculpted by a poet's hand. Oh, to be sure, John Banville's language can be absurd and pretentious, and I found the occasional mundane vulgarity startling, jarring, and gratuitous... but hardly ruinous. I heartily recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It still haunts me Dec 4 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Less a plot novel than The Book of Evidence (of which it is the sort-of sequel), Ghosts nevertheless has an artistry that neither BOE nor any other book I've read in recent years can touch. The imagery isn't merely beautiful; it is staggering, and the mood that Banville conjures will hold any reader with an imagination.
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