John Banville's novels have a reputation for their linguistic flair and carefully observed description. His latest novel, Eclipse
, is no exception in this regard. It tells the story of Alexander Cleave, a dramatic actor with "the famous eyes whose flash of fire could penetrate to the very back row of the stalls". Cleave has however recently experienced an actor's ultimate fear--"he died, corpsed in the middle of the last act and staggered off the stage in sweaty ignominy just when the action was coming to its climax".
The impact upon Cleave of the collapse of his acting career is devastating and leads him to reassess his entire life. Looking back on his childhood, he realises that "acting was inevitable. From earliest days life for me was a perpetual state of being watched". Cleave flees to the house in the country where he grew up and, as he sinks into a depressed torpor, he realises that the house is inhabited by both ghosts from the past, as well as more furtive and tangible presences from the moment. Visited by his anguished wife Lydia, and obsessing on his fractured relationship with his academically gifted but disturbed daughter Cass, Cleave reflects with great emotional intensity on "the terror of the self, of letting the self go so far free that one night it might break away".
Eclipse is a beautifully written but dark and introspective novel. It often almost completely dispenses with plot, as Banville (author of Booker short-listed The Book of Evidence to The Untouchable) probes deeper into Cleave's disturbed reflection on his life, his family, his past and his present, all of which culminates in a desolate and unexpected ending. Eclipse is an elegiac, mournful novel, linguistically brilliant but somewhat unrelenting. --Jerry Brotton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His first book, Long Lankin
, was published in 1970. His other books are Nightspawn
, Doctor Copernicus
(which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1976), Kepler
(which was awarded the Guardian
Fiction Prize in 1981), The Newton Letter
(which was filmed for Channel 4), Mefisto
, The Book of Evidence
(shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize and winner of the 1989 Guinness Peat Aviation Award), Ghosts
, The Untouchable
and The Sea
. He has received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation. He lives in Dublin.