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3.9 out of 5 stars9
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2012
I purchased the Kindle version of this book yesterday evening, finished it, bleary-eyed, at 6am this morning and - having slept for a little over five hours - am already rereading it!

Prepare to be transported by Banville's sumptuous prose in this fantastic philosophical rollercoaster. He has that utterly enviable way of making everything and everyone spring to life; images form effortlessly in your mind's eye, characters and places embed themselves as if they were your own memories - the mark of a true literary genius!

Simply superb, and absolutely deserving of a place on every reader's bookshelf.

5 Super-Shiny Gold Stars!
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on 19 May 2001
Banville is certainly one of the two or three most exciting writers of the last 30 years, and this is a mesmerising display of his talents.
On one level this is a book bristling with symbols, wherein a young man attempts to reconcile the opposing forces of chaos and order in which he finds himself. Working within and alongside this is the puzzle of the book itself. Themes are repeated, mutated and re-presented...the truth (of events and motives, of the world itself)always lying just out of reach for the narrator.
As ever Banville is passionately in love with language. His glittering, post-modern premise is rendered with such a rich landscape of imagery and description that literally every paragraph of the book soars and the reader is left reeling in wonder.
But Banville is also spare and wonderfully witty: "In the midst of wind-shivered foliage a deer would silently materialize - a glossy eye and a glistening tear-track, a stump of a tail, a unicorns dainty hoof" The poetic prose feels pared down, as if he's considered the cleanest, sharpest approach to each detail. An method he shares with that other master of language, Don DeLillo.
So, in short, if you love language, if you love literature then surrender to Mefisto!
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on 15 September 1999
Gabriel Swan is Ramanujan, Manfred, Cain and Christ in one. The sheer MEANING that this text expresses is beautiful beyond anything I have ever read in a work of fiction - a meaning that incorporates but overcomes language and lies within a kind of eidetic sublime. John Banville explores the significance of the dark truth that lies behind the world; unseeable, unknowable, but essential, if there is to be any validition for an individual who can recognise his worth only internally and personally. Banville grasps what Byron, Nietzsche, et al were about in their consideration of predestination (in 'Mefisto', consciousness appears to lie within a mathematical order that is always just out of grasp) not as a threat to humanity but as the means of escape from the impossible burden that freedom presents for one with any grasp of the eternal. Like Faust, any attempt to understand this truth results in destruction.
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on 7 May 2016
I have read a couple of books by Banville which I really enjoyed. However this one was like dragging a massive grinding stone behind you as you walked. Its a book where the author has a paper thin storyline and filled out with creative use of language. The characterisations are about as subtle (and interesting) as a fart at a funeral. I'm sure if you are a middle aged English teacher you will love it. I gained nothing from reading it except from gaining an eyefull of the author's hubris.
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on 2 September 2013
This is the fifth of his novels I've read and I shall keep going. The beauty of the prose and language keeps the story flowing once again.
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on 18 May 2014
Liking the poetry of Banville's writing I chose this as a holiday read but I found it too enigmatic for enjoyment.
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on 13 February 2016
Banville has a melancholy elegance that is both profoundly irish and yet unique. This book takes you places in your imagination no other writer captures.
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on 8 September 2000
Mefisto is an elegantly moving Irish saga. It thrums with the social and physical geography of the country and revels in the protagonist's power of observation. Read it.
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on 5 October 2013
Works fine. I enjoy John Banville's writing perhaps I should wait until I've finished it before commenting. I like the Kindle
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