The Infinities Paperback – Unabridged, 5 Mar 2010
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`There is no end of irony and sophistication and brilliance, and no end of a sense that an infinity of different egos lie out there beyond our grasp . . . The Infinities, one of Banville's most ambitious books, is recognisably both a summa of his earlier interests and a departure . . . [It] presents myths aplenty and layers of literary allusion . . . The descriptions of [Rex, the elderly black Labrador] are full of doggy vividness.'
--London Review of Books
'Superb writing scattered through out the book.'
'The plot is fairly abstruse, but it's Banville's luminous prose that matters.' --Guardian
'Set, ambitiously and frivolously, within a parallel universe . . . Banville's descriptive talents and narrative confidence get things moving.' --Sunday Telegraph
'Written with fierce, mischievous intelligence.' --Metro
'In my humble opinion, this novel is a hoot. It is filthy, bawdy and rollicking . . .And as for the acerbic reviews and the accusations of pretentiousness and pomposity? Well, I did my professional best to identify an oppressively overwrought passage, but instead found the writing to be only gorgeous. There's hardly a boring sentence and it's as close to poetry as most prose writers get . . . Barking mad. I loved it.'
'All of Banville's hallmarks are here - writing of great exactitude, a fluid narrative, a sly and arch humour . . . those who like their literature intellectual and knowing will enjoy it'
--Sunday Business Post
'The turning of an omniscient, omnipotent narrator into a god has...been fulfilled so well.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But almost nothing in this book is as it seems. This is not our own universe - it is one where hydrogen fusion powers everything, where Goethe is a footnote in history, and where Wallace, not Darwin, is the discoverer of the theory of evolution. The gods continually intervene in the action, which is sometimes frustrating: just as you begin to get into the narrative, Hermes buts in yet again, leaving me sometimes wanting to yell at him 'shut up'. Then the dying man himself begins contributing to the narrative from his coma, and then the reader is left to doubt whether the 'gods' are actually a figment of his fraying imagination. It is utterly disconcerting and doesn't make for a comfortable read.
This is a highly experimental narrative and I can imagine many readers getting halfway through and just giving up in disgust! The ending is also extremely strange... and yet all the way through the writing is of such a quality - beautiful passages of description, moments of great insight into human nature, and I can imagine vividly the characters I've just spent two days reading about. Not one for the tube though. A really, really odd book.
Let me try to explain.
Firstly, the book has several passages which deal with some of the deepest human and metaphysical questions: what is it to be alive or dead? What is love? What is the nature of reality?
With a philosophy background I hugely enjoyed these bits - for example early on in the book one of the main characters asks "How can he be a self and others others since the others too are selves, to themselves?" Good stuff.
Secondly, one of the narrators is the mythical god Hermes. In my opinion Banville executes this narration perfectly, and the passages where Hermes describes humanity from the perspective of a mischievous and ever-so-slightly envious deity are just brilliant. The author brings remarkable insight into the plight of us mere mortals, and it is a delight to read.
For me, these two aspects of the book are enough to make it well worth the read. And I would imagine that some readers will fall in love with the descriptive passages in the book - giving it five stars and calling it a masterpiece.
Yet while it's a collection of impressive insights and clever literary devices, somehow the sum seems less than the parts. It didn't help that the characters failed to excite me much. This is why I couldn't give it five stars, much as I think the book probably deserves them.
I haven't read ...Read more ›
As the previous reviewers have said, this is a strange book. All the way through it is reminiscent of a play, with the narrator Hermes and his father Zeus directing the narrative and the players. As gods, they can interrupt and change things at their whim. They can take on the form of the other characters to cause mischief, make love to them, or put ideas in their heads. The fact that some of the basic facts of life and history had been altered in the world of this book added to the feeling that I was reading (and at the same time, strangely watching) a drama - it wasn't supposed to be our world. I suspect there are references that I am not clever or educated enough to have picked up, but one of the main characters, Helen, is an actress and her mind often wanders to other plays in which she has acted.
The action takes place over the course of one day in a country house. Old Adam Godley is dying, and his family and other characters have gathered around him. Not an awful lot happens but the gods make subtle changes to ensure everything turns out all right, or as it should do, for all the characters.
Some parts of the book are downright bawdy, and earthy. There is much reference to the 'stink', 'pong' and 'whiff' of humans, and the bodily goings-on which is what being alive is all about. I too loved the philosopy; what distinguishes mortals from immortals being only two things - love and death and the fact that the gods, being denied these, crave them while humans take them for granted.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lot of fun. But ultimately the fun doesn't seen to go anywhere, thought the writing is lovely.Published 3 months ago by Adeyemi
His weaves language like a rich carpet. I never tire of his story-telling, imagery and wit. The best kind of read.Published 13 months ago by Reg Warwick
His writing drives me insane, could not read it because of his long sentences.Published 17 months ago by Amygdala
This is a beautifully written and extraordinary good read. I treasure it and look forward to rereading many times.Published 19 months ago by Frances Nolan
This novel records one ordinary day in the lives of a fairly regular family. Yet there is one extraordinary element to the day, it's that all are on a death watch and the day's... Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2013 by Lily White
This is a real break in style for Banville, and is testament to his bravery; it might alienate as many readers as it wins. Read morePublished on 10 May 2013 by Withnail67
The story line was flat, linear and made me very claustrophobic as did the characters. However, because of Banville's extraordinary way of writing, he could rewrite a telephone... Read morePublished on 9 May 2013 by M
On the face of it, this is typical of the literary genre with a dying patriarch at the centre, and the additional minor plot device of an alternate universe, familiar to any... Read morePublished on 18 Nov. 2012 by John Coffey