Eclipse (Banville novel)
Eclipse by John Banville.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author(s) John Banville
Country Ireland
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Picador
Publication date 2000-09-22
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 208 pp (hardcover)
ISBN 0-330-33933-8
OCLC Number 247400045

Eclipse (2000) is a novel by the Irish writer, John Banville, though its intensely lyrical style and unorthodox structure have prompted some to describe it as more prose poem than novel.


Plot and themes

Its narrator, Alexander Cleave, is a 50 year-old, disillusioned actor who retreats from his career and his wife, Lydia, to his empty childhood home for an indefinite period of introspection. He seeks to uncover, he says, "the blastomere of myself, the coiled hot core of all I was and might be"[1] from years of accreted guises. His desultory ruminations take up the dynamics of family, the nature of identity, and the reliability of memory. The book also addresses epistemological themes. Cleave's solitude is interrupted by what he provisionally believes to be ghosts, "sightings, brief, diaphanous, gleaminlgy translucent, like a series of photographs blown up to life-size and for a moment made wanly animate,"[2] a belief later challenged when he discovers furtive squatters in his house. He also receives portents of the fate of his estranged daughter, Cass, the meaning of which he does not apprehend until the story's conclusion. Of this, Alex Clark writes in The Guardian, ″Ghosts, it appears, can exist in the future as well as the past; whether or not we choose to respond to their beckoning is another matter.″[3]


A New York Times review of the book stated, "Like Nabokov, Banville captures the vivid aesthetic pleasures of quotidian reality in the most satisfying ways....At such moments, his dream of dislocation and transport becomes ours. This is watchfulness as the first step toward engagement, and so back into life." [4] Robert MacFarlane is equally enthusiastic, writing, ″The book is ornately written, heartless in an honest fashion, profoundly interrogative of ideas of identity and, above all, spectacularly beautiful. It is, in ways that so many contemporary novels are not, a work of art.″[5]


  1. ^ Banville, John. Eclipse. Alfred Knopf, 2000, p.15
  2. ^ Banville, John. Eclipse. Alfred Knopf, 2000, p.45
  3. ^ Clark, Alex.″Giving Up the Ghosts,″ ″The Guardian,″ September 16, 2000. Retrieved 2011-7-21
  4. ^ Shepard, Jim."Performance Anxiety", "The New York Times," March 4, 2001. Retrieved: 2011-05-24.
  5. ^ Macfarlane, Robert. ″With Prose Like This, Who Needs a Plot?,″ ″The Observer,″ September 17, 2000. Retrieved 2011-07-21.

External links

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