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The Infinitiesby John Banville
The Infinities, John Banville's first novel since his Booker Prize-winning The Sea, is a beautiful and moving evocation of a family gathered for the death of its patriarch — a gathering joined by a pantheon of Greek gods, hovering unseen in the background. With sparkling prose and a surprisingly playful tone, this is a lovely and magical work.
Synopses & Reviews
On a languid midsummer's day in the countryside, old Adam Godley, a renowned theoretical mathematician, is dying. His family gathers at his bedside: his son, young Adam, struggling to maintain his marriage to a radiantly beautiful actress; his nineteen-year-old daughter, Petra, filled with voices and visions as she waits for the inevitable; their stepmother, Ursula, whose relations with the Godley children are strained at best; and Petra's young man — very likely more interested in the father than the daughter — who has arrived for a superbly ill-timed visit.
But the Godley family is not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a family of mischievous immortals — among them, Zeus, who has his eye on young Adam's wife; Pan, who has taken the doughy, perspiring form of an old unwelcome acquaintance; and Hermes, who is the genial and omniscient narrator: We too are petty and vindictive, he tells us, just like you, when we are put to it. As old Adam's days on earth run down, these unearthly beings start to stir up trouble, to sometimes wildly unintended effect....
Blissfully inventive and playful, rich in psychological insight and sensual detail, The Infinities is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a wise look at the terrible, wonderful plight of being human — a dazzling novel from one of the most widely admired and acclaimed writers at work today.
"Having apparently exorcised his taste for bloody intrigue with his pseudonym, Benjamin Black, Banville returns to high form (and his given name) with a novel even more pristine than his Booker-winning The Sea. Old Adam Godley lies dying, flying through his past on the way to eternity while his brooding son (also named Adam) sleepwalks through his marriage to the amorous Helen, and young Adam's 'loony sister,' Petra, writes an encyclopedia of human morbidity. But Adam and his brood are not alone, nor is our narrator any detached third person: the gods are afoot, chiefly Hermes, disguised as a farmer, whispering to us of mortal love, guiding old Adam on his way, and laying bare all the Godleys' secrets while divine Zeus conducts 'illicit amours' with Helen. Hermes assures us that mortal speech is 'barely articulate gruntings,' yet Banville has the perfect instrument for his textured prose, almost never as finely tuned as this. The narrative is rife with asides, but it is to the common trajectory of a life that — despite the noise crowding ailing Adam's repose — it lends its most consoling notes, elevating the temporal and profane to the holy eternal." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Choosing introspective character description over rich plotlines, Banville here puts his writing prowess on full display. This work will appeal to readers who enjoy the work of John Updike or Vladimir Nabokov." Library Journal
"The Booker Prize winner retains his standing as one of the world's most exquisite stylists....Banville creates a bewitching world in which to ponder what it is to be human." Booklist (Starred Review)
In his first novel since the Booker Prize-winning The Sea, John Banville gives readers a dazzling new work that chronicles both a human family and a rather unholy gathering of immortals.
About the Author
John Banville is the author of ten novels, including the Man Booker-prize winning novel The Sea. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.
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