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The Infinities (Vintage International)by John Banville
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.
"Dazzling....Banville is, without question, one of the great living masters of English-language prose. The Infinities is a dazzling example of that mastery." Los Angeles Times
"Unforgettable, beautifully written....Banville is frequently compared to such masters as Beckett and Nabokov, and for years his books have been among the most haunting, beautiful and downright strange in contemporary literature....If Banville is capable of writing an unmemorable sentence, he has successfully concealed the evidence." The Washington Post
"If The Infinities has the bones of a novel of ideas, it’s fleshed out and robed as a novel of sensibility and style....Sumptuous." The New York Times Book Review
"Ingenious....[The Infinities deals with] mortality, creativity, and the possibility of making something truly new in a world that seems increasingly exhausted morally, politically, and spiritually." The New Yorker
"Entrancing....Banville achieves real depth in this alternately grave and bawdy exploration of the nature of time, the legacy of grief, and the costs and sources of inspiration." San Francisco Chronicle
"Seamlessly sophisticated fiction....[Banville’s] agility is abundantly evident....It takes expert writerly effort to toss each little thunderbolt with such seeming ease." The New York Times
"Mesmerizing.... The Infinities is rife with mischief, as well as godly/authorial omniscience, irony and wordplay, but what warms and anchors it is its humanity." The Miami Herald
"Intriguing, complex, and ultimately elusive, The Infinities manages, through divine sleight of mind, to bring glimmers of possibility to its dark characters: as such, it is a novel for our hopeless times." Claire Messud, Irish Times
"A Midsummer Night’s Dream of a story....Pure pleasure." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Banville’s best and brightest work....Masterful." Bookforum
"Banville may have surpassed himself with the brilliance and introspection of his writing in [this] mythic novel." The Buffalo News
"Characteristically gorgeous." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
"Like Nabokov, Banville has a wide-ranging intellect and a rather godlike view of the power of fiction — and, like Nabokov, he’s got the goods to back it up. The Infinities is an inventive melding of myth and realism, a sly and poignant tale of lust and loss, but above all it is a joy to read for the sheer beauty of its language." St. Petersburg Times
"The Infinities is a Beethoven string quartet of a novel. It deals with huge ideas — plenty of them — and in doing so, breaks new ground in its own medium....A masterpiece of a book." Daily Telegraph (London)
On a languid midsummer’s day in the countryside, the Godley family gathers at the bedside of Adam, a renowned mathematician and their patriarch. But they are not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a clan of mischievous immortals — Zeus, Pan, and Hermes among them — who begin to stir up trouble for the Godleys, to sometimes wildly unintended effect. The Infinities — John Banville’s first novel since his Booker Prize-winning and bestselling The Sea — is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a wise look at the terrible, wonderful plight of being human.
About the Author
John Banville, the author of fourteen previous novels, has been the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.
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