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The Newton Letter by John Banville

The Newton Letter (1982)

by John Banville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Revolutions Trilogy (3)

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3061154,463 (3.17)28



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English (9)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Meh. Only made it to page 12. Boring and not the story for me. It's about a man going to Isaac Newton's final house to finish writing his book.
  booklover3258 | Jun 21, 2018 |
This is the first book that I have read by John Banville. It was a very short book and it seemed a little vague to me. This book leads one to believe that the book is about Isaac Newton but he is only mentioned and not really the focus of the book. That being said, I look forward to reading another of his books in order to compare the writing with this one as I feel this is not one of his best books. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
3.5 stars ( )
  Lynsey2 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This is such a peculiar little book, not in and of itself, but because it is the third in a trilogy dealing with great historical scientists and their world-changing discoveries, and yet Isaac Newton barely features. The narrator is writing, and has abandoned near completion, a book about the physicist, but there is only one real direct exploration of Newton, via two letters written during or as a result of a nervous breakdown, and one of those letters is fictional. Instead, we have an odd little tale of an academic historian interloper who encounters a family, does questionable things and makes questionable assumptions only to have it all turned on its head. Perhaps there is some clever narrative conceit here, and the story mirrors or is informed by Newton's various laws, but rather it seems more like a microcosm of a world that believes one set of things to be true thrown into disarray when it turns out to be completely wrong. Having such a process re-enacted in a banal, sordid little family drama is more in keeping with the rest of the trilogy, where the great cosmic insights were set against the grinding frustrations of the prosaic everyday world. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
An author rents a cottage on an estate in Ireland to finish writing his book on Isaac Newton, and instead becomes obsessed with a family living in the big house. His obsession leads him to imagine lives for the members of the family that are a far cry from the truth.

It's a beautifully written narrative of a man's thoughts and the motivation that propels his actions and inaction. There were moments when I could not like the man, and moments when I sympathized with him. The ending was disquieting and I wonder if the author meant for the reader to come to their own conclusions. ( )
  cameling | Dec 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banville, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nijmeijer, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"I seem to have been only as a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." - Sir Isaac Newton
To Vincent Lawrence
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Words fail me, Clio.
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In The Newton Letter, a historian trying to finish a book on Isaac Newton rents a cottage outside Dublin where he becomes obsessed with the family's history. Banville "uses the implication of the science he describes to turn biography back on itself. . . his most impressive work to date." --The New York Times

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A historian, trying to finish a long-overdue book on Isaac Newton, rent a cottage not far by train from Dublin for the summer. All he need, he thinks, is a few weeks of concentrated work. Why, he must unravel, did Newton break down in 1693? What possessed him to write that strange letter to his friend John Locke? But in the long seeping summer days, old sloth and present reality take over.
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A historian, about to complete a book on Isaac Newton, rents a cottage in Ireland. His intention is to put the finishing touches to his manuscript. However, as the summer wears on, he becomes obsessed by his writing. By the author of 'The Book of Evidence', shortlisted for the Booker Prize.… (more)

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