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Eclipse (2000)

by John Banville, John Banville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alexander Cleave Trilogy (1)

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7091432,349 (3.45)8
In this deeply moving and original book, John Banville alloys mystery, fable, and ghost story with poignant psychological acuity to forge the riveting story of a man wary of the future, plagued by the past, and so uncertain in the present that he cannot discern the spectral from the real. When renowned actor Alexander Cleave was a boy living in a large house with his widowed mother and various itinerant lodgers, he encountered a strikingly vivid ghost of his father. Now that he’s fifty and has returned to his boyhood home to recover from a nervous breakdown on stage, he is not surprised to find the place still haunted. He is surprised, however, at the presence of two new lodgers who have covertly settled into his old roost. And he is soon overwhelmed by how they, coupled with an onslaught of disturbing memories, compel him to confront the clutter that has become his life: ruined career, tenuous marriage, and troubled relationship with an estranged daughter destined for doom.… (more)
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» See also 8 mentions

English (13)  Dutch (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Questo fantasma che ti corre innanzi, fratello, è più bello di te; perché non gli dai la tua carne e le tue ossa? Ma tu hai paura e corri dal tuo prossimo.
(Così parlò Zarathustra, Nietzsche)

"Cosa?" Ultimamente mi riusciva difficile capire anche le cose più semplici che diceva la gente, come se questa parlasse in una lingua a me sconosciuta: conoscevo le parole, sì, ma non riuscivo ad assemblarle in modo che avessero un senso.
(13)

E anche lì vedevo fantasmi di ogni tipo, persone che non potevano più essere vive, persone che erano già vecchie quando io ero giovane, figure del passato, del mito e della leggenda.
(249) ( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
Stripped down to its core, the plot is pretty simple. A man suffering from a mid-life crisis in an estranged relationship with his wife and they have a mentally not-so-stable daughter. He returns to his childhood home to try to sort things out. But John Banville obfuscates the plot with phantoms and numerous recalls of seemingly non-events. There is also the side-plot of Quirke and his daughter. Thankfully, the book is not long and the book abounds with poetic sentences. ( )
  siok | Feb 4, 2023 |
Beautifully written but I really didn't get it. ( )
  ibkennedy | May 24, 2021 |
This John Banville novel shares a time-frame and characters with his book Shroud. I read Shroud first (about ten years ago), although Eclipse was the first of the two to be published. They have a single development in common for their respective endings, so that no matter in which sequence one might read them, the first will "spoil" the second in some measure. In neither case should that be a problem, though. The value of both books is in their language, the interior dramas of their first-person central characters (I hesitate to use the word "protagonist," particularly for Shroud), and the ways in which understandings dawn on them.

Eclipse is gentler by far than its sequel. Alex Cleave is a stage actor in the twilight of his career. His marriage is failing, and he returns to stay in the empty boarding house that he had inherited from his mother. In this place, he is subjected to a variety of hauntings. He has profound feelings of loss, but he is seeking solitude to identify their object, which remains obscure to him. As in Shroud (and even more so the novel which Banville wrote after that, the award-winning The Sea) much of the text consists of the reminiscences of an older man immersing himself in a nostalgic solitude.

This might be my least favorite of the Banville novels I've read to date, but it's still impressive and engaging.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Jul 7, 2015 |
Procrastination of scholarly work made sure I had to read this book in a very short amount of time. Some nuances will probably be lost on me, but I think I got the gist of it. 'Eclipse' is written in a very lyrical style, resulting in some absolutely ridiculous sentences, but at the same time creating a rather speficic rhythm that serves the story quite nicely.

The story itself is about an actor called Alexander, a rather disjointed figure who has never actually managed to live in the real present day world. Symbolically, he abandons everything to live in the house where he was raised, a house that is somewhat haunted. One could argue the real ghosts are the living - they are the people who seem out of place in the novel. Identity is very problematic in this book. Every character is marked by a big empty void, a lack of motivation/inspiration/etc. Fascinating, but not really a book that will leave you smiling.

Which, of course, doesn't mean you should avoid this novel. It's quite well written and has some interesting ideas. Probably won't leave a lasting impression though. ( )
  WorldInColour | Oct 12, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Banvilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Banville, Johnmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterre, Jan Pieter van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In this deeply moving and original book, John Banville alloys mystery, fable, and ghost story with poignant psychological acuity to forge the riveting story of a man wary of the future, plagued by the past, and so uncertain in the present that he cannot discern the spectral from the real. When renowned actor Alexander Cleave was a boy living in a large house with his widowed mother and various itinerant lodgers, he encountered a strikingly vivid ghost of his father. Now that he’s fifty and has returned to his boyhood home to recover from a nervous breakdown on stage, he is not surprised to find the place still haunted. He is surprised, however, at the presence of two new lodgers who have covertly settled into his old roost. And he is soon overwhelmed by how they, coupled with an onslaught of disturbing memories, compel him to confront the clutter that has become his life: ruined career, tenuous marriage, and troubled relationship with an estranged daughter destined for doom.

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