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The Sea by John Banville
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The Sea (2005)

by John Banville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3661411,589 (3.48)1 / 383
Recently added byrnmdfrd, private library, sonjasaurus, AECP, somethingbrighter, TatjanaJP, sturlington, DanWong
  1. 74
    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (kiwiflowa, Smiler69)
    kiwiflowa: same introspective feel and prose etc
    Smiler69: Both are stories about people dealing with difficult feelings and situations, both beautifully told in gorgeous prose.
  2. 20
    Shroud by John Banville (ghefferon)
  3. 21
    Eclipse by John Banville (bergs47)
  4. 00
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (WSB7)
    WSB7: To me Banville's book deals with similar materials so much more effectively than James.
  5. 00
    Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (sek_smith)
  6. 00
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Men looking back on their youth, similar issues with memories. Both beautiful reads.
  7. 22
    Collected Stories by William Trevor (chrisharpe)
  8. 01
    Eustace and Hilda: A Trilogy by L. P. Hartley (chrisharpe)
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English (131)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
whine, whine, complain, snivel, and then, at the last chapter, GET TO THE POINT!!! ( )
1 vote Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Max Morden is getting old. He has just lost his wife, Anna, and his efforts to deal with that loss cause him to revisit a past that predates her. I expect he is seeking the beginning, the source of who he is, the shaping of himself, a self that he isn’t sure he is at all pleased with.

I could relate to Max’s frantic grappling with death. I have reached that age when losing people has become far too frequent an occurrence. Beyond that, is the specter of his own death which hovers at his elbow, the realization that any one of us can be gone at any moment. In a world of constant change, one change is final and for each of us, things change no more.

”But then, at what moment, of all our moments, is life not utterly changed, until the final most momentous change of all?”

I often find myself looking at ancient family photographs and being struck by the fact that every single person who ever knew or loved those people is gone. No one alive has one single memory of them. They are completely and truly erased. Not a moment of their lives belongs to the earth any longer, unless someone has taken an opportunity to write a shared memory down.

“We carry the dead with us only until we die too, and then it is we who are borne along for a little while, and then our bearers in their turn drop, and so on into the unimaginable generations. I remember Anna, our daughter Claire will remember Anna and remember me, then Claire will be gone and there will be those who remember her but not us, and that will be our final dissolution.”

And, then the final question: Do we even know people when we do share our world with them? How much do we know or understand on one another or even ourselves?

”Already the image of her that I hold in my head is fraying, bits of pigments, flakes of gold leaf, are chipping off. Will the entire canvas be empty one day? I have come to realize how little I knew her, I mean how shallowly I knew her, how ineptly. I do not blame myself for this. Perhaps I should. Was I too lazy, too inattentive, too self-absorbed? Yes, all of those things, and yet I cannot think it is a matter of blame, this forgetting, this not-having-known. I fancy, rather that I expected too much, in the way of knowing. I know so little of myself, how should I think to know another?”

[b:The Sea|3656|The Sea|John Banville|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1386924824s/3656.jpg|987554] leaves you with a lot to think about and a number of questions that seem to pertain to your own life as much as to Max’s. I believe Banville understands people in general and is able to translate that into an individual who is very specific. The story is unexciting and at times uninteresting, the characters boring and normal, the big surprises not very surprising. What makes it worthwhile, for me, are the themes that weave through it and remind us that we are Max; Max is us. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
This was a difficult book for me. The language and writing are in many ways beautiful and enthralling, but the simple fact was that I could not find any reason at all to like the main character. The book is very depressing as it flashes back and forth between a man who has just lost his wife to cancer, his time at the end of her life, and his childhood summers spent by the sea and the people he knew then. There is no real build up to the story and while there is a bit of a twist toward the end, it did not have a great impact on me. Basically when I finished the novel, it left me feeling both sad and full of a sense of hopelessness. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
I'm beginning to conclude that literary prize winners these days are judged on the obscurity and multisyllabic qualities of their vocabulary. This guy knows a lot of words. He can write a beautiful sentence, but then it is followed by many dull paragraphs. I made it through part 1, but part 2 appeared to be exactly the same, and I gave up the plod. When did having an actual story-line go out of fashion, or rather, when is it coming back? ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
Elegant, sparsely-written meditation on memory, nostalgia, love and the loss of innocence. It won't leave you gasping with revelation, but it is a quiet, sensitive joy to wallow in. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Dec 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
"It won last year's Booker prize, so does not exactly need the oxygen of publicity: but this almost airless, deliberately stifled book is one of the more interesting titles that the prize has been conferred upon recently."
 
"His descriptive passages are dense and almost numbingly gorgeous."
 
"It confirms Banville's reputation as once of finest prose stylists working in English today and, in the sheer beauty of its achievement, is unlikely to be bettered by any other novel published this year."
added by bookfitz | editThe Independent, John Tague (Sep 3, 2005)
 
"And Banville's prose is sublime. Several times on every page the reader is arrested by a line or sentence that demands to be read again."
added by bookfitz | editThe Telegraph, Lewis Jones (Jun 5, 2005)
 

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John Banvilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Castanyo, EduardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidaysd as a child-a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her, But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins-Chloe, fiery and forthright,m and Myles, silent and expressionless-in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the 'barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories. Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna-of their life together, of her death- and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; amd with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart." What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of the elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel-among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer. 210
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307263118, Hardcover)

Incandescent prose. Beautifully textured characterisation. Transparent narratives. The adjectives to describe the writing of John Banville are all affirmative, and The Sea is a ringing affirmation of all his best qualities. His publishers are claiming that this novel by the Booker-shortlisted author is his finest yet, and while that claim may have an element of hyperbole, there is no denying that this perfectly balanced book is among the writer’s most accomplished work.

Max Morden has reached a crossroads in his life, and is trying hard to deal with several disturbing things. A recent loss is still taking its toll on him, and a trauma in his past is similarly proving hard to deal with. He decides that he will return to a town on the coast at which he spent a memorable holiday when a boy. His memory of that time devolves on the charismatic Grace family, particularly the seductive twins Myles and Chloe. In a very short time, Max found himself drawn into a strange relationship with them, and pursuant events left their mark on him for the rest of his life. But will he be able to exorcise those memories of the past?

The fashion in which John Banville draws the reader into this hypnotic and disturbing world is non pareil, and the very complex relationships between his brilliantly delineated cast of characters are orchestrated with a master’s skill. As in such books as Shroud and The Book of Evidence, the author eschews the obvious at all times, and the narrative is delivered with subtlety and understatement. The genuine moments of drama, when they do occur, are commensurately more powerful. --Barry Forshaw

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Following the death of his wife, Max Morden retreats to the seaside town of his childhood summers, where his own life becomes inextricably entwined with the members of the vacationing Grace family.

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