John Banville: Art and Authenticity

By Eoghan Smith

Oxford: Peter Lang

187 pp. | ISBN 978-3-0343-0852-6 | £36.00

This study explores the fiction of John Banville within a variety of cultural, political, ethical and philosophical contexts. Through thematic readings of the novels, Eoghan Smith examines the complexity of Banville’s view of the artwork and explores the novelist’s attraction and resistance to forms of authenticity, whether aesthetic, existential or ideological.

Emphasizing in particular the influence of Banville’s major Irish modernist precursor, Samuel Beckett, this book places the local elements of his writing alongside his wide-ranging literary and philosophical interests. Highlighting the evolving nature of Banville’s engagement with varieties of authenticity, it explores the art of failure and the failure of art, the power and politics of the contemporary imagination, and the ways in which this important contemporary writer continues to redefine the boundaries of Irish fiction.

Contents: Pure Refinement: Questioning Art and Politics in Birchwood and The Newton Letter – Progressive Failing: The Science Tetralogy – The Pretext of Things: The Book of Evidence, Ghosts and Athena – Lives and Deaths: The Untouchable, Eclipse and Shroud – The Point of Oblivion: The Sea, The Infinities and Ancient Light.

Available from