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Ghosts Paperback – November 8, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 8, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679755128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679755128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The narrator of this lyrical novel by the author of The Book of Evidence banishes himself to a deserted island inhabited by two other castaways.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A bedraggled medley of castaways from a day outing wash ashore a remote island. Led by Felix, the unctuous, mutable "lord of the streets," they include many of the same Faustian types--the innocent girl, the moribund gentleman--who inhabit Banville's previous fiction, The Book of Evidence ( LJ 3/1/90) and Mephisto (Godine, 1989). They have, perhaps, walked "straight out of the deepest longings" of the forsaken trio already sentenced to live on that island: an art expert with dubious credentials, Professor Kreutnaer; his disgruntled, lovelorn assistant Licht; and the familiar ex-convict who is also our first-person narrator. Banville is not so much interested in the plight of the castaways, whom he arranges in a tableau vivant and then abandons, as he is in the criminal descent and groping atonement of his hapless narrator. Here Banville's quirky, Beckettian stream-of-consciousness takes off: pathetic, noble, hilarious, this narrator is an utterly original "little god." The novel, though in some ways incomplete, is an exuberant, virtuosic display.
- Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of thirteen previous novels including The Book of Evidence, which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize. He has received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation. He lives in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
His wonderful way with words paints a very specific picture.
Patricia K.
It always feels like something is about to happen, and the tension is pitched right at the edge.
Michael Battaglia
What a wonderful writer John Banville is--if only one can get oneself to read him.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Voracious Reader" tells you on this site all about the details. I wanted to add, as I have for other Banville novels that I have reviewed on Amazon, samples of the prose. Yes, the Beckett-ish style in this novel, which if you have never read Banville would appear turgid and stolid, dominates even more than usual. Why? Isolating most of the story on the decidedly non-Irish sounding island of Cythera (despite the presence of a garda, Toner), the focus in "Ghosts" shimmers more like mirages or hallucinations, as you have as a reader fewer distractions within urban life as many of Banville's later novels have begun exploring. albeit tangentially.

I read this after not only "Book of Evidence"--which must be completed first, but after the last of the three novels narrated by Freddie Montgomery, "Athena." Actually, I did not miss much out of order, except the introduction of Freddie's interest in Vaublin, himself as enigmatic as his work "The Golden Age." The whole "tableaux mort" scenario that Sophie's arrival seems to portend is curiously left aside as the book continues after the initially suspenseful shipwreck of the motley crew of passengers. I wish we knew more about Felix, not to mention the appropriately monikered Croke. The characters from the ship seem almost Dickensian as well as Beckettian, but they largely remain sketched rather than filled in.

The novel does seem to slip at the point around pp. 190-200, when first the Xhosa and then Diderot appear to no convincing end, digressing from an already dissolving narrative frame.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on May 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Little do people know that Ghosts (1993) is the second installment of John Banville's Freddie Montgomery trilogy. The Book of Evidence (1989) begins the sequence, which consists of Freddie's grim and gruesome confession of the brutal murder of a maidservant who interrupted his escapade of stealing a painting. Serving ten years in jail, the ex-con came to a secluded island to accommodate life and live in solitude. Professor Kreutzner, an eminent historian, was the world's most prestigious authority on the painter Vaublin, whose works were abound with strange and eerily pleasing asymmetry of misplaced figures. The paintings generated inevitably over and above it an air of mystery of what it was that happened. Along with the sulky butler and assistant Licht, who cooked and typed up manuscripts, Freddie assisted the professor in his manuscripts. The work represented for Freddie the last outpost at the border of his life.
Readers who haven't read The Book of Evidence will find the narrator and the narrative ambiguous, surreptitious, and turbid. Not only did Freddie incessantly recount on events that led to his imprisonment, he delved on philosophical issues like the redemption and the accommodation of self and the conscience. Out of guilt for his crime, the narrator professed this many-world theory that a multiplicity of worlds existed in a mirrored regression in which the dead were not dead. The notion of dreams recurred throughout the narrative and thrusted the main plot. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether he was recalling some riotous tumble of events in his dreams or simply telling the truth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Mahoney on June 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the middle section of a trilogy, "Ghosts" is enigmatic in the extreme. The novel begins as mysteriously as it ends and will probably seem utterly befuddling to those who have not read its far superior successor "The Book of Evidence." Familiarity with the latter helps explain the narrator Freddie Montgomery's fascination with the young and beautiful Flora. After years of incarceration, Freddie strives "by harmless industry to do a repair job" on his "rotten soul," a task that includes resurrecting the female victim of his heinous crime. Accordingly, he retreats to a nameless island and lends assistance to a taciturn art professor. There he skulks in the shadows and generally avoids contact with a cast of castaways, two-dimensional characters who have, in a sense, stepped from a Dutch painting. The work by Vaublin exemplifies the novel's preoccupation with the blurred distinction between reality and pretense.
Stylistically, "Ghosts" is no departure for Banville. "For three decades," critic Robert MacFarlane aptly notes, "John Banville has been refining the exquisite, mandarin style that is his hallmark, and establishing himself as the finest writer of the confessional narrative since Nabokov." That voice, refined and digressive, the linguistic equivalent of a baroque facade to a haunted house, drives "Ghosts" and compensates in part for the novel's near absence of plot. All is quiescence, a preparation for final acts.
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