The Poetics of “Pure Invention”: John Banville’s Ghosts

Authors

  • Neil Murphy NTU Singapore

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v22i1.3851

Keywords:

Ghosts, Pure invention, Paintings, Intertext, Narrative, Vaublin

Abstract

This essay argues that John Banville’s Ghosts (1993) may in fact be Banville’s most technically inventive novel, replete as it is with multi-layered ontological levels that repeatedly bring its primary diegetic discourse into communion with other artistic forms – music, paintings, statues, as well as a narrative saturation with other literary antecedents that exceeds anything found elsewhere in his work. Ghosts demonstrates an implicit layering of dialectical levels, in effect a narrative enactment of the multiple worlds theory that so fascinates several of Banville’s narrators. Nowhere else does he generate so comprehensive a model of a multi-level ontological system in which the levels intersect so purposefully as Ghosts. This essay maps out a topography of what is effectively a sophisticated fictional variant on the scientific multiple worlds theory in Ghosts, and offers some perspectives on the significance of this aesthetic model.

Author Biography

Neil Murphy, NTU Singapore

Neil Murphy is Professor of English at NTU Singapore. He is the author of Irish Fiction and Postmodern Doubt (2004) and editor of Aidan Higgins: The Fragility of Form (2010). He has also co-edited (with Keith Hopper) a special Flann O’Brien centenary issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction (2011) and The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien (2013). He has also co-edited (with Keith Hopper) a four book series related to the work of Dermot Healy: a scholarly edition of Fighting with Shadows (2015); Dermot Healy: The Collected Short Stories (2015); Dermot Healy: The Collected Plays (2016); and Writing the Sky: Observations and Essays on Dermot Healy (2016). His monograph, John Banville (2018), was published by Bucknell University Press and he is a co-editor (with W. Michelle Wang & Daniel K. Jernigan) of The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature (2020). He has written numerous articles and chapters on the work of John Banville.

References

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Published

2021-02-20

How to Cite

Murphy, N. (2021). The Poetics of “Pure Invention”: John Banville’s Ghosts. ABEI Journal: The Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies, 22(1), 109-120. https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v22i1.3851