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Banville, John

ISBN 10: 0953419231 / ISBN 13: 9780953419234
Published by Bridgewater Press, London, United Kingdom, 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From TransAtlantic Books (Wilton Manors, FL, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Limited SIGNED first edition, copy #99 of only 138 copies. On Archival Parchment paper. This is the true first edition which preceded the trade publication. Bookseller Inventory # 3218A

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Eclipse

Publisher: Bridgewater Press, London, United Kingdom

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Alexander Cleave, actor, has left his career and his family behind and banished himself to his childhood home. He wants to retire from life, but finds this impossible in a house brimming with presences, some ghostly, some undeniably human. Memories, anxiety for the future, and more particularly, for his beloved but troubled daughter, conspire to distract him from his dreaming retirement. This humane and beautifully written story tells the tragic tale of a man, intelligent, preposterous, and vulnerable, who in attempting to bring the performance to a close, finds himself travelling inevitably towards a devastating denouement.


John Banville's novels have a reputation for their linguistic flair and carefully observed description. His latest novel, Eclipse, is no exception in this regard. It tells the story of Alexander Cleave, a dramatic actor with "the famous eyes whose flash of fire could penetrate to the very back row of the stalls". Cleave has however recently experienced an actor's ultimate fear--"he died, corpsed in the middle of the last act and staggered off the stage in sweaty ignominy just when the action was coming to its climax".

The impact upon Cleave of the collapse of his acting career is devastating and leads him to reassess his entire life. Looking back on his childhood, he realises that "acting was inevitable. From earliest days life for me was a perpetual state of being watched". Cleave flees to the house in the country where he grew up and, as he sinks into a depressed torpor, he realises that the house is inhabited by both ghosts from the past, as well as more furtive and tangible presences from the moment. Visited by his anguished wife Lydia, and obsessing on his fractured relationship with his academically gifted but disturbed daughter Cass, Cleave reflects with great emotional intensity on "the terror of the self, of letting the self go so far free that one night it might break away".

Eclipse is a beautifully written but dark and introspective novel. It often almost completely dispenses with plot, as Banville (author of Booker short-listed The Book of Evidence to The Untouchable) probes deeper into Cleave's disturbed reflection on his life, his family, his past and his present, all of which culminates in a desolate and unexpected ending. Eclipse is an elegiac, mournful novel, linguistically brilliant but somewhat unrelenting. --Jerry Brotton

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