*E-pub ⇔ The Sea ↬ Ebook or Kindle ePUB free

John Banville won the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for this novel, and what a well deserved honour and tribute for this masterfully written, poignant and deeply moving story.I read somewhere that John Banville is considered a writer s writer I can definitely see that On the other hand, he is also a reader s writer because I am a reader, and thousands of other readers have also enjoyed Mr Banville s writing.This is Max Morden s story and he narrates throughout Seamlessly, we follow him along as he talks about boyhood summers somewhere on the South coast of Ireland He refers to a nearby town as Bally and the summer spot as a nearby village, let s call it Ballyless. In the present, he is in mourning and having a difficult time dealing with his grief He drinks too much, ignores his work, and is intent on seeking some answers, or something he can hang onto, from his past summers when he was young.We meet the Grace family Carlo, Connie, their children Chloe and Myles, and their minder or perhaps governess, Rose This family is perceived by Max as his social superiors but he is drawn to them for many reasons partly curiosity, partly out of loneliness, and somewhat out of boredom The Graces fascinate him, especially noticeable while he relates his experiences with them as a boy However, with all the time that has passed between then and now, their once large summer home has become a boarding house, and he seeks it out to stay in and perhaps looks to his past to help him heal.As Max relates his story, moving back and forth between then and now, it is clear that his past influenced his future, and that his now is also very much influencing how he views his past He argues with himself, chastising himself at times for not being clear about a point Sometimes he will make the point again the same point using different words Sometimes he corrects his course in the narrative with an addition that makes it clearer Sometimes he says he is digressing too far or embellishing, so scratch that, and this is how it was Of course, once it is stated, it s not easy nor is it prudent to forget it and buy in completely to the new perspective.This is not a long book, although it definitely is not one to attempt to rush through The author sets the pace, takes control of this story, and doesn t let it go for a moment I was a very willing passenger on this journey with Max and there were times that something he said startled my own past memories into my reading experience Countless times I had to set the book down and indulge in my own personal reveries In most respects they weren t connected to the story except by a small filament of invisible thread, yet once the thread was pulled into my sight, I had no choice but to follow it.Oh And the words I wanted to mention the words some of them I had to jot down because I might need them some day for a game like when you have a whole slew of vowels etiolate could be most helpful , or maybe just because certain words add clarity to what might be awatery picture without them This novel is a masterpiece of words used exactly as they should be precisely when they need to be.I had several quotes highlighted that I especially savoured, and then I changed my mind about adding them to my review Please, please read this exceptional novel and discover them for yourself Of one thing I am certain each person will come away with their own reveries, their own captured words, and the phrases and sentences that moved them the most.I recommend this to everyone who has ever danced with words and or read a wonderful story composed of them, and a reminder that this is a slow waltzone that you will always remember. , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, ,Banville , ,, , , , , , , , ,, , , ,,,, ,, , , ,, , ,, , , . Ah, the sea especially the smell of the sea, a phrase as familiar as the idea that aromas have a visceral power to exhume memories we didn t know we had ever had and lost.Smells of all sorts permeate the pages of this book and waft up, creating a synaesthetic connection to people and places in Max s life My second hand paper book added a medley of vague aromas of its own Not something to read on Kindle though for me, nothing is.ScentsThis is an intensely sensual book, but not in the usual sense It s about the power of one of the senses, smell, in the context of bereaved reminiscence Max frequently mentions the smell of things Not all are pleasant, but they colour his memories in a profound way.Smell and taste are interdependent Unlike the other senses, it s almost impossible to describe them except in comparison with other smells and tastes hence wines with undertones of apricot, accents of peat, and aftertaste of daisies I think it s also why it s so difficult to remember, let alone imagine smells at will One s mind s eye and ear are so muchbiddable Even touch is easier to recall and describe Banville prompted me to to try, though.Sit or lie somewhere comfortable, quiet, and dark Touch is easy start by noticing what you can actually feel the curve of the chair, the fabric and seams of your clothes, the warmth of the sun on your skin.Then remember or imagine touches the shrill blast of a strong salt sea breeze on your face, stroking the soft silky fur of a cat, the abrasion of warm, wet, sand between your toes.Now add sights and sounds the view of the ocean and howl of the wind, the purring of the inscrutable black cat, the colour of the sand and the hiss of the waves coming down on it You can see and hear and feel it all.But smell and taste Much harder Think of a favourite food siu mai You can see it, you can feel its texture, and hear the sound as you bite into it But can you describe, let alone experience its taste and smell Maybe it s precisely because smells don t readily convert to similes and metaphors that they are such powerful triggers Back to the bookNarrators Banville Morden Cleave We sought to escape from an intolerable present in the only tense possible, the past. Max Morden is barely distinguishable from Alex Cleave in the Eclipse, Shroud, Ancient Light trilogy Ancient Light reviewed HERE , who is apparently rather similar to Banville Max and Alex narrate in exactly the same rambling, occasionally introspective, self centred, curmudgeonly, largely guilt free, and invariably misogynistic voice The writing is sweet and sour And beautiful.Fluency disguises an underlying inarticulacy in the face of recent and ancient tragedies, where the cruel complacency of ordinary things is epitomised by tight lipped awkwardness of furniture, and for the people involved, From this day forward, all would be dissembling There would be no other way to live with death Even the land is inarticulate Marsh and mud flats where everything seemed turned away from the land, looking desperately towards the horizon as if in mute search for a sign of rescue And web toed Myles is literally mute Being alone with Myles was like being in a room which someone had just violently left His muteness was a pervasive and cloying emanation Both narrators are forever questioning their own motives and pointing out the inconsistencies of their memories It has all begun to run together, past and possible future and impossible present As an art historian, Max is familiar with touching up portraits Memories are always eager to match themselves seamlessly to the things and places of a revisited past Alex, and especially Max, are trying to write They both have a problematic daughter, referred to by two names beginning with C Both had, or fantasised about, a youthful relationship with a mother figure, the similarly named Mrs Grace and Mrs Gray And in this case, the inadvertent temptress even offers him an apple.Most importantly, both have past and present tragedies, and revisit the former to understand and cope with the latter.The ending is rushed too many events and revelations and I do not like Max or Alex to the extent I almost wonder why I like these books With women, wait long enough and one will have one s way and his reveries are in the unvarying form of pursuit and capture and violent overmastering Nevertheless, Banville s skill is such that I have some sympathy for them, and I want to know their stories.Quotes Smells My daughter usually has no smell at all unlike her mother, whose feral reek, for me the stewy fragrance of life itself, and which the strongest perfume could not quite suppress, was the thing that first drew me to her In her last months, she smelt, at her best, of pharmacopoeia The cool thick secret smell of milk made me think of Mrs Grace A mingled smell of spilt beer and stale cigarette smoke As I was heaving myself over in a tangle of sheets I caught a whiff of my own warm cheesy smell She smelled of sweat and cold cream and, faintly, of cooking fat A whiff of her sweat dampened civet scent Her milk and vinegar smell Little animals we were, sniffing at each other I liked in particular the cheesy tang in the crevices of her elbows and knees In general she gave off a flattish, fawnish odour, like that which comes out of, which used to come out of, empty biscuit tins in shop Recently bereaved, new places are like a wedding suit smelling of moth balls and no longer fitting Peppermints the faint sickly smell of which pervades the house The squat black gas stove sullen in its corner and smelling of the previous lodger s fried dinners The smell in the hall was like the smell of my breath when I breathed and rebreathed it into my cupped hands Smells of exhaust smoke, the sea, the garden s autumn rot Railway giving off its mephtic whiff of ash and gas In a tree, at this height the breeze smelling of inland things, earth, and smoke, and animals An abandoned beach hut, smelling of old urine On the point of death, her breath gave off a mild, dry stink, as of withered flowers.Quotes Sea The waves clawed at the suave sand along the waterline, scrabbling to hold their ground but steadily failing Lead blue and malignantly agleam A white seabird, dazzling against the wall of cloud, flew up on sickle wings and turned with a soundless snap and plunged itself, a shutting chevron, into the sea s unruly back The seabirds rose and dived like torn scraps of rag The salt sharpened light By the sea, there is a special quality to the silence at night It is like the silence that I knew in the sickrooms of my childhood It is a place like the place where I feel that I am now, miles from anywhere, and anyone Hearing the monotonously repeated ragged collapse of waves down on the beach Quotes Memories, Aging, Past, Future The past beats inside me like a second heart I have been elbowed aside by a parody of myself These days I must take the world in small and carefully measured doses, it is a sort of homeopathic cure Perhaps I am learning to live amongst the living again But no, that s not it Being here is just a way of not being anywhere The image that I hold of her in my head is fraying, bits of pigment, flakes of gold leaf, are chipping off Happiness was different in childhood a matter of simple accumulation, of taking things and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self Quotes Other To be concealed, protected, guarded, that is all I have ever truly wanted, to burrow down into a place of womby warmth, and cower there, hidden from the sky s indifferent gaze and the harsh air s damagings Rust has reduced its struts to a tremulous filigree A gate The wink of a new neighbour, jaunty, intimate and faintly satanic The smile she reserved for him husband , sceptical, tolerant, languidly amused The chalet that we rented was a slightly less than life sized wooden model of a house Father returns in a wordless fury, bearing the fruits of his day like so much luggage clutched in his clenched fists Their unhappiness was one of the constants of my earliest years, a high, unceasing buzz just beyond hearing I loved them, probably Only they were in my way, obscuring my view of the future In time I would be able to see right through them, my transparent parents Even from inside the car we could hear the palms on the lawn in from dreamily clacking their dry fronds Despite the glacial air a muted hint of past carousings lingered Beyond the smouldering sunlight there is the placid gloom of indoors Perhaps all life is nothan a long preparation for the leaving of it Light of summer thick as honey fell from the tall windows and glowed on the figured carpets That fretful, dry, papery rustle that harbinges autumn The Godhead for me was a menace, and I responded with fear and its inevitable concomitant, guilt But that s as a child Devout as holy drinkers, dipped our faces towards each other I tasted her urgent breath It was as if the evening, in all the drench and drip of its fallacious pathos, had temporarily taken over from me the burden of grieving The open doorway from which a fat slab of sunlight lay fallen at our feet Now and then a breeze from outside would wander in absent mindedly For even at such a tender age I knew there is always a lover and a loved, and knew which one, in this case, I would be A series ofor less enraptured humiliations She accepted me as a supplicant at her shrine with disconcerting complacency Her willful vagueness tormented and infuriated me Is this not the secret aim of all of us, to be no longer flesh but transformed utterly into the gossamer of unsuffering spirit A chintz covered sofa sprawls as if aghast, its two arms flung wide and cushions sagging Piano, its lid shut, stands against the back wall as if in tight lipped resentment of its gaudy rival opposite The canned audience doing our laughing for us The polished pewter light of the emptied afternoon The copper coloured light of the late autumn evening Puddles on the road that now were paler than the sky, as if the last of day were dying in them Drowning is the gentlest death See Also The Sea, The SeaI was strongly reminded of this Banville book and also his Ancient Light when I read Iris Murdoch s one from 30 years earlier the title, setting, the narrator s character and introspection See my review HERE Banville islyrical, slightly less philosophical, and Morden less unpleasant Image source of nose sculpture on a beach at Colmslie Beach Reserve in Brisbane recommended by Dolors, in relation to The Sense of an Ending Her review of this is here Nude in the Bath and Small Dog, Pierre Bonnard, 1941 46What has this luminous painting of a female bather to do with a book called The Sea , you might ask More than you might think Pierre Bonnard, a French Post Impressionist painter, often painted his wife Marthe He painted this particular piece when she was in her 70s, and she had died by the time he completed it We can see by virtue of the recognisable images of female form and bathtub, the general gist of the painting But the image goes beyond the bounds of reality with the misshapen bathtub that accommodates impossibly long and bent limbs, the colours shimmering and waving on the organically undulating walls as though they might just disappear at any moment, a dog on what might be a mat or a square of light on the slanted floor, brushstroke after gorgeous brushstroke coming together to simulate Marthe s moment of private repose The moment is almost certainly of a younger Marthe, though It is the artist s memories of an earlier,youthful momentThere is a formula, which fits painting perfectly, wrote Bonnard, many little lies to create a great truth Not only is the narrator of this novella, Max Morden, attempting to write a book about Bonnard, not only did Max s own wife during her painful decline enjoy the silent comfort of baths, but like Bonnard, he is trying to cobble together an image, one of his wife and his life, looking back as an aging widower These memories and images are as elusive, as distorted, as tricky as the painting But when brought together, they capture the luminosity, pain and newness of a pivotal summer in his youth.Max is a flawed and not particularly likeable character, and he s often looking through the bottom of a bottle, which adds to the hazy unreliability of his point of view His aching melancholy is always felt, an aging man who can only look back and piece together as best he can, a story that is at once innocent and vaguely sinister This exploration of memory, grief and loss washes over you with many waves, dragging you under to the murky depths.Reading John Banville is like gazing at a painting His poetic style is incredibly evocative and visual He brings his readers to the scene, right up close to his subjects We can smell their breath, we can see the little imperfections At the same time, we are not entirely sure how this person got there, were they wearing a blue dress or a floral one He meanders between past and present, revealing just enough, a trail of literary breadcrumbs Each brushstroke works with the next to complete the story This 2005 Booker Prize winner is gorgeous, a masterpiece, delineating the difference between literature and just plain fiction. And I, who timidly hate life, fear death with fascination Livro do desassossego, Fernando Pessoa Perhaps all of life is nothan a long preparation for the leaving of it proclaims Max Morten, narrator and main character of The Sea, after his wife Anna passes away victim of a long and enduring illness.Drowning in the grief which comes with the vast and ruthless sea of loss, he decides to seclude himself in the little coastal village where he spent his summers as a boy A flood of unavoidable memories charged with haunted emotion and digressive meditations recreate that dreamy atmosphere that only childhood can nurture New found memories which serve to wash away his conflicting emotions between the impotence of witnessing life quietly fading away and the cruel complacency of ordinary things allowing death to happen indifferently.But as Max invades his frozen memories he awakens ghosts long gone though never forgotten and the unsettling and seductive Grace twins, his childhood friends, will become sharply delineated on the wall of his memory, prompting unintended recollections about the strangeness and dislocation of one s own existence and the immortal burden of being the survivorYou are not even allowed to hate me a little, any , like you used tosays Anna to Max with a sad, knowing smile Isn t it true that we can t help hating the ones we love the most We are human beings after all And the guilt and the anger and the violence which come after our beloved have been irrevocably usurped from us, leaving us alone with all that self disgust, with no one to save us from ourselves, hating them, the gone, even .Banville threads a complex pattern between the gratuitous dramas of memory, past traumas and an intolerable present which engages in eternal conflict with the enduring intensity of the natural world which, with all its ruthless beauty and nonchalance, mocks at our human insignificance And it is precisely when we are devastated by this insurmountable, catastrophic truth that Banville s crafted poetry starts delivering rhythmic tides of controlled pleasure, dropping pearls of beauty, easing the sting of the meaningless words, holding us together, creating a new pregnant life full of wonder and possibilities.I m aware Banville s style might not appeal to every reader, he doesn t rush, he digresses languidly, teasing and eroding your perceptions relentlessly, his mortally serious ways can seem overdone, but I responded to his uncompromising tone, so graceful and precise Poetry in prose Memories may say nothing but they are never silent, pulling and pushing, futilely turned the wrong way, urging us to be drowned and get lost in them, never to return But somehow these little vessels of sadness, these sinking boats we all are, sailing in muffled silence in this hollow sea of impotence and disregard, manage to catch the smooth rolling swells coming from the deeps only to be lifted and carried away towards the shore as if nothing had happened And as our feet touch the ground we realize that our lives have been, in spite of everything, in spite of ourselves, acts of pure love and only for that, they are worth livingand it was as if I were walking into the sea. The Depths of VocabularyJohn Banville loves words just as they are Words like losel, and finical, gleet, scurf, bosky, cinerial, and merd that will really screw up your spell checker It s part of his masterful charm Add his ability to put these words together in velvet sentences, and combine sentences into exquisite narrative, and voila a writer worth his saltas it were, especially with a title like The Sea Inspired by Henry James Very possibly, particularly by The Turn of the Screw and its permanent mystery Nonetheless, uniquely and unmistakeably Banville. Night, and everything so quiet, as if there were no one, not even myself I cannot hear the sea, which on other nights rumbles and growls, now near grating, now afar and faint I do not want to be alone like this Why have you not come back to haunt me Is the least I would have expected of you Why this silence day after day, night after interminable night It is like a fog, this silence of yours What is John Banville s The Sea all about An infinite weave of contemplative and melancholic feelings of a man lost in his sufferings It is about the impossibility of hope the harshness of loss, and the inescapability of pain A convulsive probe into the past, it revisits times gone by that sets it all adrift Constant guilt for what could not have been changed, accounts of resentments, and the restraints and combat of a man to the intimacy of grief All coupled with constant images and metaphors of a turbulent and immeasurable sea There were things of course the boy that I was then would not have allowed himself to foresee, in his eager anticipations, even if he had been able Loss, grief, the sombre days and the sleepless nights, such surprises tend not to register on the prophetic imagination s photographic plate The story is narrated by Max, a retired art critic, who is mourning the death of his wife, Anna, and now living at The Cedars, which he remembers from his youth Whether recalling those days when he lived with his family inmodest surroundings and gawked eagerly into the house and its inhabitants, the Graces John Banville impresses with his beautiful, splendid and brittle writing His protagonist Max is governed by his whims, which twists and weakens before its sorrowfulness, his mourning, the sutures of old dislikes, and the trace of his fossilized tears These days I must take the world in small and carefully measured doses, it is a sort of homeopathic cure I am undergoing, though I am not certain what this cure is meant to mend Perhaps I am learning to live among the living again Practising, I mean But no, that is not it Being here is just a way of not being anywhere Among meditations on losses and presages of death, we encounter once in a while a specter of happiness, might we dream of hope Possibly this is too far to imagine, but even Banville protagonist s wanderings remember to point to the existence of peace if not happiness Like the sun that steals a chance to come through on an overcast and dark sky, with its rays reflecting alluringly in the tumultuous sea How does Banville present us with a scene not so wistful, how can he, amidst so such melancholy, bring up moments of joy His only escape is through remembrances of a long gone past a past of friendship, a past with wisps of seduction, forgetting the losses that followed for mere moments Those moments invariably invoke the sea with its vastness and its depths, along with its mysterious personal allure Still that day of license and illicit invitation was not done As Mrs Grace, stretched there on the grassy bank, continued softly snoring, a torpor descended on the rest of us in that little dell, the invisible net of lassitude that falls over a company when one of its number detaches and drops away into sleep Suddenly she was the centre of the scene, the vanishing point upon which everything converged, suddenly it was she for whom these patterns and these shades had been arranged with such meticulous artlessness that white cloth on the polished glass, the leaning, blue green tree, the frilled ferns, even those little clouds, trying to seem not to move, high up in the limitless marine sky All is not darkness the memories bring back those long ago days of lightness Thus, there are furtive moments of carefree recollection that appear to console our protagonist Happiness was different in childhood It was so much a matter of simply of accumulation, of taking things new experiences, new emotions and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvelously finished pavilion of the self And incredulity, that too was a large part of being happy, I mean that euphoric inability fully to believe one s simple luck I have always loved the sea with its ever changing tides and undercurrents, and its massive waters always invoked sentiments of peace or turbulence in me never of melancholy and sorrow Thus, Banville through Max seems to view a different sea from mine No matter what sea we contemplate a lush tropical one or Max s frigid and bleak one, the differences persist Could aaustere sea invoke the sentiments Max tells us in his narrative No, I do not think it comes from the sea but from inside And it seems frozen by the winds of gloom in Max s heart However, there are rare moments of peace and hopefulness, even if short lived And ultimately he returns to his sufferings and the loss that so ravaged him We forgave each other for all that we were not Whatcould be expected, in this vale of torments and tears Do not look so worried, Anna said, I hated you, too, a little, we were human beings, after all Yet for all that, I cannot rid myself of the convictions that we missed something, that I missed something, only I do not know what it might have been Thus, Anna tried to liberate Max of his guilt Yes, we are allowed to hate those we love and if we can hate is solely because we loved That s how human beings can form relationships, by being truthful to themselves However, Max was not ready to give up on his guilt that still hangs on together with his memories of Anna.Still drowning in his grief, from his hard and recent loss, we read and feel for its inevitability, like the tide that stops for nothing, and Max unavoidable memories hurt and haunt him His memories only escalate his sentiment of gloom and remorse I have to confess that this was one of the scattered moments where I readthan the beauty of Banville well chosen words his suffering with the loss of his wife touched me deeply I sat in the bay of the window and watched the day darken Bare trees across the road were black against the last flares of the setting sun, and the rooks in a raucous flock were wheeling and dropping, settling disputatiously for the night I was thinking of Anna I make myself think of her, I do it as an exercise She is lodged in me like a knife and yet I am beginning to forget her However, Max not ready yet to let Anna go, calls for her in his immense sadness, like a sinking boat that is missing the saving grace of a gracious wind that picks up on the waves of forgetfulness, which would push him to a safe shore and acceptance I said something, some fatuous thing such as Don t go, or Stay with me, but again she gave that impatient shake of the head, and tugged my hand to draw me closer They are stopping the clocks, she said, the merest threat of a whisper, conspiratorial I have stopped time And she nodded, a solemn, knowing nod, and smiled, too, I would swear it was a smile Alas, all Banville s lyrical and bittersweet chronicle left me with plenty of beautiful quotes Yes, I was carried away by his lyricism and kept going between quotes Banville mostly gives us poetry in prose However, I felt Banville s eloquence and his gorgeously passionate way of phrasing what he wants to say somehow impacts adversely on his storytelling ability I recently read Virginia Woolf s The Waves, and there her lyricism worked because that was what she aimed to do There was no storyline, no plot and it worked perfectly No so here, I felt Banville s characters suffered from the weight of his lyrical prose I ended loving it for its poetry but not loving it so much for his characters Yes, Max is not the kind of protagonist I appreciate Yes, the themes are explored to the fullest Yes, Banville tells his tale alluringly, with a delightful language that few writers can glue together Yes, I loved the theme, it s profound reflections on love, loss, regret, and the role memory plays in the grieving process His insights are certainly great literature But it left me wanting , wanting a protagonist I could fully comprehend and grasp Perhaps it is not so terrible to be left wanting , hence do not judge me harshly for my dissatisfaction Nevertheless, highly recommended. *E-pub ⇨ The Sea ☞ In This Luminous New Novel About Love, Loss, And The Unpredictable Power Of Memory, John Banville Introduces Us To Max Morden, A Middle Aged Irishman Who Has Gone Back To The Seaside Town Where He Spent His Summer Holidays As A Child To Cope With The Recent Loss Of His Wife It Is Also A Return To The Place Where He Met The Graces, The Well Heeled Family With Whom He Experienced The Strange Suddenness Of Both Love And Death For The First Time What Max Comes To Understand About The Past, And About Its Indelible Effects On Him, Is At The Center Of This Elegiac, Gorgeously Written Novel Among The Finest We Have Had From This Masterful Writer I just have to say it it s all semiunremarkable until page 170 or so this book, like many in the modern canon, such as Amsterdam, another Booker winner, is short in that bittersweet sort of way perilously malingering, at 200 pages, between being almost a novel, but not quite a novella the plot ebbs and flows ha through an ocean of profound memories The narrator chronicles, basically, two points in his life which left him devastated His first ever, and his latest, all revolve around the sea, its massiveness its depths, its personal mysterious allure He meditates on the last one of these presages of death, that looming event itself, so final and sad and the end really is like dynamite I can only compare it to Everyman by Philip Roth, even The Death of Ivan Ilych in its management of such a theme which is, at first glimpse, frankly, droll overdone The poetry which had been glimpsed at before creates a lasting impact on the reader at its speedy conclusion The tedium and clich d tactics become very much negligible once the ending gets there Here is a paramount example of how the ending makes the book. A gentleman reflects on his life, especially his youth, after the death of his wife He returns to the formative landscape of his childhood, a modest seaside town and inn in Ireland It is also the site of the formative tragedy of his childhood In effect, we have a coming of age novel as reflected upon in later life Instead of the psychological depth of Danish author Jens Grondahl reflecting on his marriage in Silence in October, we get lush descriptions and beautiful turns of phrase Thoughtful, slow reading a treasure with many lines to savor The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005 and was picked as Novel of the Year by the Irish Book Awards in 2006.