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Shroud

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2003

    A Shroud of Lies

    Axel Vander is, without a doubt, one of the most profoundly evil protagonists in all of literature. Not only is he evil inside, he's outwardly grotesque as well, as though the evil he is cannot be contained and spreads it tentacles outward, contaminating everything and everyone with whom it comes in contact. Axel's past is shrouded, not in mystery, but in lies, so it seems quite fitting that he arranges to meet his nemesis, a young woman named Cass Cleve, in Turin, home of the famous shroud, one of the greatest lies in the history of Christianity. Cass Cleve, (whose name appeared in Banville's previous book, 'Eclipse') is the woman who, for reasons not entirely made clear, decides to confront Axel after accidentally stumbling upon the beginnings of his shroud of lies in Antwerp. She provides the perfect counterpoint to Axel Vander. He's old, she's young. He's evil, she's innocence. He's tough, she's vulnerable. Too vulnerable, we come to learn, and far too damaged. There are several surprising plot twists in 'Shroud' (although this is certainly a character-driven story), twists that would have been unbelievable in the hands of a lesser author. Banville, however, is a master, and no matter how improbable the circumstances, somehow, he makes us accept them as the only way things could have possibly worked out. If you've ever read Banville, you know what impossibly gorgeous prose he writes. While much of 'Shroud's' subject matter is downright disgusting, the book also contains some of the most beautiful passages in all of literature. Banville is a master stylist; his prose is haunting, gorgeous and, most of all, mesmerizing. Although he lets Axel recount his own story for the bulk of the book, he wisely gives some sections over to Cass. Cass' delicate, ephemeral narration, especially when juxaposed against Axel's shocking and brutal one, clearly shows two people who, for very different reasons, are both almost entirely removed from reality. 'Shroud' is a book that abounds in symbolism, perhaps too much so for many readers, however, I just loved it. I think it's very significant that both Axel and Cass never actually see the fabled Shroud of Turin; in the same way, both are ultimately denied the penetration of their own 'shroud of lies' and must face the consequences of a life beyond redemption. For some reason, this poetic, gorgeous and ultimately tragic masterpiece has not found favor with either critics or the public. I think that's really very sad, though inevitable, because Banville writes for the most discriminating of readers, the truly literary elite. This is not a light read nor is it fun. It is mesmerizing, hypnotic and almost unbelievably gorgeous. It's a demanding book, but it's one that will invade both your mind and your soul and remain with you forever.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    Probably the most interesting book (the middle one) in the trilo

    Probably the most interesting book (the middle one) in the trilogy. A weak and psychologically ill young woman and a manipulating man. Hard to read. Must be read in consunction with the other books in the trilogy... Well written and the best in the Triology.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    100%

    Oof. *ish huggled* going back now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Dusk

    Pouts then leaves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    The coolest novel out there about deceit and a need to escape -

    The coolest novel out there about deceit and a need to escape - escape from your self, from the circumstances.

    And as Anonymous said in the May 13, 2003 review, it is impossibly greatly written (although you can't believe anything in it, you just swim along in the lies that self-reveal, self-expose - just read carefully), and you will be invaded by the narrative and you will never forget it.

    I have read it a few times, a library hardcover, and now I am buying a paperback one, because they (at Barnes and Noble) do not have the hardcover available (quel dommage, vraiment!). I want to have it home, to be able to enjoy the text and texture whenever I feel it.

    By the way, it is very popular with the library users in my city (Montreal, Quebec); it is almost always out to some reader - so there are those who love and appreciate this chef-d'oeuvre, a small but discerning gang.

    Marko von Klenze
    (Hrvatija + Bosna i Hercegovina)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2002

    Eclipse of the Daughter

    With his previous novel, Eclipse, this one forms a diptych. It is the story of the death of Cass Cleave told from a different angle- that of her lover and the father of her never to be born child. Using themes from the life and works of Paul De Man it is told told in Banville's usual sumptuous self conscious ornate prose. It is all interior. It reminds the reader of Beckett and Nabokov and if you like that kind of thing this is your man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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