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“The style—the voice—is a phenomenon, a wonder in itself. . . . Shroud is full of . . . secrets that change everything once you notice them. . . . Dazzling.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Glittering, far-reaching intelligence. . . . Sentences, paragraphs, pages that by their exact and passionate beauty transport the reader and make the world new.” –The Boston Globe
“A seductive narrator. . .a writer of fastidious skill who captures the most delicate registers of feeling and mood with an often sublime precision.” – Newsday
“A virtuoso tale of grief, loss and salvation. His dazzling lyricism and extraordinary language resonate long after the story ends. . . . This dreamlike novel . . . glows with the subdued brilliance of its author’s searching intellect. The long stretches of breathtaking prose, addictive and illuminating, are what make this Shroud just shy of miraculous.” —The Oregonian
“A ravishingly beautiful writer. His prose is clean and unfussy. . .and his images and metaphors have a visionary keenness that’s almost violent; they strike the readers like blows.”–Salon
“Shroud shocks its reader. . . . It throbs along powerfully . . . until out of nowhere a beautiful sentence stops things cold. Banville’s prose is thick and sumptuous.”–Entertainment Weekly
“Can only be called a page-turner. . .what propels the reader’s fascination and admiration is the brilliance of its art.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Banville. . . [has] an allusive, alliterative prose style; a sly sense of humor; a meditative intelligence drawn to art and artifice; an appraiser’s eye that seeks out the odd corners of beauty in this world but reserves a disdainful glance for its conventions. . . . An unlikely and affecting story of redemption.”–Houston Chronicle
“A work of fiction with . . imaginative ambition and integrity.”–The Washington Post Book World
“John Banville is a master of narrative, language and imagery. His fictional characters . . . have daunting intellectual and individual breadth. . . . The author’s gift is the taut examination of characters as they hold their own disquieted review of themselves. His prose is eloquent and his language reverberates with clarity.” —Rocky Mountain News
“As much potboiler mystery as it is intellectual tour de force. . . . As a meditation on the nature of personal identity, indeed on the meaning of truth, Shroud is a masterpiece.”–Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram
“Every sentence of Shroud is thrilling with Nabokovian wit, sorrow and beauty.”–The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
“Difficult to resist. . .Banville has always been a sumptuous writer, but his love for the Jamesian sentence seems especially well-suited here.”–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Almost every one of his gorgeous sentences has the brooding, propulsive power of the heavens above his narrator’s lost Belgian home. . . . Banville weaves a haunting, lingering tale of a soul forever severed from its own identity.”–Seattle Weekly
“Hallucinatory. . .His skill at not losing us along the way is simply extraordinary. So is his prose, which, like Shroud, is hypnotic.”–Delaware News-Journal
“Narratively performs the very theory it allegorizes. The story engages quite suspensefully. His diction and command of language . . . are nothing short of genius.”–The Mobile Register
“Part mystery, part epistemological jigsaw puzzle, part black-comedy. . . We’re treated, on nearly every page, to the pleasure of a formidable writer’s fresh take on age-old themes: the nature of self and the limits of love.”–LA Weekly
“I am grateful for what I discovered [in Shroud], grateful for watching a deeply moral writer at the top of his game, grateful for having known a literary character far more intimately that most ‘real people’ I have met. It will. . .amaze you.”–David Prather, Huntsville Times
“In this mesmerising novel, taut with intelligence, compassion and wit, Banville has once again worked his extravagant alchemy, transmuting this prose of the familiar world into the poetry of revelation and renewal.” —Independent on Sunday
“In beautiful, lucid prose, John Banville describes a tragedy so strongly rooted in history and character that, like all real tragedies, it could not happen otherwise.” —The Times (London)
“Morally gripping as it is, Shroud is still a Banville performance, playing brilliantly with language in the gap between actuality and perception . . . Shroud will not easily be surpassed for combination of wit, moral complexity and compassion. It is hard to see what more a novel could do.” —The Irish Times
Posted May 13, 2003
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.
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Posted January 15, 2013
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.
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Posted May 20, 2013
Posted May 20, 2013
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)
Posted October 7, 2002
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2009
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Posted July 4, 2013
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