Nothing Is Invisible

……….Cultural Kaleidoscopy………..

The Infinities by John Banville

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Infinities (2009)(Novel) By John Banville (The Book of Evidence (1989), The Sea (2005, winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction), and others))  John Banville‘s latest novel, The Infinities, the story of a comatose theoretical mathematician/physicist and his dysfunctional family (alcoholic second wife, fearful and weak son, self-abusing daughter), a daughter-in-law, two visitors (with the silly names of Roddy Wagstaff and Benny Grace), and the gods Hermes (by and large the narrator) and his father, Zeus, is set in a relatively alternative reality, much as our own with the notable exceptions of salt-water being used to run cars, cold fusion energy and the scientific acceptance of infinite universes (hence the novel’s title).  In fact, The Infinities is a look at the mix of the mortal and the divine, the finite and the infinite in the world, loosely based on the myth of Amphitryon (whose wife, Alcmene, who was seduced by Zeus in the guise of her husband).  Though there are many, perhaps excessive, yet wonderful descriptions in The Infinities, one may ask if basing the novel on the myth justifies the overly precious narrative device of the gods’ presence: an excessively witty and somewhat irreverent narration which in the end is so heavy-handed and distracting. The Times, nevertheless, found it “dark, funny and delightful”, according to the book jacket. (PR)

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