(Irish, 1945– )
Banville, who is literary editor of the Irish Times, writes fiction in which sensuous prose is infused with a deeply serious but playful imagination and a bracing intellect. His early novels, including Doctor Copernicus (1976) and Kepler (1981), had as central characters key figures in the history of European ideas. He found a wider audience with The Book of Evidence (1989), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and which presents the narrative of a cultivated drifter, Freddie Montgomery, who has committed the apparently motiveless abduction and murder of a young woman. Aspects of Freddie's guilt are explored further in Ghosts (1993) and Athena (1995). The Untouchable (1997), loosely modelled on the career of the spy Sir Anthony Blunt, is a highly readable portrait of the world of the Cambridge spies and of a fastidious, erudite, emotionally contained man.
Vladimir Nabokov, John McGahern, Peter Ackroyd. See IRELAND NC