Saturday, April 21, 2007

Chargers or Horses?

France's Le Nouvel Observateur is not too impressed by Yawn Banville's Booker Prize-winning The Sea, just translated into French. Here's what they say:

'John Banville writes well - there's no doubt about that. He writes well, and that impresses, and wins awards... Stendhal could never understand why certain writers prefer 'charger' to 'horse'. Banville is no Stendhalian. He prefers 'charger' to 'horse'. What's more he judiciously saddles the charger with an adjective - it is a 'wild' charger - the better to spur the old nag on.

'Banville is Irish. You'd hardly think it, given the general speed of his compatriots' speech. A sort of urgency to tell all. A narrative euphoria that sends the writer off on a merry gallop. That said, one shouldn't weigh oneself down with superfluous words. With John Banville, there are too many words, an excess of rhetoric.'

And it finishes with:

'Ah! If only Banville were to give up his chargers to the benefit of horses, how great he might be!'

I have not yet read The Sea (and apologies to those that have for the translation into English of a review of a translation of the book, thereby occasioning some slippage in interpretation) but this review sums up quite well my views of all the books of Banville's that I have read. He writes well but his books are dull as hell. The French seem to have it right on this one.


Dario Sanchez said...

Thanks, you've saved me wasting money on Banville's books and boring myself to sleep.

Incidentally, a well-read friend of mine said they were as boring as Ulysses.

I have read that. Nothing could be as boring as Joyce!

seanachie said...

Dario, you have slagged off, in the space of 24 hours, two things very close to my heart - Celtic FC and Ulysses. I don't think we can go on like this. Think of the children; for God's sake, think of the children!

Banville though, life's too short, and there are far too many obscure Serbian novelists that one should read ahead of him.

Dario Sanchez said...

Hey, if you like Celtic, that's cool, I have no problem, and I understand that there are some Celtic fans who don't sing rebel songs while in Ibrox. Hell, Shelbourne fans are no angels either.

My point on Ulysses is borne out of an elective module that I'm doing in UCD - the lecturer has wrote five books on Ulysses alone - and so I'm sure you can agree it's like getting a high-minded lecture on Harry Potter books.

And hey, feel free to rip the piss out of anything I do - I don't take myself too seriously.