Ralf Haekel on John Banville, The Sea
Ralf Haekel (Leipzig University)
The Sea is John Banville’s best-known and most popular book. Its key themes are, like in many of Banville’s other works, the topics of loss and identity. Since the publication of his first work of fiction in 1970, Banville has always tested the boundaries of contemporary fiction, developing an idiosyncratic and highly reflexive style. The Sea, the novel that won the Booker Prize in 2005, is a book on memory, life, and death or, to be more precise, on dying. It is one of the great Irish novels of the 21st century because it reflects the tradition of Irish fiction and at the same time questions the very possibility of storytelling in the face of death. In my lecture, I focus particularly on Banville’s use of photography in the novel. The Sea refers to photography thematically as well as structurally, and the photographic image operates as memento mori, as a sign of mortality, and, through the technique of ekphrasis, as a narrative medium of memory.
University of Wuppertal, 22 April 2021, 14-16
University of Tübingen, 5 May 2021, 10-12