There is loveliness here, of course, but a loveliness that is excitingly tainted. In his book Magica Praha, that ecstatic paean of amor urbi, Angelo Maria Ripellino figures the city as a temptress, a wanton, a shee devil. She slyly works her way into the soul with spells and enigmas to which she alone holds the key. The latter novel about the pioneering German astronomer Johann Kepler is a literary tour de force, which vividly recreates the intellectual and social milieu of Rudolphine Prague where Kepler made his most famous discoveries. Since then he has been back to the Czech Republic on a number of occasions, and these journeys provided him with much of the material for his Prague Pictures.
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He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. Despite having intended to be a painter and an architect, he did not attend university. I should have gone. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. But I wanted to get away from my family. I wanted to be free. He availed of these rates to travel in Greece and Italy. On his return to Ireland, he became a sub-editor at The Irish Press , rising eventually to the position of chief sub-editor.
He was appointed literary editor in The Irish Times, too, endured financial troubles, and Banville was offered the choice of taking a redundancy package or working as a features department sub-editor.
He left. Banville has two sons from a marriage to the American textile artist Janet Dunham, whom he met in the west of her country during the s. He has disowned his first published novel, Nightspawn, describing it as "crotchety, posturing, absurdly pretentious". Nobody was obliged to buy my books". Banville has written three trilogies: the first, The Revolutions Trilogy, focused on great men of science and consisted of Doctor Copernicus , Kepler , and The Newton Letter He wrote fondly of John McGahern , who lost his job amid condemnation by his workplace and the Catholic Church for becoming intimately involved with a foreign woman.
John Banville is dead". However, Banville was aware that McGahern had been unwell and, having performed the necessary checks to ensure that he was still alive, concluded that it was McGahern who was dead instead.
And it was. He writes his Benjamin Black crime fiction much more quickly than he composes his literary novels. He considers crime writing, in his own words, as being "cheap fiction". He replied that nobody would translate them and that he was often referred to pejoratively as a West Brit.
I loathe them. He writes from 9 a. He then dines on bread, cheese and tea and resumes working until 6 p. He advises against young writers approaching him for advice: "I remind them as gently as I can, that they are on their own, with no help available anywhere". See media help. Then I read an interview in which he admitted he was tone deaf.
Yeats and Henry James as the two real influences on his work. Ditto Camus". To me they are just people". To be hurt oneself is bad enough, but hurting other people is unforgivable Literally unforgivable.
One has to, as I say, be responsible Failure in art, or failure in making a living, or a success — none of them compares, everything pales beside hurting other people, because, you know, we are here for such a short time and basic life itself is so hard one has a duty to try to be decent to other people".
Decades later Banville still regarded Ben as "a lost friend, and every few months he ambles into one of my dreams, snuffling and sighing and obviously wondering why there are no more walks. This may sound sentimental, but it does not feel that way". Banville personally telephoned Liveline to call the practice "absolutely disgraceful" and told the tale of how he had come upon some women protesting:  "I was passing by the front gates of Trinity one day and there was a group of mostly young women protesting and I was interested.
I went over and I spoke to them and they said that vivisection experiments were being carried out in the college.
This was a great surprise to me and a great shock, so I wrote a letter of protest to The Irish Times. Some lady professor from Trinity wrote back essentially saying Mr. Banville should stick to his books and leave us scientists to our valuable work.
After that my late friend, [Lord Gahan,? Why involve animals? It seemed to me an unanswerable question It would be much better to have a human being to experiment on than an animal. Why bring animals in? We certainly should not be inflicting needless pain on innocent animals Pay them money. If I had done any good I would have kept it on.
I mean, I got John Coetzee , you know, the famous novelist, J. Coetzee, I got him to write a letter to The Irish Times. I asked a lot of people. It was just on this one occasion it seemed that something could be done. The only effect it has had, as far as I can see, is that the following year there were about twice as many experiments. So much for the intellectual raising his voice in protest".
He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. Despite having intended to be a painter and an architect, he did not attend university. I should have gone. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. But I wanted to get away from my family.
Prague Pictures: A Portrait of the City
All cities, to some extent, live mostly in our heads, but the Czech capital often seems entirely an imaginative construct. In his novel, Kepler of , Banville alchemised brilliantly the city of the seventeenth century out of scraps and fragments of research. For that book, he mentally wandered the ill-lit alleyways that were the labyrinthine dystopia of Rudolf II, the enlightened, insane Holy Roman Emperor who shut himself in the adamantine castle, Hradcany, that broods above the River Vltava, and surrounded himself with artists and artisans, chancers and necromancers. It was not until a couple of years later that Banville could inspect the veracity of his creation at first hand. At that time, Prague was still greatcoated in the Cold War. The author visited in winter and found that, despite the frigid greyness of Soviet-backed authority, the city of his imagining still could present itself glittering and intact. On his first morning, he walked out from his concrete-and-glass hotel, with its lobby full of prostitutes and black-marketeers, and stood in the frosted light on Charles Bridge and saw the exact mirror of a place he had once closed his eyes to see at his typewriter.