Music in John Banville’s Ghosts and The Sea
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
John Banville has repeatedly stressed the necessity for novelists to be poets. He has also emphasized his interest in the sound of his sentences over characters and plot. This dissertation examines ways in which Banville’s narrative fiction is musical. Specifically, it discusses Ghosts (1993) and The Sea (2005) as they facilitate the discussion of how music is adapted and developed in Banville’s works. This paper first looks at the intersections between music and literature, including problems that arise when music is adopted in literature, and formulas for reading the musicality of prose. It then uses these theories to read Ghosts and The Sea. It demonstrates the way these novels adopt silence through ekphrasis and narrative pauses respectively, and how silence interacts with the novel’s sound to produce a musical narrative. It also establishes how the use of music in Ghosts is further developed in The Sea. Finally, it concludes by drawing attention to how the novels sound and resound, fulfilling Banville’s aspiration towards poetry.