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Ageing John Banville: from Einstein to Bergson

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journal contribution
posted on 17.01.2022, 11:24 authored by Nick Taylor-CollinsNick Taylor-Collins
There is a clear engagement with theories of time across Banville’s oeuvre, from his earliest published work through to the twenty-first-century novels. I explore how, in their engagement with age and ageing, Banville’s characters adopt and interrogate Albert Einstein’s and Henri Bergson’s competing ideas of the present and the passage of time, sliding from favouring the former to prioritising the latter. Martin Heidegger’s conception of Dasein, a Being-toward-death, allows me to explore how Banville’s characters evoke either Einstein’s spacetime and series of nows, or Bergson’s psychologised Duration (Durée). This is borne out in Gabriel Godkin’s subverted and anti-atavistic narrative in 'Birchwood' (1973), the battle over authenticity between Copernicus and Rheticus in 'Doctor Copernicus' (1976), and how Hermes controls the mortals’ time and tries his best to age in 'The Infinities' (2009). I conclude that Banville’s characters’ evolving preference for Bergsonian over Einsteinian tropes indicates an acceptance and happy engagement with the ageing process.

History

Published in

Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies

Publisher

Associação Brasileira de Estudos Irlandeses

Acceptance Date

01/07/2020

Publication Date

01/09/2020

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Citation

aylor-Collins, Nicholas, ‘Ageing John Banville: from Einstein to Bergson’, Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies (ABEI), 22.1 (2020), 159–72 doi: https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v22i1

Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy

Cardiff Met Authors

Nick Taylor-Collins

Copyright Holder

© The Authors

Language

en