The Comic Uncanny in John Banville’s Eclipse

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Humour is a key facet of John Banville's aesthetic but is currently an under-researched aspect of his oeuvre. Few critics devote sustained attention to the role of comedy in Banville's prose; most pay lip service to humour before moving on to more serious business. By contrast, the Banvillean uncanny is often examined as a defining feature of the writer's later work. This article proposes that Banville's novels demonstrate the conjunction of the comic and the uncanny, exposing how they work as interrelated, mutually productive modes. This is especially true when theatricality is also in play, as in Eclipse (2000). Sharing techniques, effects, and concerns--doubling and double-takes, repetition, insinuation and implication, and defamiliarization--the comic and the uncanny combine to create a profoundly unsettling aesthetic. My approach thus emphasizes comedy's potential as a conceptual tool with which to approach the many strange and humorous dissonances of contemporary fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-339
JournalIrish University Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2019

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  • John Banville
  • Comedy
  • Humour Studies
  • Uncanny
  • Irish Literature
  • Contemporary Novel
  • Eclipse
  • Shroud
  • Irish novels
  • Irish Studies

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