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The Comic Uncanny in John Banville’s Eclipse

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Publication details

JournalIrish University Review
DateSubmitted - 15 Jun 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - 8 Nov 2019
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)322-339
Original languageEnglish


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.

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    Research areas

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

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