Valentine Cunningham, 22 April 1993
‘The philosopher asks: Can the style of an evil man have any unity?’ It’s a wonderfully sharp question, marrying morals to aesthetics in a challenging new-old fashion. And it’s a question, as ever with John Banville, within other questions. Who, for instance, you’re made to wonder at this point in Ghosts, is actually asking? Some anonymous narrator? The author? The novel’s own enigmatic ‘evil man’, the one who does so much of its telling and, it turns out, has a lot morally to answer for? You never know. It’s hard to tell; it’s always hard to tell with this author. It’s at the centre of his power that his mood, his people’s mood, the mood of his writing, is inte0rogative. And in best Modernist fashion, these interrogations don’t have straight answers.