News Column

Turning Banville's books into movies

June 11, 2013


Sir, - It is always a delight to read anything by John Banville, but I am devastated to think that while he considers a film set does have "something of the airless intensity of the shrine of a sibyl", he feels his novels when finished "give off not the breath of life but the whiff of decomposition" (Arts & Books, June 8th).

While enjoying the silver screen, I feel it in no way compares with the intensity of excitement and anticipation I feel holding a new Banville novel.

Can any film script reproduce the extraordinary use of words and language, the sheer beauty of composition that makes the reader go back again and again, rereading pages in his novels - something that lasts not for the moment, for a moment.

Who else, only Banvillle, could describe a smell by a colour as he did when describing the odour emitting from an old-fashioned hardware store as a "brown smell"? Truly he is one of the greats of Irish literature. - Yours, etc,



Kells, Co Meath.

Sir, - I presume it wasn't John Banville's intention to sound condescending when he wrote "Cinema is the poetry of the people" (Arts & Books, June 8th). But condescending is how it reads. Cinema is the cinema of the people and poetry is the poetry of the people - to assume otherwise is to assume that poetry is somehow the preserve of an elite.

In 40 years of writing, broadcasting and teaching, I've learned many things, one being that poetry is read by the people - some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time and always with the ability to draw wonder and joy and sadness and beauty from the lines - just as the writers sensed they would. - Yours, etc,


Royal Oak,

Muine Bheag, Co Carlow.

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