The Sea

The Sea

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Following the death of his wife, Max Morden retreats to the seaside town of his childhood summers, where his own life becomes inextricably entwined with the members of the vacationing Grace family.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2006, c2005.
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed.
ISBN: 9781400097029
Branch Call Number: FIC BANVILLE, JOHN
Characteristics: 195 p. ; 21 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 06, 2019

Beautifully written account of nostalgia, and memories.

Jul 29, 2018

An interesting author who is able to weave the memories of child and adult seamlessly,incorporating beautiful sentences with stunning descriptions. The "story" is alright and not is the method of constructing the book that is the marvel.

Jun 28, 2018

Not an easy read. I almost gave up when I found myself disagreeing with something one of the characters did. Weird.

But, I persisted, and it was worth it. Not that it has a great ending, per se, but I finally got into it. This is classic writing of the old style. Truly literature. As one of the other comments said: you have to be in the mood.

Moving as well, Banville is eventually very successful in depicting loss, and how we look back on our lives as we age. Maybe it's better for older (over 60) people.

As to winning the Booker, you have to remember who probably makes these decisions.

Jan 26, 2018

Self-conscious & pretentious. Maybe I will finish it another time when I am feeling more generous.

Feb 28, 2017

This man Banville is damn good at what he does, even though the result is not always pleasing. He has what I perceive as the Irish sickness -- indulgence in gloom and an obsession with death. It has almost caused me to give up on Irish writers altogether. Banville's protagonist (aptly named Max Morden) subjects himself to starkly merciless self-examination; he's a neurotic, morose hypochondriac. That he has been emotionally stricken by the death of his wife I can certainly accept; but that he has never recovered from a childhood infatuation and related grief of some fifty years previous is taking things too far. There are many pages of self-flagellation and navel gazing where nothing much really happens.
On a more positive note, Banville's facility with prose is admirable. His extravagance of language is at times spectacular. Like the Cheshire Cat, he takes great liberties with the conventional meaning of words, even creating his own variations as he sees fit. I'm sure no one else has ever included all of catafalque, crepitant, apotheosis, clamacteric, histrionic euphoria, Valhalla petulance and posthumous transfiguration in one single page! Are some of those even words? Anyway, his prose is also livened up with a number of oddities: For example, he talks to himself as a writer, inserting little asides, critiquing his own sentences. His protagonist (Banville himself, surely?) is hypersensitive to smells, going on at great length about their significance. And when he chooses to do so, he can be hilariously droll.
To sum up: Not very much of a story, a singularly unattractive protagonist but fabulous language almost redeems it. A strong 3 1/2 stars.

Feb 22, 2017

Winner of the Man Booker prize in 2005 this is an elegiac beautifully written piece of prose that lack even the pretence of a plot and very thinly drawn characters. Banville, who prides himself on his exquisitely written sentences, on the musical cadence of his prose hit a home run on those aspects This protagonist is among the least objectionable of his normal lineup but can't we get a Banville book written in that sublime prose that has a nice plot and a protagonist that we don't hate?

Dec 11, 2015

Wintry. It's not just the beautiful language that redeems the gloom, but this character, in his wonderful sublime stream of consciousness, sometimes becomes humanly trivial.

Jun 18, 2015


Oct 24, 2014

I lost total interest in this this one. Although beautifully written, I kept gravitating away from it until I simply dropped it back into the library return box - not even halfway through.

Nov 24, 2013

It may have won the Booker, but I gave up 1/2 way through. Way too precious for my taste, although there are some wonderful bits.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jun 28, 2018

bktm2586 thinks this title is suitable for 60 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at SMPL

To Top