An early classic from the Man Booker-prize winning author of The Sea .
I am therefore I think . So starts John Banville’s 1973 novel Birchwood , a novel that centers around Gabriel Godkin and his return to his dilapidated family estate. After years away, Gabriel returns to a house filled with memories and despair. Delving deep into family secrets—a cold father, a tortured mother, an insane grandmother—Gabriel also recalls his first encounters with love and loss. At once a novel of a family, of isolation, and of a blighted Ireland, Birchwood is a remarkable and complex story about the end of innocence for one boy and his country, told in the brilliantly styled prose of one of our most essential writers.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Birchwood|
|Release Date: 06-03-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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I AM, therefore I think. That seems inescapable. In this lawless house I spend the nights poring over my memories, fingering them, like an impotent casanova his old love letters, sniffing the dusty scent of violets. Some of these memories are in a language which I do not understand, the ones that could be headed, the beginning of the old life. They tell the story which I intend to copy here, all of it, if not its meaning, the story of the fall and rise of Birchwood, and of the part Sabatier and I played in the last battle.
The name is Godkin, Gabriel. I feel I have already lived for a century and more. This can only be an advantage. Am I mad, starting again, and like this ? I have seen terrible things. It amazes me that I was allowed to survive to tell ofthem. Mad indeed.
And since all thinking is in a sense remembering, what, for instance, did I do in the womb, swimming there in those dim red waters with my past time still all before me ? Intimations survive. Often a sound heard throbbing at dusk from the far side of a hill seems an echo of the wallop of their bellies as they coupled,heedless of their little mistakes already coming between them. This is nothing. In my time I have gone down twice to the same river. When I opened the shutters in the summerhouse by the lake a trembling disc of sunlight settled on the charred circle on the floor where Granny Godkin exploded. They must mean something, these extraordinary moments when the pig finds the truffle embedded in the muck.
I have begun to work on the house. Not that it is in need of repair, no. I swept away the broken glass, dead flowers, the other unnameable things. You would think I expect guests, which is a