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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Newton Letter (1982) by John Banville


Book Review
The Newton Letter (1982)
by John Banville

   The Newton Letter is about 80 pages long. Thus, the reader is in novella territory.  The title refers to a (fictional) letter that Sir Issac Newton wrote late in life to John Locke, supposedly berating Locke for imagined betrayals.  The narrator is supposedly writing a biography of Newton, and has retreated to rural Ireland to focus on his writing.  Instead he becomes romantically involved with a young single mother, and the wife of the man renting him his retreat (also the Uncle of the single mother, and perhaps the father of her young child, or perhaps not.)

  The themes revolve around Newton's late in life break down and the similarities and differences between that portion of Newton's life, and the current situation with his biographer.   Given the slight length and equally slight story, I was puzzled that The Newton Letter was included at all on the 1001 Books list, and not surprised to find that John Banville had FOUR of his FIVE titles removed from the list between 2006 and 2008.  That is the greatest diminution in representation between the first and second edition of any represented author.

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