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Their affair has been going on for nine months when Marcus realizes Polly has a lover and comes to Oliver for comfort and advice. Panicked by the certainty that his friend will soon figure out he is the guilty man, Oliver flees — not to the mansion he bought to proclaim his success when he moved back to his unnamed hometown probably in Ireland , but to the house where he grew up adoring his beautiful, indulgent mother and contemptuous of his cautious, fearful father. Banville unpacks Oliver's past with his usual mastery, mimicking the pathways of memory by darting among discontinuous moments, but gradually weaving them together to delineate the fundamental patterns of one man's existence.

The Blue Guitar by John Banville, review: 'rewards patience'

The book's title and epigraph quote Wallace Stevens's famous poem, "The Man with the Blue Guitar," which ponders art's relationship with "things as they are," and Oliver spends a lot of time imparting his anguish about the disconnect he finds in that relationship. Thrumming underneath this rather abstract discourse, however, is the more primal story of Oliver's emotional disconnection. He feels perpetually a stranger among people who know him better than he knows himself.

The deaths of his parents when he was a teenager and an arm's-length marriage, further chilled by the loss of a 3-year-old daughter, have reinforced his sense of isolation and alienation.


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The weird weather embodies his unsettled state; "tempests on the surface of the sun" echo the tempests in Oliver's head, and it always seems to be raining. While Oliver's encounters with a gaggle of scornful women are making it painfully clear just how little he understands about his own life, the vaguely ominous climate turns downright apocalyptic.

The Man with the Blue Guitar - Wikipedia

Page In John N. The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens. Cambridge University Press.


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American Literature. Duke University Press.

Book Summary

New Republic. Retrieved 4 November Categories : poems Modernist poems Poetry by Wallace Stevens.

The Blue Guitar

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John Lodge & Justin Hayward - "Blue Guitar"