I haven’t, by any means, read all of the secondary literature on Banville’s Book of Evidence, but the reviews and occasional critical pieces I have looked at have not, I think, completely addressed the significance of Haslet’s penultimate remarks. Canon-Roger’s article in European Journal of English Studies was especially good on the painting, I thought.
For instance, before the glass screens were put up, wives and girlfriends used to hide in their mouths little plastic bags of heroin, which were passed across during lingering kisses, swallowed, and sicked-up later, in the latrines. I was greatly taken with the idea, it affected me deeply. Such need, such passion, such charity and daring—when have I ever known the like? (214)
This is the mythology of modern death
And these, in their mufflings, monsters of elegy,
Of their own marvel made, of pity made…
Having not yet dipped into Ghosts and Athena, I’m going to withhold my idea about Freddie’s true motive, which I guess to be political