Nicholas Delbanco Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Delbanco, Nicholas 1942–

Delbanco is a British-born American author of novels, poems, and short stories. (See also CLC, Vol. 6, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed.)

Delbanco is one of those consistently highly acclaimed writers few readers have heard of, much less read. "Sherbrookes," his eighth novel, is also sure to be critically well received. A wonderful and strange book, written in lyrical yet spare prose, it contains insights few writers can claim…. Delbanco steers clear of grotesque or Gothic overtones; he keeps his story clean and taut. And although his characters and their lives are peculiar, if not unique, they are always credible, and their story is intriguing and compelling. (p. 64)

Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the November 6, 1978, issue of Publishers Weekly, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1978 by Xerox Corporation), November 6, 1978.

Garrett Epps

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Nicholas Delbanco has depicted the] underside of family life in Possession (1977) and now Sherbrookes, the first two volumes of a trilogy about the waning days of a wealthy New England family….

Besides the hovering ghost of Judah, Sherbrookes has many other elements of gothic romance: an ancient mansion, a family curse, an unbreakable will, a mysterious pregnancy, and a moonlight suicide. Certainly, it seems to me that Sherbrookes does not operate like a realistic novel—by means of character, incident, or plot. Many of the characters are blanks; this is particularly true of Ian Sherbrooke, who seems at first almost like an empty cell awaiting the entry of a new...

(The entire section is 467 words.)

Tim Myers

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Delbanco's vision [in Sherbrookes] is fundamentally pessimistic in a time when this view has been criticized as being purely negative and unconstructive, threatening the future of fiction. Yet Delbanco deserves to be read precisely because in confronting his characters with the realities of death and isolation, he gives them compensating acts of love, will and endurance. (p. 41)

Tim Myers, in The New Republic (reprinted by permission of The New Republic; © 1979 by The New Republic, Inc.), January 10, 1979.

(The entire section is 76 words.)