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First of all, Praise should be to Almighty Allah for all the strength,
patience and perseverance He bestowed upon me, which enabled me to
complete the present study. Thanks to Him as is due.
I would like to express my deepest thanks and sincere gratitude to my
supervisor, Asst. Prof. Raad Kareem Abd-Aun (PhD) for his kindness,
interest, patience, invaluable instructions and commitment without which the
study would have remained incomplete.
My deep gratitude goes to my teachers Prof. Qasim Selman Sarhan
(PhD), and to Asst. Prof. Sahar Abdul-Ameer Haraj for their valuable
support and encouragement.
This thesis deals with intertextuality in Ian McEwan's selected novels. The aim
of this study is to show how McEwan uses intertextuality and how this technique is
used to develop the themes, characters, and narration of his novels. This study tries
also to label the different kinds of intertextuality that McEwan uses.
This thesis is divided into an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion.
Intertextuality is an important subject in literary and linguistic studies. As a term, it
was introduced by Julia Kristeva in 1966. The main idea of intertextuality is the
shaping of a texts' meanings in the light of another. Consequently, there is no text,
rather intertext. Other critics and theorists developed this theory.
has a social approach to it.
textual analysis of
intertextuality, and focuses on the role of the reader rather than of writer. Chapter
one of this thesis is an introduction and is divided into three sections. Section one
tackles the theory of interextuality. It discusses its definition, applications, roots
and history, development, and its pioneers, while section two focuses on the
multiple types and devices of intetextuality. Section three focuses on Ian McEwan's
life and career.
Chapter Two studies McEwan's Enduring Love (1997). It tackles important
issues such as the controversy between human studies and literature on the one
hand, and science on the other. The researcher tries to discover what kind of
intertextuality this novel has.
Chapter three discusses McEwan's masterpiece, Atonement (2001). It is a very
rich intertextual novel. The researcher tries to discover McEwan's aim behind this
aura of intertextuality, how he exploits them for the sake of the themes, techniques,
narrative, and finally for the sake of metafictionality.
In chapter four, the researcher analyses McEwan's novel, Sweet Tooth (2012).
First, the researcher tries to focus on its complexity which is due to the
interconnectedness between intertextuality and metafictionality on the one hand,
and its genre as a spy novel, on the other. This chapter sheds light upon how
intertextuality serves metafictionality and vice versa, and how intertextuality
interferes with all levels of this novel, themes, narration, structure, and characters.
Finally, the conclusion sums up the findings of the study.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ...1
1.1 Intertextuality: Its Definition and Theories... ....1
1.2 Types and Devices of Intertextuality...11 1.3
Ian McEwan`s Life and Career...15
CHAPTER TWO: Intertextuality in Enduring Love...26
CHAPTER THREE: Intertextality in Atonement...60
CHAPTER FOUR: Intertextuality in Sweet Tooth...102
ABSTRACT IN ARABIC ...164
1.1. Intertextuality: Its Definitions and Theories.
Intertextuality is not an easy term to define as it is associated with many
theories. Oswald Ducrot, Henning Nolk, and Kjersti Flottum associate it
with polyphony. According to them, it is the recognition that a text contains
different voices encoded in various ways. While Hohl Trillini and Sixta
Quassdorf see the intertextual process as involving earlier and later texts,
and an element of the former appears in the latter.
Graham Allen, in his Inertextuality: the New Critical Idiom (2000), states
that the meaning of intertextuality is not easy to determine, and it arouses
many criticisms and interferes with other theories. He says:
Intertextuality is one of the most commonly used and misused terms in
contemporary critical vocabulary. An Intertextual Study of ... ` or
Intertextuality and ... ` are such commonplace constructions in the titles of
critical works that one might be forgiven for assuming that intertextuality is a
term that is generally understood and provides a stable set of critical
procedures for interpretation. Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.
The term is defined so variously that it is, currently, akin to such terms as the
Imagination`, history`, or Postmodernism`: terms which are, to employ a
phrase from the work of the US critic Harold Bloom, underdetermined in
meaning and overdetermined in figuration.
One might see the root of
in Aristotle`s works, in the
theory of imitation. The focus of this theory is the originality through
retelling the messages of antiquity with transformations and stylistic
perfection. According to this theory, a work of art is the result of ages of
discrimination devoted to the attainment of a free and harmonious union of
form and thought. According to the theory of imitation, all art is imitation.
Plato also, states that the mimetic function alone is relevant to artistic value.
Aristotle also in his Poetics predicts this theory by stating that the poet is an
imitator like any other artist. According to him, the artist should imitate one
of the following: things as they were, speech as it was said or thought to be,
and things as they ought to be. The dramatic creation is the reduction and
the intensification of multiple texts, which are known for the poet, and may
be for the reader too. These texts vary, may be written works of literature,
oral traditions of myth, ... etc.
T. S. Eliot also has a contribution to intertextuality, though this term is
not directly mentioned in his criticism. His theories and concepts of
impersonal poetry`, objective correlative`, and mythic method` have a
close resemblance to intertextuality. His concepts of impersonal poetry` and
objective correlative` are closely related to his attitude to tradition as
important parts in making poetry. When he presents these terms, he makes a
direct reaction against Romanticism. In one of his essays Blake, he
accuses this poet for being personal in his poetry, and not employing
In his essay Tradition and Individual Talent (1920), Eliot focuses on
the idea that the writer must have a historical sense which is timeless and
temporal. He says:
Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if
you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the
historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would
continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense
involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence;
the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation
in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from
Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a
simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical
sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the
timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it
is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in
time, of his contemporaneity.
The Mythic method` is a version of intertextuality. It is presented in his
essay on Joyce`s Ulysses Ulysses, Order, and Myth (1923). He says that
Joyce used a myth of the past but not as imitator. He compares him to a
scientist who gets benefit from the discoveries of Einstein to improve his
own discoveries or achievements. It is not a myth rather than narrative
method or mythic method. It is not presented as a story to be discussed in
detail in the text. The major function of this method is a structural one, to
provide order in the literary work. It also provides unity to the literary work,
so instead of isolated symbols, the poet introduces a mechanism of symbol
networks. So, there is no need for explanations for each symbol. Finally, this
method provides a basis for comparison between the old and the new work.
Actually, the mythic method is classified under the term intertextuality.
Many critics compare Bakhtins` heteroglossia and dialogism to Eliots`
concept of tradition which itself is considered the starting point to Kristevas`
intertextuality. Many critics also see intertextuality as a new name for old
tricks` such as allusion and influences. They consider intertextuality broader
than Eliots` 'Mythic method'.
Mikhail Bakhtin, is another originator of intertextuality. His approach to
language is more social than Saussures'. According to him, words are
exchanged in specific social sites, specific social registers, and specific
moments of utterance and reception. Bakhtin calls this the dialogic aspect of
language, which focuses on class, ideological and other conflicts, divisions
and hierarchies within society. Bakhtin lays the emphasis on the otherness
of language, on its internal stratification, on what he calls polyphony, or
heteroglossia the coexistence and interplay of several types of discourse
reflecting the social or class dialects and the different generations and age
groups of society. For Bakhtin the life of the word is contained in its
transfer from one mouth to another, from one context to another, from one
social collective to another.
Characteristically, to Bakhtin the novel is the only truly dialogic literary
genre, poetry being single-voiced and essentially monologic.
interests in the social and cultural aspects of language led to what he
called 'dialogism' which he viewed as the necessary relation of any
utterance to other utterances.
His theory of dialogism, which he relates
back to the Socratic dialogues, is based on the idea that due to the fluid
nature of language, all texts have traces of other texts within them and are all
part of a matrix of utterances. Bakhtin proposed that we understand texts
because of their connection to earlier patterns of meanings, utterances, or
To sum up Bakhtin`s achievements in this regard, dialogism` means
interchange between different characters` voices or distinct languages, or
between individual or personal and social moment of utterances. So, the text
is a tissue of references or a mixture of other texts. While Heteroglossia`
refers to what is called in sociolinguistics register`. It refers to recognition
of different languages within society, languages of different social,
professional groups and classes.
The term intertextuality is coined by the poststructuralist critic Julia
Kristeva in her essay Word, Dialogue and Novel (1966). Kristeva
introduces this term as a response to Saussure who claims that signs gain
their meaning through the structure in a particular text, implying that
meaning is transmitted directly from writer to reader. The underlying
principle of intertextuality is relationality and lack of independence. Kristeva
argues that because of the influence of other texts on reader's consciousness,
texts are always filtered through codes` which bring the weight of other
previous meanings with them. So, it is already included in a web of
meanings created by other texts and the connotations surrounding them as
opposed to deriving meaning directly from the structure of signs. According
to her, intertextuality means that there is no text, rather intertext, which is a
tissue of inevitable, references and quotations of other texts. These in turn
condition its meaning: the text is an intervention in a cultural system.
Krestiva criticizes the works of Bakhtin. In her essay Word, Dialogue,
and Novel (1966), she pays attention to the novel which according to
Bakhtin is the most dialogical system and full of opposing and divergent
voices. In this essay, she talks about the poetic language in general and not
only that of the novel. She says, any text is constructed as a mosaic of
quotations: any text is the absorption and transformation of another.
notion of intertextuality replaces that of intersubjectivity, and poetic
language is read as at least double.
is an influential developer of intertextuality. In
The Death of the Author (1968), Barthes argues that the death of the
author is a logical necessity, and the birth of the reader must be at the cost
of the death of the author.
It is clear that he speaks metaphorically, and
that by 'the Author' he means what he also calls the 'Author-god,' not the
scriptor, whose writing is the trac[ing] of a field without origin or which,
at least, has no other origin than language itself .''
For Barthe, The death
of the author means that nobody has authority over the meaning of the text,
and that there is no hidden, ultimate, stable meaning to be deciphered.
Barthe states that:
Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile.
To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a
final signified, to close the writing. Such a conception suits criticism very well,
the latter then alloting itself the important task of discovering the Author (or
his hypostases: society, history, psyche, liberty) beneath the work: when the
Author has been found, the text is explained victory to the critic. [...] In
the multiplicity of writing, everything is to be disentangled, nothing
deciphered; [...] the space of writing is to be ranged over, not pierced; writing
ceaselessly posits meaning ceaselessly to evaporate it, carrying out a
systematic exemption of meaning.
Barthe's textual analysis was particularly influenced by Kristeva`s work
on the notion of text and intertextuality. He develops an approach to the
reading of narrative texts that marked the decisive step in the shift from
structuralism to post-structuralism. Instead of seeking to relate texts to a
structural notion of the abstract system of narrative, he develops a method
that foregrounds the involvement of texts in the vast intertextual arena of
cultural codes and meanings out of which they are woven. According to him,
textual analysis, based on this intertextual notion of meaning, replaces the
apparently scientific and objective approach of structuralism with an
emphasis on the openness of the text (its meaning can never be fully
captured or resolved) and the productive role of the reader of the text (each
individual reader brings with him a specific and distinct if in no way unique
relation to the cultural text). In Theory of the Text, Barthes argues that a
text has meaning only when a reader activates the potential meanings
intertextually present within it. Intertextuality, exists in the act of reading
Michael Riffaterre considers intertextuality an operation of the reader`s
mind. This is in his essay Intertextual Representations: On Mimesis as
Interpretative Discourse (1984). He confirms the general thesis that
intertextuality means the displacement of critical interest away from the
author. He means works that are not created by their authors, but works are
created by works, texts are created by texts, all together they speak to each
other independently of the intentions of their authors. So no text exists on its
own. It is always connected to other texts.
The core of Riffaterre`s semiotic
approach (semiotics is a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols
that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and
natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics) is
his belief that literary texts are not referential (mimetic). On the contrary, he
argues that they have their meaning because of the semiotic structures which
link up their individual words, phrases, sentences, key images, themes and
rhetorical devices. The centrality of intertextuality in Riffaterre`s work is
signaled by this anti-referential approach. Intertextual theory argues that
texts and signs refer not to the world or even primarily to concepts, but to
other texts, other signs. Riffaterre frequently alludes to what he calls the
referential fallacy (the meaning of a sign lies purely in its referent) and
asserts that the text refers not to objects outside itself, but to an intertext.
Accordingly, Kristeva`s theory of intertextuality assumes that meaning
and intelligibility in discourse and texts are based on a network of prior and
concurrent discourses and texts. Every text (and any cultural object) is a
mosaic of references to other texts, genres, and discourses. Every text or set
of signs presupposes a network of relationships to other signs like strings of
quotations that have lost their exact references. The principle of
intertextuality is a ground or precondition for meaning beyond "texts". It
describes the foundational activity behind interpreting cultural meaning in
any significant unit of a cultural object: whatever meaning is discovered or
posited can only occur through a network of prior "texts" that provide the
context of possible meanings and our recognition of meaning at all. Any text
is constructed as a combination of quotations, any text is the absorption and
transformation of another.
The term intertextuality has taken on a variety of meanings. On its
most basic level, it is the concept of texts' borrowing each other's words and
concepts. This could mean as much as an entire ideological concept and as
little as a word or phrase. As the authors borrow from previous texts, their
work gains layers of meaning. Another feature of intertextuality reveals
itself when a text is read in light of another text, in which case all of the
assumptions and implications surrounding the other text shed light on and
shape the way a text is interpreted.
M.A.K. Halliday in his book On Language and Linguistics (2003), states
that each text is a combination of intertextual cycles of the chain of texts,
this chain becomes the history of the text. According to him, every text is the
product of two levels; the intertextuality, and the writers` creativity. The
intertextual elements are translation, adaptation, quotations, implications,
allusions, recreations ... etc. Furthermore, intertextuality is part of all text
types (journalistic, scientific, philosophical, historical, and religious texts).
According to Halliday, the history of the text has four dimensions:
intertextual, developmental, systemic, and intratextual. According to him
also, intertextuality is part of the history and archeology of the text. It is the
chain of cycles of text generation. The past of the sentence or discourse is
not its grammar or linguistics, but its instantiations (the network of the
Intertextual history is the temporally prior set of acts of meaning which the given
act of meaning makes allusion. This is familiar in literature and philology as
allusion and in semiotics as intertextuality, and as such needs no exemplification
... At the moment of textual encounter, besides the text in focus, other discourses
-- discourse from other discursive formations which depend on the subject's
positioning in other practices -- cultural, educational, institutional -- are always in
Harold Bloom has a special version of intertextuality. As a critic, he
pays special attention to Romantic Poetry and asks the following question: if
the romantic poets are described as unique as far as the process of
imagination is concerned, why do they return directly or indirectly to Milton
as authoritative figure. Blooms` answer is because of belatedness` (coming
after the events). Blooms` version of poetry is intertextual. He argues that all
poetry (and literature in general) imitates the old one. According to him,
poetry stems from two motivations: the first concerns the desire to imitate
the precursors` poetry, and second is the desire to be original. He explains
this in details in his book The Anxiety of the Influence:
a Theory of Poetry
Bloom in The Anxiety of the Influence:
a Theory of Poetry
All criticisms that call themselves primary vacillate between tautology - in
which the poem is and means itself- and reduction in which the poem
means something that is not itself a poem. Antithetical criticism must
begin by denying both tautology and reduction, a denial best delivered by
the assertion that meaning of a poem can only be a poem, but another poem
- a poem not itself. And not a poem chosen with total arbitrariness, but any
central poem by an indubitable precursor, even if the ephebe never read that
poem. Source study is wholly irrelevant here; we are dealing with primal
words, but antithetical meanings and an ephebe's best misinterpretations
may well be of poems he has never read.
He means that the poet misinterprets and misread the original poems.
According to him, a poet becomes a poet by being hooked on the earlier
poetry. A good poet for him must rewrite the precursors` poems. But at the
same time, they must go beyond their rewriting or as he calls it
misreading. In addition to imitation, they must transform, redirect, and
reinterpret the already written texts in new ways.
Intertextuality flourishes greatly in the light of literary studies and leads
to the formation of views of literature as a self referential system that
changes and guides itself by its courses. This term also has affected the
theories of production, existence, structure, meaning, function, and reception
of a literary work. It takes the form of pastiche, baroque, and avant-garde.
Moreover, intertextuality exceeds literary studies to the domains of
linguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, the study of folklore, art,
music, film studies, and electronic media.
Postmodern writers, especially writers' of metafiction, employ
intertextuality to a large extent, to the degree that it becomes the outstanding
feature of the postmodern text. Adolphe Haberer in his essay Intertextuality
in Theory and Practice (2007) focuses on this point, and discusses its far
reaching consequences and implications for literary interpretation. First, he
considers postmodernism as the development of modernism. Then, he argues
that the working of intertextuality is already used by modern figures like T.
S. Eliot and David Jones in which he believes as a continuation of
modernism to postmodernism. He considers intertextuality as a prime
exponent of postmodernism; it is very much valid and provides a solid basis
for interpretation. According to Haberer, even if we enter a new age 'beyond
postmodernism', we cannot do without the key concept of intertextuality to
measure experience as readers of literary text.
Metafiction as Patricia Waugh states is
a term given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws
attention to its status as an artfact in order to pose questions about the relationship
between fiction and reality. In providing critiques of their own method of
construction. Such writings not only examine the fundamental structures of
narrative fiction, they also explore the possible fictionality of the world outside the
literary fictional text.
1.2. Types and Devices of Intertextuality:
There are many types of intertextuality. The attempt to sum them all is
not an easy task, because, first, there are so many types of intertextuality.
Second, it works on all language levels. Third, there is sometimes an overlap
between these types, other times, the difference between some types is a
matter of terminology.
One view states that there are two types of intertexuality; intertextuality
of text/author, and intertextuality of the reader. The first type focuses on the
text itself, analyses it to discover the echo of other texts. The second type of
intertextuality emphases on the reader himself, his prior knowledge, his
experiences of reading, and the influences that he receives from his previous
the term transtextuality as a more inclusive
term than intertextuality, and lists five subtypes and intertextuality is one of
them. They are intertextuality, which involves quotation, plagiarism, and
allusion; paratextuality which is the relation between a text and its
paratext, that which surrounds the main body of the text such as titles,
headings, prefaces, epigraphs, dedications, acknowledgements, footnotes,
illustrations, etc.; architextuality which is the designation of a text as
belonging to a genre or genres; metatextuality which is an explicit or implicit
critical commentary of one text on another text; and hypotextuality which
is the relation between a text and a preceding hypotext, a text on which it
is based but which it transforms, modifies, elaborates or extends including
parody, spoof, sequel, translation, etc. For Genette, intertextuality has three
types; explicit, non-explicit (hidden), and the implicit. The explicit type
presents the elements of previous texts in the later text (like quotation).
While hidden intertextuality like plagiarism, is used in the construction of a
particular text which is hidden and not identified by the writer. While
implicit intertextuality means that the present text contains hints about the
elements of other texts like references and allusions.
Intertextuality consists of many devices likes travesty, pastiche, burlesque,
quotation, and epigraph. Parody also subsumes enveloping compass of
intertextuality. Plagiarism appears to complicate the issue, but there is an
essential difference between this term and the other devices which are
characterized by honesty and literary integrity. Plagiarism is usually a
concern to conceal or destroy its sources while intertextuality on the other
hand strives to reveal these. Parody facilitates the understanding of
intertextuality as an imaginative act of writing not as something blended or
derivative. Parody means disrespect and mockery of the original text.
Robert S. Miola in his article Seven Types of Intertextuality
introduces seven types of intertextuality. He divides them into three
categories and draws the attention to three points of consideration. The first
is the degree of verbal similarity between the two texts (the source and the
present text). The second point is the degree to which its effect relies on
audience recognition. The third point is the degree to which the
appropriation is 'eristic'. He states that these divisions are not absolute or
exclusive, rather there is an overlap between them. The first category
according to Miola, involves five types of intertextuality. It comprises
specific text mediated directly through the author. Revision, as the first type
of intertextuality. It involves a closed resemblance between the anterior and
posterior texts. The latter takes the identity of the former. It might be
prompted by external circumstances as censorship, or theoretical, legal, or
material exigencies. Other times, the revision might reflect the author's
wishes. A reviser presents a different set of problems and considerations, but
the transaction is linear, specific, and involves evidence of revisers`
preference and intentionality.
Translation is a second type of intertextuality which transfers the text into
a different language. Translation is grouped according to source language
and judged by the standards of fidelity`. The third type of intertextuality is
quotation. The writer literally reproduces the interior text in a later one. It
might be recognized by the reader through typographical signals, or by a
switch in language, or by actual identification of the original author or text.
The fourth type is the source. The shadow of the former text might appear in
different ways in the later text. It might work on the level of content,
rhetorical style, or form. There are three subdivisions of sources; A) the
source coincident (the earlier text exist as a whole in dynamic tension with
the later one, the later text may respond to the earlier. B) The source
proximate, it is the most familiar kind of intertextuality. The source
functions as the book on the desk, the author honors, reshapes steals,
ransackes and plunders. And, C) the source remote, this kind is not easily
marked, it involves famous and classical stories and authors, grammar
school texts, ... etc.
The second category, according to Miola contains the traditions which
affect the later text in different ways (direct or indirect) as commentaries,
adaptations, translations, and reifications. The difference between direct and
indirect influence of traditions is that the indirect effect the original text may
never be read by the author at all. Under this category, there are two kinds of
intertextuality, the conventions and configurations. A fifth type of
intertextuality involves classical, medieval, continental literature, myths,
soliloquy, etc. The sixth kind is genres, they may appear in individual
signifiers (ex, play within play or revenge tragedy, or the singing shepherd
In category three, the focus is shifted from the text and the author to the
reader, from text and traditions to cultural discourses. This kind of
intertextuality is called "interdiscursivity."
It is the relationship that each
text, oral or written, holds with other utterances in corresponding culture and
organized ideologically according to register levels. In other words, the
literary critics receive the literary production as revelatory of culture poetics,
the critic not the author brings the text to the table. Within this category, lies
the paralogues which is the seventh type of intertextuality. They are texts
illuminate the intellectual, social, theological, or political meanings in other
texts. They move horizontally and analogically in discourses rather than in
vertical lineation through the author`s mind or intention. The critics can
adduce any text in cojunction with others.
Charles Bazerman in his essay "Intrtextuality: How Texts Rely on other
Texts" distinguishes between two kinds of intertextualiy, implicit and
explicit intertextuality. The explicit is the direct reference to the previous
text. While implicit intertextuality is the reference to other texts without
indicating its source. Here, the reference is indirect, and the intertextuality
relies on the interlocutor`s familiarity with the two texts. In other words, the
discourses rather than materiality of the texts are implicitly alluded in the
Intertextuality, is not confined to a particular type of text but occurs in all
kinds of texts. Moreover, it does not occur in written language only,
speaking also might involve intertextuality. One can extend the view
concerning intertextuality to say that it works in all levels of life, language
(written/ spoken), communications, behaviors, learning, and beliefs. In this
study, the researcher will adapt Bazerman`s approach in analyzing
intertextualities in McEwan`s selected novels.
1.3. Ian McEwan`s Life and Career
Ian McEwan was born in 1948 in Aldershot, England. His father is David
McEwan (Scottish sergeant major in the British army). His mother was a
widow with two children. She lost her husband in WWII. McEwans` family
had difficult circumstances. The father joined the British army in the 1930s
because of the shortage of employment in Glasgow. The mother, on the
other hand live hard life. His first life was spent on British military bases in
England, then in Singapore and Libya. It is in Libya that McEwan had the
first sense of history and politics. At the time of the dual invasion (British
and French) of Egypt to control the Suez Canal, he watched his father
organizing matters where British families gathered together in armed camps
for their own protection. All this makes McEwan understand how political
events have a real effect on peoples` lives, not just stories in papers to be
read. This is an important stage in his life.
Living in different countries with both parents from the ' working class,
is another important stage in McEwans` life. The geographical rootlessness
added the feeling of being in a form of class limbo. The family experienced
a curious kind of dislocated existence. At the age of eight, political
consciousness was aroused inside McEwan. This occurred when England
emerged as a world power after Suez crisis in 1956. In his introduction to the
screenplay The Ploughman's Lunch in 1983, he made parallels between
Suez and the Falkland Campaign. He located the birth of his political
consciousness with the death of England as a colonial power.
McEwan`s early works are characterized by self ambiguity in which he
is tackling important social themes within the fictional scenario. His early
narrative is described as snide and bored
or as acutely dysfunctional or
, at other times as inexplicaply lawless.
He deals with
obscure matters, especially with children, sex, death, or their dogged way in
which they deal with their mother's demise as well as with their own sexual
explorations. All this is without obvious emotion which makes them
narratively competing. They are also characterized by a lack of narrative
explanation. He prevents readerly identification with characters. The
characters are the product of their environment which is vague and its
presentation is also vague. His works are denaturalized.
The period from 1970 to 1980 is a difficult time in England. It is the time
of decline in economic and social fortunes. From another side, this period
witnessed the emergence of retrenched conservative forces which was
savage for many. This government which was led by Margaret Thatcher
destroyed the history, the welfare state had been forging off in the early
postwar period, as well as the breaking of the country`s strongest workers
union. All this had its shade in McEwan`s early works which is why most of
his works contain surrealistic elements and sense of historical surreality.
Because of extensive intertextuality and contorted autobiography,
McEwan has a complex narrative game in which the world of the novel is
warped in its frame. McEwan`s fiction is confusing and ambiguous, this
reflects the state of the world at the beginning of the 21
century. He is
sometimes accused of plagiarism, especially in Atonement.
In twentieth century literary history, McEwan occupies a central role
among British novelists. He stands alongside with writers like Martin Amis,
Graham Swift, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Those writers fashion on an ethical
vision for the post-consensus` period which is characterized by the growth
of self-interest, the expansion of corporate power and the collapse of the
welfare state. So, consensus politics appear in the early writings of Amis and
McEwan which can be seen as a strategy for awakening the collective
conscience. McEwan`s writings treat issues that are significant: politics;
male violence and the problems of gender relations; science and the limits of
rationality; nature and ecology; love and innocence; and the quest for ethical
worldview. His literary career begins with writing plays and adapting
Thomas Moun's short story for TV in the late 1960s. His first works of
fiction are two short story collections, First Love, Last Rites and In Between
Generally speaking, the main characterstics of McEwan`s fiction are:
feminism, science and rationalism, a moral perspective, and fragmentariness
of his text. The women`s Movement in 1980 shaped most of McEwan`s
writings. His writings show a complex development in women`s characters
and their roles in his fiction. This interest emerges in the 1970s in his short
stories Homemade, Pornography and Dead As They Come. All these
writings focus on male control, domination, and exploitation of women. The
Cement Garden presents a complex polarization of male and female, with
emphasis on male animal desire. In The Comfort of Strangers, the male
character represents a hard embodiment of a proud man who mistreats
women. The patriarchal obsessions that drive the characters in Homemade
and Dead as They Come are echoed in Leonard`s (the protagonist)
fantasies in The Innocent, fantasies that almost destroy and certainly disrupt
his relation with Maria (Leonard`s beloved). While his The Imitation Game
and Or Shall We Die? are described as purely feminist works. Adam Mars
Jones criticizes The Child in Time and identifies two things: all women
characters are subordinated or secondary to one male character. The second
thing is that this novel ends with an open question, whether one is dealing
here with a man stealing a women`s potential, or a man becoming sensitive
to women`s experience. In Black Dogs, there is a male-female clash and the
novel remains balanced between the two viewpoints. While in Enduring
Love, the male is Joe who believes in rational materialism and his wife,
Clarissa, who has a vague emotionalism. She depends too much on feelings
rather than reason. In most of his fiction, feminism has limitations, and men
appear as having the patriarchal mentality and are cruel and savage towards
women in action and in thought. Women, on the other hand, are far from
admirable themselves, many of McEwan's female figures are feminine
stereotypes (victims, mothers, mystics, emotionalists ... etc).
Science and scientific explanation (for consciousness and emotional
responses) have a good share in McEwan`s fiction. It is not authoritative
factual confirmation about consciousness in any simple sense, but, it is a
scientific model which provides confirmation about the quest for selfhood
that supports McEwan`s narrative. Another British critic and novelist, David
Lodge, in his essay Consciousness and the Novel agrees with the same
point. According to Lodge, novel is arguably man`s most successful effort to
describe the experience of individuals. The reason why the novel can do this,
while scientific disciplines cannot do that, is that science deals with general
laws and applies them universally. Fiction, on the other hand, tackles
specific personal experiences which are unique, each individual has a
different personal history. This uniqueness corresponds to the individualized
self of the notional formidable reader (the receiver of the narrative).
According to Lodge, literature constitutes a kind of knowledge about
consciousness which is complementary to scientific knowledge. Actually, he
is affected by the neurologist Antonio Damasio, who has a direct influence
on McEwan. Damasio has scepticism about science`s presumption of
objectivity and definitivness. According to him, scientific results, especially
in neurobiology, are provisional approximations, to be enjoyed for a while
and discarded as soon as better accounts becomes available. This emphasizes
the continuation between literature and science.
Enduring Love is McEwan`s most scientific novel in which there are a
strange relationships. One of them is between two men (Joe, the protagonist,
and Jed). McEwan produces a conscious experience to the reader`s mind,
especially when the reader meets the horror in The Comfort of the Strangers
and in The Innocent, the dread in Atonement, and the shock of Enduring
Sebastian Groes considers McEwan a scientist since McEwan is
motivated by curiosity and has rational inquiry, and uses fiction to
understand the mind and to explore human nature. Also, he uses words to
alter the reader`s consciousness. According to McEwan, psychology is in a
sense only catching up with fiction, and neuroscience may break the writer`s
job, for example, in Saturday the main character is Henery Perowne
(neurosurgeon) who deliberately stimulates patient`s brain to induce a
thought. In one way or another, he is like a novelist. According to McEwan,
Voltaire is the best scientist writer. McEwan writes about changing the
perception of Darwin`s work and admires Richard Dawking`s The Selfish
Gene (1976). According to McEwan, this book is one extended invitation
addressed to non-scientists to enjoy science, to let on ourself in the feast of
The cosmopolitanism is an important part of British fiction. Critics notice
this in McEwan`s fiction: in The Comfort of the Strangers with its
quasivenetian setting and its illusions to German literature. It is also to be
found in Black Dogs and in The Innocent. McEwan is considered part of a
dominant trend in the 1980s and 1990s fiction, but he has his own style
which distinguishes him from his contemporaries. Concerning history, in all
his writings he shows interest and focus on the world but in a different way.
His interest in history is a head on engagement with the dominant political
ideology of 1980s Britain, especially his rejection to conservative party
politics. The Child in Time, The Innocent, and Black Dogs are described as
Between the 1980s and 1990s McEwan takes a new direction in his
career. There are four main features in his writings: a charisma with history
(distant and immediate history); interest in setting abroad (outside the British
Isles) or characters and experiences from outside England; genre mixture;
and metafictional interests. The Child in Time is a head-on engagement with
dominant political ideology of 1980s Britain, and on rejection of what
conservative party politics have brought to the country. The Innocent is a
historical novel, about Berlin in mid-1950s, about the cold war and United
States as a dominant political power. Black Dogs is mainly historical as it
deals with post-war British communism, World War II, Poland in 1981, the
fall of the Berlin wall. In addition, his screenplays, The Imitation Game and
The Ploughman's Lunch, deal with historical and social issues.
As a cultural commentator, McEwan tackles significant topical issues,
including feminism, the dangerous proliferation of nuclear weapons,
religious fundamentalism and millinialism, in addition to the events of post
11/9 world. His wishes to be a chronicler of the present, pushes him to visit
the Soviet Union. In Saturday, he talks about the anxious and the uncertain
post 11/9 climate.
Another important thing in McEwan`s fiction is story telling. He changes
the story (the original) by retelling it differently. Many of his characters
(especially the first person narrator or those characters whose point of view
are dominant) are writers. In most of these works, there is an emphasis on
how to tell a story, the perspective, the style, the method, the facts told, the
facts left, the lies, ... etc.
McEwan`s style in language is described by clarity`. Language in
postmodern writing is used as a tool or method of deception and distraction,
to convey the idea of discommunication while McEwan interest in language
is more than what he calls music', he uses the exact term in the right place,
the well-judged phrase perfectly balanced to convey what is designed to
McEwan`s fiction is characterized by variety in genre, techniques, as well
as uniqueness in style. He does not confirm himself to one genre or
technique. He also tackles many important themes. All these make him stand
as a prominent novelist in the postmodern era.
Philip Shaw and Diane Pecorari, Types of Intertextuality in Chairman`s Statement
, (accessed 3/ 1/ 2016).
Graham Allen, Intertextuality: the New Critical Idiom (London: Routledg, 2000), 1-2.
Staislaus J. Piwowar, The Classical Theory of Imitation in the Works of the
(accessed 3/ 1/ 2016); Stephen David Ross, A Theory of Art: exhaustibility by Contrast
(New York: State University of New York Press, 1982), 15; Michael Worton and Judith
Still, ed., Intertextuality: Theories and Practices (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 1990), 4.
Darlene Tennerstedt, T. S. Eliot: Impersonal Poetry and Tradition Lake Forest
College Publications (5-1-1994): 23,
, (accessed 7/ 1/ 2016).
T. S. Eliot, Tradition and Individual Talent in The Sacred Wood, (1920): line 3,
, (accessed 7/ 1/
Manjola Nasi, The Mythic Method and Intertextuality in T. S. Eliot`s Poetry
European Scientific Journal, vol. 8, no. 6 (n.d): 1-3, 5,
, (accessed 7/ 1/ 2016).
Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1984), 201 quoted in Adolphe Haberer, Intertextuality in Theory and
Practice LITERATURE, University of Lyon 2 (2007): 57,
, (accessed 9/ 1/ 2016).
Lesley Lanir, Intertextuality-All Texts are Parts of Matrix of Utterances Decoded
Science (February 25, 2013): 1,
, (accessed 3/ 1/ 2016).
Allen, 11; Haberer: 57.
Maria Eireni, Intertextuality and Literary Reading: a Cognitive Poetic Approach
(PhD diss., University of Nottingham, 2012), 3,
, (accessed 15/ 1/ 2016).
Tamar Mebuk, Analyses of the Prpblem of Intertextuality Conciousness, Literature
and Arts vol.12, no. 2 (August 2011): 1,
, (accessed 3/ 1/ 2016).
Julia Krestiva, Word, Dialogue, and Novel in The Krestiva Reader, edited by Toril
Moi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 37.
Vincent B. Leitch, ed., The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (United States
of America: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2001), 1470, quoted in Haberer: 58.
Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author in The Rustle of Language, translated by
Richard Howard, (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986): 147.
Neil Forsyth, Introduction: From imitation to intertextuality, Nordic Journal of
English Studies vol. 8, no. 2 (2009): 5,
, (accessed 7/ 1/ 2016).
Haberer: 58; Allen, 115.
Moussa Ahmadian and Hooshang Yazdani, A Study of the Effects of
Intertextuality Awareness on Reading Literary Texts: the Case of Short Stories Journal
of Educational and Social Research vol. 3, (2 May, 2013): 156, 158,
www.mcser.org/journal/ index.Php /jesr/article/download/152/145
, (accessed 7/ 1/ 2016);
M. A. K. Halliday, On Language and Linguistics, edited by Jonathan Webster (London:
continuum, 2003), 361.
Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: a Theory of Poetry, 2nd ed. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1973), 70.
Marko Juvan, "Towards a History of Intertextuality in Literary and Culture Studies",
translated by Timothy Pogacar, (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2008): 4.
Regina Rudaityte ed., Postmodernism and After: Vision and Revision (Cambridge:
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), 7.
Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self Conscious Fiction
(London: Routledge, 1984), 2.
Ahmadian and Yazdani: 157.
Forsyth: 5; Ahmadian and Yazdani: 159.
Sudha Shastri, Intertextuality and Victorian Studies (Bangalore: Orient Longman,
2001), 10 -11.
Robert S. Miola, Seven Types of Intertextuality, in Shakespeare, Italy, and
Intertextuality, edited by Michele Marrapodi, (Manchester: Manchester university press,
Ibid. : 16-18.
Ibid. : 21.
Ibid. , 37.
Anelise Scotti Scherer, Explicit Intertextuality in Science Popularization News
Revista Ao pé da Letra Volume 12 (2 2010): 30,
, (accessed 3/ 1/ 2016).
David Malcolm, Understanding Ian McEwan (South Caroline: University of
South Caroline Press, 2002), 1.
Dominic Head, Contemporary British Novelists: Ian McEwan (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 2007), 3.
Eluned Summers- Bremner, Ian McEwan: Sex, Death, and History (United States:
Cambria, 2014), 9.
Sebastian Groes, ed., Ian McEwan: a Contemporary Critical Perspectives, 2
(London: Bloomsbury, 2013),
Head, 2; Malcolm, 2.
Head, 18, 19.
Groes, 9, 10.
Ibid., 3, 10, 11.
Malcolm, 7, 8.
Groes, ed., 2, 3.
Margaret Reynolds and Jonathan Noakes, Ian McEwan: the Essential Guide
(London: Vitage, 2002), 7, 8.
Ibid. , 8,9.
Intertextuality in Enduring Love
Enduring Love is a novel about the meaning of love and the purpose
of life. Its most obvious theme is love, how it can be obsessive and
intimidating, supportive and redeeming, how it can be self-deluding. This
novel is published in 1997 and is made into a film in 2004. It is McEwan`s
sixth novel. It begins with the author`s comments and most influential
critical reviews. It is well received and its reputation never declines. The
first pages of Enduring Love are examples of taut, compelling, imaginative
prose from the beginning. Moreover the narration, structure, and the
characterization of this novel have their share of criticism. The most
important critic of Enduring Love is McEwan himself. In 1998 he says that
the novels which are written between The Child in Time, ending with
Enduring Love are novels of a crisis and transformation, rites of passage of
great intensity for characters.
Merritt Moseley thinks Enduring Love is one of the best novels of
1997, Anita Brookner describes it as a brilliant novel and marvelous
Amanda Craige praises its reliance on popular science. While
Jason Cowley thinks it over determined and overly schematic. He talks
about its content and its dominant themes, how it juxtaposes a mad version
of the plottedness of human relation to the divine design, and that love can
be destroyed by madness. A. S. Byatt talks about its structure, in addition to
how rationalism and irrationalism can strengthen or weaken relationships.
David Malcolm pays emphasis on how reason can only work with its own
perspective on events, testing its conclusion against available evidence.
The story of Enduring Love begins with its narrator, Joe Rose, a
science journalist, who is fond of scientific theories, rationalism and
materialism. He goes on a picnic in the English countryside with his
beautiful wife Clarissa. She is a Keats` scholar. They sit under a tree, as Joe
reaches for a bottle of wine they hear an alarmed shout. They hurry beside
other five men, and find a grounded hot air balloon falling with a young boy
trapped in the basket. This accident is a real one which McEwan`s friend
read in a newspaper when they were in Ireland. In the novel, the balloon is
pushed by the winds towards a precipice. These men are Jed Parry, a young
man in his twenties, a doctor in his early forties called John Logan, Joe
Rose, as well as two other men. They all try to hold the balloon to the earth,
but it starts to rise up. All of this team releases the ropes of the balloon
except for Logan who hangs to the rope until he falls several hundred feet
The rationalist Joe describes the fall as a failure of human co-
operation. If all men stay holding the rope, they may save the balloon.
Meanwhile Parry asks Joe to join him in prayer. The aftermath of this
accident is very evident upon Joes` life that he feels guilt, and one way or
another, he is responsible for the death of Logan. Parry also attempts to
suppress his homosexual inclinations by immersing himself in a fervent and
very personal version of Christianity. He begins haunting Joe claiming to
bring him back to God. He starts to follow him everywhere, leaving letters
and messages to him. Actually, it is not only Gods` love, but also Parry is
convinced that Joe has loved him in return and knows everything about him.
Joe tries to get rid of this difficult situation (of this obsessed man); his
marriage begins to deteriorate because of this dilemma. Joe realizes that
Parry is suffering from a psychological condition (De Clerambault
Syndrome). At the beginning Joe tries to stop him and does not tell Clarissa,
but when she knows she does not believe him. Does Parry passion really
exist? Or does Joe make all of this up? Even when she believes that there is
love from Parry, she still wonders whether it was caused some way by Joe
or not, or whether it just appears out of nowhere?
The word tragedy appears many times in the novel to describe
Logan`s death. The characters use it differently according to different
contexts. Joe as a narrator uses it first, to talk about the possibility in the case
if he is chosen as an uncontested leader, he says I know that if I had been
uncontested leader, the tragedy would not have happened.
happened, they might save the balloon and avoid this tragedy. The second
time, by Joe also, to announce the end of the story and the beginning of
another story, it is the end of the accident story and the beginning of his own
torture story. He says, The moment Logan hit the ground should have been
the end of this story rather than one more beginning I could have chosen.
The afternoon could have ended in mere tragedy. (26) While the third time
this word is used by Parry, it is the first word between Parry and Joe,
employs it to his own context, to convince Joe of his faithful desire or world:
Look, we don`t know each other and there`s no reason why you should
trust me. Except that God has brought us together in this tragedy and we
have to, you know, make whatever sense of it we can? ... I think you have a
special need for prayer? (33) The fourth time this word is used by the
narrator is to shed light upon the difference between Joe and Clarissa, how
the husband is a rationalist who is away from her emotional side, and also to
remind the reader of the impact of Logan`s death upon Joe:
He is therefore
vulnerable, but for now she cannot make herself feel protective. Like her, he
has reached the senseless core of Logan`s tragedy, but he has reached it
unaware. Whereas she wants to lie quietly in soapy hot water and reflect, he
wants to set about altering his fate. (91)
Parry becomes obsessed more and more, he decides to get rid of
Clarissa or both (Clarissa and Joe), if he does not get what he wants. There is
a scene in a restaurant showing this. Parry hires a gunman who tries to shoot
Joe. The police do not believe that Parry tries to kill Joe at the beginning.
Then Parry captures Clarissa in her apartment, but Joe arrives in time. Parry
threatens them to commit suicide, Joe shoots him in the arm, and stops him.
As a result, Clarissa decides to leave Joe.
Joe feels a sense of guilt and trauma as an aftermath of the accident.
This indicates the innate ethical sense. In addition to this, Joe sees recurring
nightmares which adds to his torture. He sees earthquakes, a fire in a sky
scraper, a sinking ship, and erupting volcanoes:
The horror was in the contrast between their apparent size and the enormity of their
suffering. Life was revealed as cheap; thousands of screaming individuals, no
bigger than ants, were about to be annihilated and I could do nothing to help. I did
not think about the dream then so much as experience its emotional wash terror,
guilt and helplessness were the components and feel the nausea of a premonition
But all these sufferings are part of his social self-understanding as an
identity. For, Joe, it is supposed to be a balance between self and communal
interest rather than pragmatism. Joe decides to visit Logan`s widow to
confess his guilt as an attempt to get relief but he is surprised to hear that
this widow suspects her dead husband and accuses him of betraying her with
another woman during the balloon accident, but at the end, and by Joe`s aid,
she as well as the reader discover that Logan is innocent. The story ends
with Joe meeting Clarissa in a picnic which suggests their reunion.
Science, rationalism, and materialism are recurrent themes in
McEwans` works. Enduring Love is a vivid example of these themes.
Moreover, the title contains a pun, it refers to love that suffered and lasted at
the same time which is represented by the love triangle of the story. The
couple faces harsh circumstances. yet, they overcome them. McEwan`s aim
behind this story is to set against the claim of post-Darwinism science, about
the evolutionary basis of morality and interpretation. Because Enduring
Love focuses on science, this makes it a representative text of its time.
During its time, the novelists show orientation and engagement towards the
biological sciences. According to Patricia Waugh, this interest leads to the
publication of Human Genome sequences, to understand the scientific
explanation of mind, and to see the possibility of a final theoretical closure
which focuses on the material universe, and through this closure the
undecidability` at the core of postmodernism is overcome. According to
Dominic Head, McEwan as a postmodern novelist, presents a picture of
human existence which demonstrates the final inadequacy of any
reductionist evolutionary account but without therefore capitulating to the
postmodern evacuation of knowledge and judgment.
Moreover, in this
novel, McEwan moves away from political and historical themes to
concentrate on the relationship between two men. It argues also the
redeeming power of human love and suggests that love is fragile.
Enduring Love finds its existence depending upon several other texts.
Since the main theme is the duality of two cultures (science and literature),
so there are two main intertextualities; the first is to literature, and the
second is to science, beside other minor intertextualities. Moreover,
Enduring Love is a mixture of different genres together (pastiche); it is
difficult to categorize according to one genre.
In this novel, McEwan shows his capacity to bridge different genres
together, sometimes this novel is considered a psychological thriller, a
meditation on the narrative impulse, a scientific novel, and a novel of ideas.
In addition to, it is a self-aware text (metafiction). One of the important
points that one should stop at is the two final appendixes. The first is an
article from the British Review of Psychiatry, it explains the De
Clerambault`s Syndrome, with examples of this case. The second appendix
is Parry`s letter to Joe from the psychiatric institution in which he is
incarcerated. He still delivers his enduring love to him, he is waiting for
some sort of religious revelation that will bring Joe to him again, and
announces that faith is anything but joys.
Enduring Love is a complex work with a hybrid nature. It is a generic
interweaving of psychological thriller, love story, epistemological thriller,
and psychiatric case study. It is considered a postmodern metafiction which
has so many metafictional elements, as drawing the attention of the reader to
the process of constructing, intertextuality, and selfconsciousness. It is
regarded a novel of ideas (since it is about the ways in which the world can
be known and understood). A novel of ideas involves intellectual discussion.
Moreover, its plot, narrative, emotional conflict, and psychological depth are
limited. Enduring Love is a novel of ideas in addition to other McEwan
works, like The Child in Time, Black Dogs, and The Innocent. All these
novels form a cycle. For Dominic Head, Enduring Love is a novel of ideas
which is an exploratory vehicle that delivers narrative surprises. In other
words, ideas are woven within McEwans` narrative art. This novel is about
the debates of nature/culture dichotomy, literature/science dichotomy, and
emotion/reason debates. All this is represented by the characters of Joe,
Clarrisa, and Parry. That is why McEwan cites Antonio Damasio`s
Descartes' Error in the acknowledgments. This figure is the key inspiration
to dissociation of the emotion/reason dichotomy. For Damasio, the debate
between reason and emotion is false, and feeling is the essential component
of the machinery of reason.
All these debates lie in Enduring Love. Joe is accurate in his judgment
and understanding of Parrys` threats. There is a recuperation or protection of
reason, which is facing the potential harm of abnormal feelings. All these are
not mentioned in the novel directly, but it is the fictive and the imaginary
motor of the novel. The influence between McEwan and Damasio means
that the former admires writers who have complex ideas. It means also that
McEwan uses these sources to enrich rather than to simplify, to make serious
writing rather than simply to draw intellectual choices. To sum up, the
strength and tension of this novel are the result of characterization
confounding the presentation of ideas. Behind each character there is an
idea, for example, McEwan himself says about Clarissa, I wanted someone
both sympathetic and wrong,
whereas I wanted in Joe someone who was
slightly repellent, but right.
Clarissa lacks rationality and depends upon
emotion. This indicates that this woman is innocent, dislocated, and has
incomplete character at the same time. There is an idea of scheme, and a
tacit concept of maturity, which allows a balance between reason and
Enduring Love is a psychological novel since it consists of a lot of
pathological states like Parry`s obsession and Joe`s desperate clinging to his
sanity in the face of his stalker. Such kind of fiction focuses upon the
spiritual, emotional, and mental lives of the characters and deals with the
analysis of character rather than with plot and action.
In addition to this, what makes this novel complex is that Clarissa in
chapter 23 speaks to herself and gives her view for the events but from a
different perspective. For example, she thinks that Joe exaggerates in his
reaction to Parry`s case, as when he isolates himself from her, and regards
his dilemma with Parry as a solution to his guilt as far as the balloon
accident is concerned. Sometimes she considers all Parry`s story fake or a lie
made up by Joe himself. This depends upon three pieces of evidence: first,
Parry`s handwriting in his letters is similar to Joe`s, second, Joe lies to her
when he receives Parry`s call and delivers his emotion to him, but Joe tells
his wife it is a wrong number, and finally, he hides all parry`s letters and
deletes all his messages. She is a complicated figure and she adds
psychological complexity to this novel. Moreover, this novel gets its
psychological focus in its self-consciousness and self-examination of Joe`s
There are two psychological components in Joe`s character. First of
all, he is associated with a sense of guilt as he thinks he is responsible for
Logan`s death. In order to get rid of this, he visits Mrs. Logan. As a result of
the balloon accident, Joe sees many nightmares and many figures he is not
sure what they are. While the second component, is deep existential
upheaval. What makes his life worse is the appearance of Parry and his
obsessive love. Joe diagnoses the collapse of his own mental and emotional
Sometimes, he is anguished and has a suppressed cry to Clarissa:
Don`t leave me here with my mind, I thought. Get them to let me out. (65)
He also says, It was as if I had fallen through a crack in my own existence,
down into another life, another set of sexual preferences, another past history
and future. (74)
For David Malcolm, Enduring Love is a psychological novel, it
analyses the secondary central characters beside its details and ambiguous
portrait of its narrator and principal characters. In addition to this, Malcolm
regards this novel as a crime and a detective story. Crime fiction is
characterized by the commission of a crime, a motivated action, accusation,
judgment, and punishment of the criminal. It consists also of an assault,
rape, and/or murder. While detective stories, has an investigator as its
protagonist. This novel is regarded so due to its complex plot. Joe is a
detective of sorts and its violence scenes (verbal and physical) are associated
with crime fiction. But according to Malcolm all this is subordinated to
Malcolm concludes his criticism of this novel
Enduring Love is an intriguing story, an intricate, psychological novel, a dark
commentary on love`s fragility, an examination of the limits and possibilities of
knowledge, and a sophisticated metafictional piece. In this, his sixth novel,
McEwan seems, indeed, to have become a very substantial writer.
Part of the psychological focus is the world view. Joe`s world view is
filled with order and control. He is a complex and ambiguous character, a
rationalist, materialist, fact-oriented, and distrustful of emotions. He has a
strong sense of failure and disappointment. Finally, he rejects everything he
cannot explain logically.
McEwan`s psychological study of Joe is rather a complicated one,
according to Parry, There`s no problem with Joe Rose. Also he says: His
world is in place, everything fits, and all the problems are with Jed Parry.
(142) Of course he says this ironically. McEwan presents the world of his
protagonist as foursquare and unstable. Despite all his success, Joe is
plagued with a sense of failure and he is a recycler of other`s ideas, not an
original research scientist. He is disappointed by the police and Clarissa
when they do not believe him as far as Parry`s harassment is concerned. So,
the narrator-protagonist`s world is not underpinned.
Moreover, Enduring Love is considered an epistemological thriller
since it is concerned with the difficulties of knowing and understanding the
world. Joe, for example, is a rationalist scientist who depends too much upon
his scientific knowledge and method. His interest with science links him to
McEwan himself in his interest with the problems of knowledge. It is an
epistemological fiction where it presents different kinds of knowledge. In
addition to that, it is concerned with the limits and the possibilities of
knowing the world. During the course of the novel, one might see four
possibilities related to the subject of knowledge. The first possibility is that
the scientific knowledge is the best, facts are facts. The second is that the
narration is a kind of self-justification to conceal or fictionalize Joe`s
relation or treatment of Parry and Clarissa. So, Joe is an outright liar. The
third possibility is that all forms of knowledge are equal, Joe`s traditional
scientific knowledge, Clarissa ill-defined feelings, and Parry`s metaphysical
joy are the same. The fourth possibility of knowledge is that knowledge is an
uncertain thing, difficult to achieve but is attainable. The best way to get it is
through Joe`s science and rationalism.
Amanda Craig in The New Statesman considers this novel a
psychological thriller. She praises its discussion of famous scientific ideas,
and its schematic opposition between Parry and Joe.
Donna Seaman in Booklist writes: McEwan, a master stylist, has the
complex psychology of this extreme yet credible situation [Jed`s stalking of
Joe] down pat, managing, too, to subtly transform the struggle between Joe
and Jed into a life-or-death battle between reason and faith, rationality and
The struggle between Joe and Parry is actually the struggle
between life and death, reason and faith, rationality and madness.
In addition to this, this novel is considered a crime story. Joe is stalked
by a madman who earlier tries to commit suicide. In addition, there is an
attack scene when Parry tries to kill Clarissa in her apartment, then Joe
shoots him in his arm and saves Clarissa. But, despite all this, the main focus
of this novel is the characters` psychology. In this sense, this novel is a very
traditional, triangular, psychological love story. It sheds light upon
characters` mind and feelings in respect to each other.
Sean Matthew discusses the metafictional elements in this novel. In
his essay Seven Types of Unreliability, he examines how the text is self
conscious (draws the attention to its narrative), and how Joe Rose repeats his
subjection to the form, structure, and organization in telling his story. Even
the balloon accident which is the main accident is narrated in three different
ways. This novel contains a number of inconsistencies and problems from
several different types of unreliability especially with Rose`s narrative. This
arouses the doubt whether Joe is right or not, as Joe`s astonishing lie to the
diagnoses different types of unreliability as deliberate
unreliability` as when Joe lies to the police, and he tells his wife about
Parry`s call. In this case, Joe holds information from the reader and other
characters around him. If the information is announced, it will cast his
earlier comments and reflections in an odd light and aggravates unease about
the reliability of the narrator. The other type of unreliability is discrepant
unreliability` in which there is no motivation or intention. This occurs when
Joe talks to Parry in chapter 2: I meant it as a suggestion, but it came out as
a request, something I needed from him. (29) In chapter 12 also, Joe
searches Clarissa`s desk and reads her letters. He decides not to tell her:
Now I really did have something to conceal from her I had crossed and
recrossed the line of my own innocence, (113) but she discovers that by
herself because he leaves the drawer open, and understands this as a massage
from him. In addition to these types of unreliability, there is an explicit kind,
candid unreliability`. This occurs when Joe fails to notice, remember or
understand events around him, like his inability to remember who is the first
to let go of the rope in the balloon accident. This by itself is an important
motive behind much of the action of the novel. He never identifies the
precise course of events, even when Logan`s widow asks him about her
husband to make sure of his innocence. He could not remember how many
windows are opened in Logan`s car. In the London Library, Joe is not quite
sure whether he sees Parry`s distinctive shoe or not:
But I had seen the
color woven into the glimpse of shoe. I had, sensed him behind me even
before I saw him. The unreliability of such intuition I was prepared to
Moreover, this novel might be read as a work of metafiction because
there is a number of metafictional elements. One of them is that the opening
sentence: the beginning is simple to mark. (9) This indicates a self-
conscious narrative, it is a narrative with a point of beginning. So, Joe is a
self-conscious narrator, he makes a self-advertising switch of point of view
in chapter 19, and then tells the reader that this is the climax. Moreover,
there is the story within story technique. The characters themselves make the
stories, like Parry`s story (his story with Joe), Mrs. Logan story about her
husband is close to fiction, Clarissa`s way of evaluating the events around
her which is rejected by Joe, and the police also who considers Joe`s story as
a private narrative. The reader might note that any story is uncompleted,
limited, and distorts the events. For example, appendix 1 retells the novel in
a completely different way and language, in a purely scientific, psychiatric
scholarly paper. It defines Parry`s madness as a well-encapsulated
delusional system. (245) Knowledge also is represented in the stories, but
with multiple views. McEwan makes the stories in this novel unequal. At the
end, the reader discovers that Joe is more accurate than the rest and wins in
The opening scene of the novel is of significance, Joe and Clarissa sit
under the tree in the picnic. Then, the balloon accident occurs. This scene is
linked to the Bible. It is similar to Eden and the Fall. This is from the first
book of the Genesis. In addition to the parallel between suffering and
sacrifice of Jesus and that of Joe and John Logan.
Moreover, there is an allusion to Milton`s Paradise Lost, beside two
quotations from this poem. The first is in Ch. 1 on page 23, I`ve never seen
such a terrible thing as that falling man, the second is in chapter 3, p. 37,
Hurl`d headlong flaming from th` Ethereal sky. The fall of Logan in the
novel is similar to the fall of Adam from the paradise where the world of
innocence. This provides McEwan objective correlative for the emotion the
reader should feel over the fate of Logan and Joe, and Clarrisa`s love.
The first major intertextuality is to the romantic poet John Keats
(1795-1821).The relation to Keats begins from the start and seems to be a
central one. Clarissa is fond of Keats, to the extent that she decides to meet a
Japanese scholar who has read a reference to a letter Keats wrote but never
sent. It is for his beloved Fanny Brawne which contains crying of undying
love, not touch by despair (221). Clarissa wants to prove that Keats` love
does not die with his death, love endures after death. Clarissa spends most of
her time searching after Keats` last letter. Joe thinks that Clarissa believes
that love needs to be expressed, especially in letters: "In the months after we
met, and before we bought the apartment, she had written me some beauties,
passionately abstract in their exploration of the ways our love was different
from and superior to any that had ever existed. Perhaps that`s the essence of
a love letter, to celebrate the unique."
The reference to Keats` letters is not simple intertextuality. McEwan
wants to create an intertextual sign-system. The central theme of this novel
is the meaning and the value of love. This comes in concord with Keats`
philosophy. This novel has three principle love stories: Clarissa`s love for
Joe, Parry`s love for Joe, and Mrs. Logan`s love for her husband. The nature
and the meaning of love depend upon analogy, comparison, contrast, and
interconnectedness of the text to other texts and contexts. Keats` love is so
innocent and belongs to the realm of the imaginary. This in turn is parallel to
the passionate love between Clarissa and Joe at the beginning of the novel,
then to the fading love under the difficulties of the new situations. Parry also
has a morbid and obsessive love which destroys the couples` lives. It
constitutes a sub-plot in this novel and provides many comments on the
theme of love. Keats` reference is the central one in this novel, because it
provides the pivotal thematic opposition of the novel, scientific rationalism
vs. aesthetic and intuitive perception.
In chapter 19, page 166, there is another reference to Keats, this time
is to his poems Endymion and Ode to Grecian Urn. Endymion is a pastoral
poem which explores the meaning of love (mortal vs. immortal love). The
shepherd Endymion makes different relations with immortal women like
Cynthia (the goddess of the moon), Venues (the goddess of love), Adenis
(mortal goddess), and Neptune (the god of the oceans). At the end of his
journey of his search of immortal love, he chooses an Indian maid (mortal
woman of flesh and blood). He falls in love with her and chooses her over
other women. At the end of this poem, this woman transforms into Cynthia
(the woman whom he loved at the beginning and is still in search for her).
This suggests that human acceptance of earthly beauty leads to immortality.
This poem starts with A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
This states the
theme of this poem, in addition it deals with the value of love. For
Endymion as well as for Keats, the attainable pleasure of the world offers
more than divine pleasures.
The first line of Endymion is equal to Parrys` sentence Faith is joy
in chapter 19, page 253. Actually, each one of the three characters has his
own philosophy of love. For Joe, truth is important and is above everything
else (objectivity), Clarissa is affected by Keats` view of love and beauty,
while for Parry, joy is to be found in faith.
In Clarissa`s birthday party page 173, there is a quoted line of Keats`
I reached into my jacket pocket and could not resist the chocolate-box lines.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty... Clarissa smiled. She must have guessed long
before that she might be getting Keats, but she could not have dreamed of what was
now in her hands, in plain brown paper. Even before the wrapping was off, she
recognized it squealed. (173)
It is from Keats, Ode to Grecian Urn. In this poem Keats addresses an attic
Greek vase. The pictures and scenes on it represent the history of Greece.
The people on the vase are happy, young forever, no tragedy, no disease, and
no death. One should put in his mind that Keats lived a tragic life, filled with
misery, suffering, and illness. He expected death every moment. Keats`
philosophy is aestheticism, art immortalizes people. He ascribes the figures
on the vase, with a sensual pleasure of eternal duration without torture or
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd
For ever panting and for ever young;
All breathing human passions far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Keats points out that the vase is an object speaking for itself at the end
of the poem, and reminds the reader that beauty is truth, and truth is beauty.
He means that through art man can find a link with his own basic humanity.
This intertextuality highlights the thematic oppositions of the novel which is
between scientific rationalism, represented by Joe, and intuitive perception,
represented by Clarissa. In this sense, Clarissa is like Keats, believes that
beauty is the ultimate criterion of truth. This view clashes with her
The theme of Keats` ode is similar to that of the novel which is the
difference between transient and permanent love, the ties between joy and
pain, contrast and similarity between nature and art, and knowledge and
imagination. The textual connection between the two texts is easy to trace,
most clearly Keats` phrase forever wilt thou love and the second line
refers to the urn as a foster child, which brings to the mind that Joe`s and
Clarissa's desire is to adopt a child.
Joe and Clarissa are the main characters in Enduring Love. They
represent different principles: science and literature, reason and emotion,
nature and culture. For example, they represent different attitudes to
Darwin`s theories and thoughts (especially those concerning human
behavior and values). Joe has a sociobiological oriented mind and admires
evolutionary psychology too much. Clarissa, on the other hand, stands
against rationalism and new fundamentalism that applies reason to
everything. What McEwan does in this novel is that he tries to depict the two
sides of the Darwinist/humanist debate. According to McEwan, science and
literature are antagonists. Moreover, Darwin threatens the values of literary
critics. The good evidence for this debate in this novel is that there are two
different explanations for the infants` smile, the first one is by Joe and the
other by Clarissa. Joe applies Darwin`s thoughts, he says:
The word from the human biologists bears Darwin out: the way we wear our
emotions on our faces is pretty much the same in all cultures, and the infant smile is
one social signal that is particularly easy to isolate and study. ... In Edward O.
Wilson`s cool phrase, it triggers a more abundant share of parental love and
affection. ... In the terminology of the zoologist, it is a social releaser, an inborn
and relatively invariant signal that mediates a basic social relationship. (77)
Clarissa, on the other hand, depends on her emotional nature when she says:
"Everything was being stripped down, she said, and in the process so larger
meaning was lost. What a zoologist had to say about a baby's smile could be
of no real interest. The truth of that smile was in the eye and heart of the
parent, and in the unfolding love that only had meaning through time.
When Joe dismisses Clarissa`s view concerning the childs` smile
relating it to her consequence reading of Keats, he describes her as being an
obscurantist (77) it is a fear of the rise of science which is similar to the
fear that is articulated at the end of Lamia (Keats` famous poem),
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnom`ed mine?
Unweave a rainbow.
But Joe has a view which is opposite to Keat`s and Clarissa,
I told her I thought she had spent too much time lately in the company of John
Keats. A genius, no doubt, but an obscurantist too, who had thought science was
robbing the world of wonder when the opposite was the case. If we value a baby`s
smile, why not contemplate its source? Are we to say that all infants enjoy a secret
joke? Or that God reaches down and tickles them? Or, least implausibly, that they
learn smiling from their mothers? But then, deaf-and-blind babies smile too. That
smile must be hard-wired, and for good evolutionary reasons.
Keats` poem is written in 1819 and is his last narrative poem. Its
theme is built around a love story between a young philosopher and a
beautiful enchantress (Lamia). This story is linked to Keats` habitual themes
of beauty, imagination and the interdependence of dream and reality. So, one
can say that Lamia, like Clarissa, is associated with positive romantic values
such as beauty and imagination. She obviously contrasts her lover, the
philosopher (and Joe in Clarissa`s case).
Enduring Love contains a lot of letters, some of them are sent to Joe
from Parry and Clarissa. Both of those characters are represented in the text
by their letters. Peter Childs connects this point of similarity to Samuel
Richardson`s Clarissa or The History of a Young Lady, and to Virginia
Woolf`s Mrs. Dallway. The heroines' in all these novels are called Clarissa.
Moreover, the word clarity is repeated four times in this novel and it has a
strong assonance with Clarissa`s name. In the dictionary, this word means
clearness, visibility, clarification, purity, ... etc. Accordingly, McEwan`s
choice of this name, is suitable to its character and its role in the novel.
McEwan`s heroine is known for her pure personality. She spends most of
her time in studying Keats` poetry, dealing with concepts of love and beauty,
away from the materiality of this life.
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) is an English printer whose novel
Clarissa in 1740 is regarded one of the longest novels (1500 pages) in
English language. It is an epistolary novel, and falls into eight volumes. The
protagonists are Clarissa and Lovelace. Their relationship destroys them.
There is also a parallel between those texts in that Parrys` harassment of Joe
is similar to Lovelace`s to Clarissa in Richardson's novel. Richardson`s
Clarissa misunderstands Lovelaces` obsessive sexual intentions as incest. In
Enduring Love, Clarissa misunderstands and misjudges a dangerous man
(Parry). She thinks she understands this man well enough to the degree that
she doubts Joe`s state of mind which in return affects the readers doubt
Virginia Woolf`s (1882-1941) protagonist of Mrs. Dallway (1925) is
also called Clarissa. She prepares for a party. There she meets her previous
lover, Peter Walsh. Through a stream of consciousness, they remember their
beautiful days. In this novel, Woolf pays attention to the importance of
modern understanding of time, memory, and the creative consciousness. At
the beginning of the novel (like Clarissa in Enduring Love), She believes
that she understands people by instinct.
Parry sends many letters to Joe to explain his case or to express his
emotions towards him. In some of these letters, such as the one in chapters
11, 16, and appendix 2, he speaks directly to the reader. This is an
identification of his over flooded emotion for Joe. At the same time these
letters have a narrative importance. Joe selects two out of many letters sent
to him from Parry. The third one is delivered to the reader by Parry himself.
He is at a psychiatric hospital. It is also the one hundredth letters.
This novel contains merits of science and literature. He adds also that
there is no reference to political or historical issues as usual. According to
him, this novel marks a new phase in McEwan`s career in which literature is
subjected to renewed scrutiny. The context of this novel is intellectual rather
than political. McEwan uses science as a tool to examine social models.
McEwan shows interest in evolutionary psychology, biology and
socio-cultural evolution in this novel. There are many situations where these
fields are mentioned. One of the biological matters that is discussed during
the course of the novel is the Human Genome Project. DNA is the
transforming principle responsible for transmitting genetic information. First
of all, the story is told by Professor Jocelyn Kale (Clarissa`s godfather) when
he gives her a present in her birthday. This occurs exactly when Jocelyn
introduces his present, it is a brooch of human DNA, two gold bands
entwined in double helix (170). Jocelyn narrates the story of DNA which
is identified by Johan Miescher, a Swiss chemist who identified DNA in
1869. Jocelyn continues this story saying that this chemist discovers DNA in
century but unfortunately his paper has been blocked by his teacher for
two years. He insists and continues his research to discover the nucleic acid
which comprises DNA. At that time, chemistry was new, and the DNA was
McEwan cites many sources in his acknowledgments of this novel.
The first is Robert Gittings` Biography of Keats, and the second Stephen
Gills` William Wordsworth: A Life. The first source is referred in chapter
19, p. 174, as its title suggests, McEwan depends on it as far as Keats is
concerned, while the second source is mentioned only in the
acknowledgments. However, Clarissa (in the same chapter and in the same
page), gives information that is related to the meeting between Wordsworth
and Keats, when the latter presents Endymion, the former dismisses it as
being pagan. She says that they must not trust the myth of this famous
putdown because it cannot be totally verified. Stephen Gill talks about this
meeting in his essay perhaps more than on any other occasion in
Wordsworth`s life one longs for a reliable witness to what actually
In his acknowledgements to this novel, McEwan acknowledges many
figures and books like E. O. Wilson`s On Human Nature (1978), The
Diversity of Life (1992) and Biophilia (1984); Steven Pinker`s The Language
Instinct (1994); Antonio Damasio`s Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and
the Human Brain (1994); Robert Wright`s The Moral Animal: Evolutionary
Psychology and Everyday Life (1995); Walter Bodmer and Robert Mckie`s
The Book of Man: The Human Genome Project and the Quest to Discover
our Genetic Heritage (1995) (Acknowledgements, p. 5). Most of them deal
with evolutionary science. Particularly speaking, E. O. Wilson`s On Human
Nature is a cornerstone for McEwan. McEwan praises his prose style.
Wilson believes in the theory of gene-culture co-evolution. For him culture
has biological roots, culture and genetics mixe together to evolve humanity`s
Tackling evolutionary biology, leads to the scene in the wood, where
Joe gets a gun and tests it there. This is to save Clarissa from the murderous
Parry. There, he tries to conjure a moment of calm depending upon his
scientific observation. He tries to find a steady long perspective in the earth
bound scale of the biology. He observes in the habitants of microscopic
realm the bacteria, the parasite, and talks about the role they have in the
cycle of life:
What I thought might calm me was the reminder that, for all our concerns, we were
still part of this natural dependency for the animals that we ate grazed the plants
which, like our vegetables and fruits, were nourished by the soil formed by these
organisms. But even as I squatted to enrich the forest floor, I could not believe in
the primary significance of these grand cycles. Just beyond the oxygen-exhaling
trees stood my poison-exuding vehicle, inside which was my gun, and thirty-
five miles down teeming roads was the enormous city on whose northern side
was my apartment where a madman was waiting, . . . and my threatened loved one.
What, in this description, was necessary to the carbon cycle, or the fixing of
nitrogen? We were no longer in the great chain. It was our own complexity that had
expelled us from the Garden. We were in a mess of our own unmaking. (206207).
Joe diagnosis the failure of the evolutionary system: there is no harmony
between the cycle of life and the technological and emotional development.
The evolutionary system is not relevant to the development of human
societies. In this sense, modern man is over-evolved or unmade.
The reader might observe the implied intertextuality between McEwan
and Thomas Hardy. One should note that, McEwan is the natural heir to
Thomas Hardy as far as evolutionary biology is concerned, as both believe
in Darwin theory. In chapter 22 of Hardy`s A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873),
Henery knight believes that he is facing death. He stares at a Triolombite
fossil in the cliff face. Before him, knight reflects on the geological layers
and the immense lapses of time. They represent the dignity of man
differently. McEwan`s Joe, on the other hand, is characterized by propensity
to pollute and by psychic disruption, and realizes himself as belonging to
irrational society, he understands the Fall in the first scene or in the
quotation above as the breaking of the evolutionary cycle. While Hardy on
the other hand, believes the impact of Darwin on human selfperception,
especially concerning man's animal nature and man's place in the
evolutionary cycle. McEwan`s post-Darwinism is considered a partial
historical progression from Hardy`s admiration to Darwinian beliefs and
theories. McEwan shadows Hardy in that perception of human beings has
over evolved. In his notebook, McEwan says that "man has evolved too far
for the imperfect environment in which he is placed. Human emotions, the
capacity to feel and therefore to suffer, are a blunder of overdoing ... the
nerves being evolved to an activity abnormal in such an environment.
McEwan turns towards a different field of evolutionary science,
towards evolutionary psychology. He turns towards Robert Wright`s
deliberation about the selfish employment of moral rectitude. In this novel,
there is an interest in evolutionary psychology (self-persuasion). If
"persuading others of your own needs and interests"(111) is a desirable
social skill, then those who convince themselves first of the justness of their
case will be better at persuading others: "the kind of self-deluding
individuals who tended to do this flourished, as did their genes." (111) This
is when Joe is searching in Clarissa`s desk to seek a means of justifying his
actions. The self-consciousness betrays the failure of self-delusion in this
instance. There is no subsequent attempt to convince Clarissa that the
intrusion, which she feels to be a betrayal, was justified. So, those who
convince themselves by the rightness of their case will be best at persuading
others of the same case. The same thing is repeated in the restaurant scene
(the shooting scene), when Joe says we`re descended from the indignant,
passionate tellers of half-truths who in order to convince others,
simultaneously convinced themselves. (188) The destruction of subjectivity
suggests the breaking of the evolutionary cycle. The relativity of perception
and the failure to persuade mean that this novel takes a different direction
from evolutionary psychology.
Appendix 1 is an article about a psychiatric case which summarizes
the novel`s human dynamic. At the same time, this appendix opens the
likelihood that McEwan builds his novel around a real story (about a man
who suffers De Clermabault`s syndrome. Only the last names of the articles`
authors are given (Wenn and Camia ), and those comprise an anagram of Ian
McEwan's name. It is also published by the Pschiatric Bullein. McEwan
wants to draw parallels between fiction and psychiatry. The appendix is
functioning as an epilogue or concluding chapter in a Victorian novel. It
satisfies the readers` curiosity about what happens after the main action
ends. It is a pastiche of a scientific paper. This appendix is considered as a
clear sign that the novel has a psychological interest.
Peter Childs has his own view concerning this appendix:
Aside from the authors` names making an anagram of Ian McEwan`, an added
irony is that the novelist actually sent the paper included in Enduring Love by the
same authors` to a real journal that then considered it for legitimate publication.
Hence one can see further narratives being produced, indeed narratives that
proliferate. The blurring between fiction and fact that McEwan`s fake paper
represents is another example of how strictures of differing narrative positions,
for instance between history and fiction, are far more intermingled and reliant
upon each other. The academic paper thus achieves number of effects that
reflect back upon the text itself. First, it confirms Joe`s fears that Jed is
potentially dangerous and it proves` through scientific research Joe`s faith` in
certain intellectual procedures. Second, the paper`s narrative is by its nature
intertextual and hence reliant upon prior narratives. The paper is a contribution to
scientific thought and therefore it presupposes future responses, possible challenges
and even contradictions to its basic thesis. Finally, McEwan`s convincing
fictionalization of an academic register and his subsequent witty submission of the
paper to a journal blur the distinctions between fact and fiction. Hence the
narrative(s) represented in the paper are dialogic and heterogeneous.
There is another implied intertextuality in this novel. This time is to the
philosophers like John Locke, David Hume, and George Berkeley. They
believe the philosophy of "esse est percipi" (to be is to be perceived). For
them, this philosophy is the essential feature of all sensible objectives. Paul
Edwards analyses this novel in the light of this philosophy, with regard to
subjectivity and narration, the way one makes sense of the world. He argues
that Parry`s story and beliefs which are at odds with reality, echo the
romantic religious view that nature bears the hand of God-the-creator-all
around. It seems that Joe uses narrative to make the world bend to his own
ends. He is privileged with the position of the narrator in this novel.
According to Edwards, both Parry and Joe try to find narrative that fits the
other`s behavior, and fits their own understanding of reality. He emphasizes
the crucial aspect of narrative.
Joe describes Jed as "inviolable in his
Solipsism is a philosophy which believes that nothing exists outside of
one`s own mind and focuses on individual`s tendency towards self-
involvement, which, at an extreme, can result in mental and physical
withdrawal from society and feelings of paranoia and persecution. This is
connected with the theory of self-persuasion` into reality that Joe adapts to
convince the others by his problem with Parry. There are two kinds of
solipsism, the philosophical solipsism (leaves everything as it is. So, nothing
more than a truism, reality will disappear with the extinction of our
consciousness.), and psychological solipsism (a feeling or conviction that
reality depends on us for its existence; other people are fictional` characters
in our own mind.). This could be found when Parry wants the public know
that Joe is in love with him. Concerning the application of second version
(psychological solipsism) of this theory to this novel, Edwards states that:
The characters in Enduring Love exist only as imaginary repetitions in the reader`s
mind of what the authorhas previously imagined. They really do depend upon
McEwan for their existence. When Joe drives to Oxford on the M40 at close to 140
mph, it is McEwan`s willed choice that he should not crash or be stopped by the
police for speeding. This state of affairs is one that most novelists do not want
their readers to be conscious of, and McEwan`s text is full of references to a
known (or knowable) public world in which the events of the novel are supposed
In chapter 15, Joe writes an imaginary article, it is about the novel as a
genre in the 19
century, about its narrative method and how science
influences it. What is worth mentioning here is that, there is a similar topic is
discussed in Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George
Eliot, and Nineteenth Century Fiction by Gillian Beer. The essential point in
this book is that how Darwin revises the stories he inherits, how the
novelists specially 19
century novelists follow and resist the contradictory
implication of his narratives, and how his stories about natural selection and
the struggle for life now support culture. Beer talks about this book in an
interview in 2009, and says:
Darwin's Plots' considers the stories that Darwin had to think with and the stories
that he generated for other people; about what be imbibed and how he turned or
troubled some of those ideas; when he was growing up the idea of design was
dominant and he was delighted by Paley; what he needed to find was a way of
thinking in opposition to or angle from design, production. In the first part of the
book I look at his language and argue that the language can`t just be skimmed off
leaving the ideas intact; he uses familiar metaphor but turns them away from the
assumptions of the time; because he wrote in the 'Origin' in a discourse that would
be readable by any intelligent, reasonably informed, person of his time it actually
left a great super plus of meaning lying around. In the second half of the book I
look at some of the ways in which other writers spun out from Darwin, either at the
level of structure or allusion, to argue with his ideas; I have done another book
'Open Fields: science in cultural encounter' which is a set of essays on the
exchanges between scientific writing and its cultural setting, including several on
Darwin; I have been doing new work on Darwin because of the celebrations,
thinking about ideas of consciousness across other organic life and the importance
of the arts in Darwin`s thinking. Tennyson's line, 'nature, red in tooth and claw',
was written before either Darwin or Chambers in Vestiges of Creation`; and
Darwin could hardly have lived through the 1850's without being aware of In
Memoriam`, so chimes go both ways; the writers I write about in Darwin`s Plots`
are these Charles Kingsley, Mrs Gatty, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, and a
little bit about Dickens; you could write about almost anybody after Darwin and
relate them to his work because it seeps into the culture, but I wanted to write about
people who we could show had read and reacted to Darwin.
Beer talks about the difference between science and fiction, where
fiction presents a sense of awareness about human condition, while science
and scientific discoveries are the results of searching for progression and
innovation in society. The public realm is conductive to human creativity
and change. She starts her book by saying:
Most major scientific theories rebuff common sense. They call on evidence beyond
the reach of our senses and overturn the observable world. They disturb assumed
relationships and shift what has been substantial into metaphor. The earth now only
seems immovable. Such major theories tax, affront, and exhilarate those who first
encounter them, although in fifty years or so they will be taken for granted, part of
the apparently common-sense set of beliefs which instructs us that the earth
revolves around the sun whatever our eyes may suggest. When it is first advanced,
theory is at its most fictive. The awkwardness of fit between the natural world as it
is currently perceived. And as it is hypothetically imagined holds the theory itself
for a time within a provisional scope akin to that of fiction. Throughout the 1850s
and well into the 1860s, for example, evolutionary theory was commonly referred
to as the Development Hypothesis`.
She talks particularly about Darwin and his influence upon fiction writers.
Darwin has special version of understanding the roots of the past in which
human kind hardly featured. This transfers into literary thinking which is an
interesting barometer for determining how the craft of writing is progressing
under conditions of creative construction. This means that there is an
exchange between science and literature which is covered fully in Gillian`s
book, it is also discussed in length in Enduring Love.
To sum up the discussion of intertextuality in Enduring Love, one can say
that, it is full of references, allusions, and quotations to well-known texts and
figures besides many implied intertextualities. But the main intertextualities,
however, are to Keats, and to Darwinian science. This is because it deals
with the debates between science and literature, and its main characters
represent those two different fields.
Peter Childs, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love (London: Routledgethe Taylor &
Francis e-Library, 2007), 31.
Dominic Head, Contemporary British Novelists: Ian McEwan (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 2007), 121; David Malcolm, Understanding Ian McEwan
(Colombia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002), 155; David Lynn and Ian
McEwan, A Conversation with Ian McEwan The Kenyon Review Vol. 29, No. 3
(Summer, 2007): 45,
, (accessed 5/3/ 2016).
Sven Birkerts, " Ian McEwan's novel is about a homoerotic obsession,
with religious overtones", The New York Times (January 25, 1998), www.nytimes.com/
books/98/01/25/reviews/980125.25birkert.html, (accessed 5/3/ 2016).
Ian McEwan, Enduring Love, (New York: Rosetta Books LLC, 1997), 18. All
subsequent quotations are from this edition and will be given parenthetically
Margaret Reynolds & Jonathan Noakes, Ian McEwan: The Essential Guide to
Contemporary Literature, The Child in Time, Enduring Love, Atonement (London:
Vintage: 2002), 88.
Ibid, 120; Brian Shaffer, ed., Twentieth Century British and Irish Fiction: The
Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd,
2011),251; Malcolm, 156.
Roger Clark and Andy Gordon, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love: a Reader's Guide
(New York: The Continuum International Group Inc., 2003), 66; Childs, 7; Martin
Randall, "I don`t want your story: Open and Fixed Narratives in Enduring Love in Ian
McEwan's Enduring Love, edited by Peter Childs Peter (London: Routledgethe Taylor &
Francis e-Library, 2007), 65.
Alireza Farahbakhsh and Hossein Khoshkhelghat, Tracing Metafictional
Elements in Ian McEwan`s Enduring Love and Saturday" The International Research
Journal Volume No.3 Issue No.3 (September, 2014): 1,
, (accessed 5/3/ 2016); Head, 120, 132-133; J.A. Cuddon,
The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Cambridge: The Penguin
Books, 1998), 602.
Jonathan Noakes, Interview with Ian McEwan`, in Ian McEwan: The Essential
Guide, edited by Margaret Reynolds and Jonathan Noakes (London: Vintage, 2002), 17,
quoted in Head, 134
Malcolm, 155; Cuddon, 709.
Cuddon, 192-193; Ibid. 171.
Ibid., 155, 177, 179.
Donna Seaman, untitled, Booklist 94 (15 Nov. 1997): 524, quoted in Malcolm,
Sean Matthews, Seven Types of Unreliability in Ian McEwan's Enduring
Love, edited by Peter Childs, (London: Routledgethe Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2007),
Childs, 16; Susan Green, Up There with Black Holes and Darwin, Almost
Bigger than Dinosaurs: The Mind and McEwan's Enduring Love up there with black
holes, Style 45, no. 3 (2011): 445,
Childs, 16; Kiernan Ryan, After the Fall`, in Ian McEwan's Enduring Love,
edited by Peter Childs, 4. John Milton (1608-1674) is an English poet, he is best Known
for his epic poem Paradise Lost, it is about God, Satan, Eve, and Adam, it contains many
Biblical stories. William Ames, On Criticisms of Paradise Lost, The Poet's Forum
(accessed 5/4/2016); Albert C.
Labriola "John Milton Encyclopedia Britannica (6/12/2015), Biography &%3b
Works /Britannica.com.html, (accessed 5/4/2016).
Andrew Maunder, Encyclopedia of Literary Romanticism (New York: Facts On
File, Inc., 2010), 214; Childs,19, 116; McEwan, 15.
Farahbakhsh and Khoshkhelghat: 5; Regina Rudaityla, Foregrounded
Artificiality as the Author`s Disguise in Ian McEwan`s Novel Enduring Love
Literaturos Akiraeiai (11,2004)
literaturologija/ \2004/rudaityte.pdf , (accessed 5/4/2016).
Ibid., 117; Heath and Boreham, 118.
Maunder, 309; Hugh Honour, Romanticism (New York: Fleming Honour Ltd.,
Jonathan Greenberg, Why Can't Biologists Read Poetry?: Ian McEwan's
Enduring Love" Twentieth Century Literature Vol. 53, No. 2 (Summer, 2007): 96-97,
Ibid. : 97.
Childs, 116; Reynolds & Noakes, 85.
Harold Bloom, Novelists And Novels (Chelsea: Chelsea House Publishers,
2005), 23; Peter Sabor, Samuel Richardson, in The Cambridge Companion to English
Novelists, edited by Adrian Poole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 31;
Leah Price, The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel From Richardson to George Eliot
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 13; Childs, 117; Green:451.
Bloom, 263; Maria Dibattista, Virginia Woolf, in The Cambridge Companion
to English Novelists, edited by Adrian Poole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2009), 364; Green: 451.
Curtis D. Carbonell, A Consilient Science and Humanities in McEwan's
Enduring Love, Comparative Literature and Culture
Volume 12, Issue 3(2010)
; Childs, 8; McEwan, 170-
Childs, 18; Carbonell: 9.
Childs, 23; McEwan, 5.
Head, 138, 159-160, 162.
Martin Randell, ' "I don't Want Your Story": Open and Fixed Narratives in
Enduring Love", in Peter Childs, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love (London: Routledgethe
Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2007), 64.
Paul Edwards, "Solipsism, Narrative and love in Enduring Love", in Peter Childs,
Ian McEwan's Enduring Love (London: Routledgethe Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2007),
77-78; McEwan, 77.
Reynolds & Noakes, 81; Sarah Harrison and Alan Macfarlane, Encounters With
, (accessed 6/4/ 2016).
Gillian Beer, Darwin`s Plots Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and
Nineteenth-Century Fiction Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2004), I 1.
Johann W. Tempelhoff, Darwin and Eliot in the plots of nineteenth-century
science and fiction, H-Ideas, H-Net Reviews (October, 2001),
. (accessed 6/4/ 2016).
Intertextality in Atonement
McEwan`s Atonement was published in 2001. It became a bestselling
book on both the national and international levels. It sold four million
copies, and is adapted into a film in 2007. This novel received many rewards
and prizes like the National Book Critic`s Circle in 2003. McEwan is also
named twice as a contender for the Man Booker International Prize in 2005
and in 2007 for this novel.
On a personal level and during the time of writing Atonement, McEwan
became a rich material for news. This is first because of his divorce story,
second his discovery of his adopted brother, and finally his accusation of
plagiarism in relation to Atonement. All these are not a point of demerit,
instead they are evidences of McEwan`s stature in the national imagination.
However, McEwan`s employment of history in this novel is secondary
aiming at creating a particular atmosphere to affect his characters. He wants
to criticize his society during war, and focuse on what fiction can do with
history that history cannot.
This novel is divided into four parts, three sections and a conclusion. The
first part takes place in 1935, when the war was looming large. It is about the
Tallis family. The father spends much of his time away from his family in
London because he is a civil servant. The central character is Briony Tallis.
She is thirteen years old when the novel starts. She is a writer and has a vivid
imagination and a continuous conflict between her childhood and
maturation. Imagination leads to the novel`s denouement. She misinterprets
most of the events around her, like falsely accusing the family friend Rubbie
Turnner (the son of the faithful cleaning lady who prepares to enter
Cambridge University to complete his study. Cecilia's father takes care of all
materiel matters) of raping her cousin Lola. As a result, he is jailed and after
five years, Briony realizes what a mistake she commits. That is why she
searches for atonement, in form of her effort to reunite Rubbie and her elder
sister Cecilia one time, and in the form of writing various narratives at other
times, which provides the multilayered structure for this novel.
The novel starts when Briony just finishes writing her melodrama The
Trials of Arabella. She decides to perform it in honor of her brother Leon's
arrival with his friend Paul Marshal. In one long summer day, she sees her
elder sister Cecilia jumping into a fountain with Rubbie. But the fountain
scene changes Rubbie's life.
What happens in the fountain scene is that, Cecilia has a vase which she
values greatly. She wants to fill it with water. Rubbie wants to fill it for her.
They struggle and the vase falls in the fountain and is broken into three
triangular pieces. Rubbie decides to take off his clothes and dive into the
water to get the pieces, but she does this first. The broken vase is an
important symbol. It foreshadows the worse fate of this couple. This damage
also echoes what happens to other fragile objects which are easily broken
and ruined, like Cecilia`s virginity and the couple`s relationship.
Another important scene which changes and affects the direction of the
events is the library scene. Briony enters the library to find Robbie and
Cecilia having a physical relation. Because of her miscomprehension of the
adults` world, and her imagination, she misinterprets this scene as an act of
rape. Another important incident in this part is when Rubbie sends a letter to
Cecilia which contains some sexual phrases in describing a dream he has
seen in previous night. Unfortunately, this letter lies in Briony`s hands who
is a writer and is fond of reading. She uses it as an evidence to accuse
Rubbie of having evil intentions.
The cousins of the family come to live in the Tallis house because of their
parents' divorce. They are the twins Pirrott and Jackson who are seven years
old and their elder sister Lola who is fifteen year-old. One night, the family
prepares a dinner to celebrate the coming of their son Leon and his rich
friend Paul Marshal who has a cruel face. However, only Lola finds him
attractive. In return, he shows some interest in Lola. As part of her
hospitality, Briony decides to perform her first melodrama, The Trial of
Arabella. However, the twin escapes this night before the celebration starts.
Consequently the whole family is shocked and starts searching for them.
During the search attempt, Lola is sexually assaulted, but she could not
recognize the criminal because it is dark and this occurs in an old, remote,
and deserted temple. After days of absence, Rubbie finds the twins and
brings them one upon his shoulder and the other sleeping in his lap. Instead
of hearing praise words, he finds the policemen and the whole family
waiting to arrest him. He is accused of rape by Briony who claims that she
could recognize the criminal's identity. This part ends with Rubbie`s arrest
and his mother (Grace) crying for him.
Part two is rather different from part one, as if the reader faces another
novel. First of all, there are no chapter divisions as in section one, this is to
reflect the disorder of the situation and the chaos of Rubbie`s thoughts. If
part one sheds light on the danger of literary imagination, this deals with
another important theme which is the Second World War. More specifically
it deals with the Dunkirk retreat (1940). In this part, McEwan uses different
tone and different style to depict this dislocation from what has gone before.
There is a lack of exposition, the reader waits till page three to know who is
meant by he, then it is introduced as Turner. From this point on Rubbie is
introduced as Turner as if he is another man. After five years in prison, he
finds himself as a member of the British army, with new friends (Nettle and
Mace). They try to find their way to London during the Dunkirk retreat. And
the reader is plunged into their environment:
There were horrors enough,
but it was the unexpected detail that threw him and afterwards would not let
The reader does not receive full information about why they are in this
place, but things become clear when Rubbie meets Cecilia. The reader gets
some information via his memories and the letters exchanged between the
two. This part focuses on his suffering. He is wounded and he finds himself
in the grip of illogical certainties because of the fragmented civilization.
Additionally, people at that time lose the sense of what is happening.
Rubbie`s hallucinatory states appear in this part, and becomes less coherent.
This is clear when he meets a crying and a familyless boy on the tree:
Invisible baggage. He must go back and get the boy from the tree. He had
done it before. He had gone back where no one else was and found the boys
under a tree and carried Pierrot on his shoulders and Jackson in his arms,
across the park.(247) What happened to him is that his self-
recriminiunation mixes with self-justification as the false accusations affect
his thoughts. He remembers Cecilia and her last words, that she will wait for
him. This phrase is repeated when the couple meets again. It signifies the
bond between the two and her belief that he is innocent. Briony becomes a
nurse, the wounded soldiers arrive where she works. The reader expects a
meeting between Briony and Rubbie but this does not occur. For the first
time, the reader meets the adult Briony, and sees the warmer side of her
personality. She spends years in hospital and feels that her life is passing
haunted by her old sin. She is in need of atonement.
Briony sends letters to Cyril Connolly (a real person) who runs
Horizon, a famous magazine. He replies to her and this reply signifies her
literary ambitions and reminds the reader that this novel is moulded by a
writer for another writer. In this section, she also decides to meet Rubbie and
Cecilia to tell them she will correct what she had done. Then she witnesses
the marriage of Lola and Paul Marshal.
The final section (London 1999) is a conclusion, narrated in first person
narrator, as if this is Briony's last chance to ask forgiveness, to gain the
sympathy of the reader, and to assert her power. She makes herself a novelist
and a god. This part is set in 1999. She talks about what happened to other
characters over sixty four years. She declares also that this is the final draft
of the novel she has been writing for years, in which the reader understands
most of the events for the first time in the right way. It is as if to clear things
up. Now she is seventy seven years old, and suffers vascular dementia: loss
of memory, short- and long-term, the disappearance of single words--simple
nouns might be the first to go--then language itself, along with balance, and
soon after, all motor control, and finally the autonomous nervous system.
(235). Tallis home is transferred into a hotel. The setting frames the
narrative and events. Briony comes to watch the performance of her first
play The Trials of Arabella. At the end she declares to her reader that Rubbie
and Cecilia are reunited, but in her fiction only not in reality because they
die. The second thing that she declares is that
the novel is finally published
en she is dead.
cannot be easily categorized under one genre. It has the
juxtaposition of nineteenth century discourse with modernism. It is a mixture
of romance and thriller. McEwan mixes postmodern techniques and classic
realist techniques to draw the attention to its own construction. It is
considered a histeriographic metafiction, since it deals with historical events
in certain parts of it, at the same time it is a self-reflexive text. It walks the
reader through some of the historical periods of English literature from
Austenesque Romanticism in Part One through historical fiction of the
Dunkirk evacuation of the Second World War in Part Two. Then, the
modern memoir and its aftermath in Part Three and finally postmodern
speculation and theory in Part Four. Simultaneously, being tired of
revising her novel eight times, Briony lays bare the process of fiction
writing, which leads to metafiction. In fact, Atonement, according to Peter
Childs, "places itself in a realist tradition of deep, rich characterization and
social breadth, but displays a modernist concern with consciousness and
However Childs completes his observation by remarking
that, the novel ultimately emerges as at least in part a postmodernist novel,
because it questions its own fictive status, exposing itself as aconstruct.
is a self-conscious work of fiction
concerned with writing of history. It is a fiction that uses metafictional
techniques to remind the reader that history is a construction, not as
something that equates to the past. History is not the past but narrative based
on documents and other material created in the past. Such a kind of writing
appears strongly in the postmodern era. A prominent feature of the 1960s
postmodern fiction is interest in self-reflexive historical reconstruction. The
coordination between history and fiction appears and becomes a prominent
characteristic of the novel in 1970s and 1980s.
This novel can be read as a gothic novel as the setting of Tallis House
Morning sunlight, or any light, could not conceal the ugliness of the Tallis
home-barely forty years old, bright orange brick, squat, lead-paned baronial
Gothic, to be condemned one day in an article by Pevsner, or one of his team,
as a tragedy of wasted chances, and by a younger writer of the modern school
as charmless to a fault. (18)
In addition to this,
the effect of
Mrs. Tallis on the house members reflects
her intention to create an ambience of solidity and family tradition. The idea
that it is a deliberate, socially orientated creation likens the English country
house to an invented tradition and gives the impression of timeless,
unchanging charm. The description of the island temple is also described as
Closer to, the temple had a sorrier look: moisture rising through a damaged
damp course had caused chunks of stucco to fall away. Sometime in the late
nineteenth century clumsy repairs were made with unpainted cement which had
turned brown and gave the building a mottled, diseased appearance. Elsewhere,
the exposed laths, themselves rotting away, showed through like the ribs of a
starving animal. (68)
The dying temple represents the collapse of the fake ethos of Englishness,
although it was built at the same time as the new house, it was supposed to
embody references to the original Adam house (69) creating an artificial
link between past and present a fascinating yet fake punctum in the
Atonement is also considered a work of metafiction. Concerning its
narrative, it is self-reflexive. This is to draw the reader`s attention to the
process of its construction, if we put in mind that writing is the main theme
of this novel. Beside that, Briony is known for her writing of fictional works
and adapts the persuasive function of narratives.
Consequently, it is her
calamities which form the central storyline of the novel. It is difficult to
classify the narrative of this novel as postmodern or realist narrative, since it
plays with narrative devices which undercut classification.
The novel holds
an indeterminate position between the classic, closed narrative and the open
and experimental narratives of postmodernism.
Martin Jacobi provides three readings of this novel. The first three
chapters can be read as
Realistic Romantic Melodrama. Briony has just
written a drama, The Trials of Arabella. It seems that she sees the world
through the lens of romantic melodrama. Her accusation to Robbie is a result
of the employment of a literary logic developed from her reading. As part of
her atonement, Briony meets Robbie and Cecilia and promises them that she
will work to clear Robbie`s name. The temporary reunion between the lovers
represents the reduction of the social status of the lovers. This end is similar
to the end of Briony`s play. The only differences between the two texts is
that in The Trials of Arabella the heroine marries her doctor-lover on a
windy sunlight day in spring, while in Atonement, a similar day
third part, but Robbie is neither a doctor nor the lover who meets his
beloved. The second reading, the author of Atonement depends upon
clues through the book, for example one clue is
the rejection of Briony`s
manuscript by Horizon magazine, which leads most readers to think that
Briony is the author of this novel. While the third reading is an invitation to
Atonement can be read as an attempt to show readers typical and
recurrent reasons for why people misread, ways to misread, and
consequences of this misreading. This means that Briony`s misreading is a
warning to the reader. Kenneth Burke explains this in a rather philosophical
way in his book Philosophy of Literary Form. He says that the attempt to
unburden oneself and achieve psychological balance can move from the
cathartic element to the incantatory element. The attempt to invite the reader
to understand the text as equipment for living,
as a strategy for dealing
successfully with a situation that is typical and recurrent in a given social
He explains that this happened
a process of
oversimplification and analogical extensions. This means that Briony`s
misreading of the reality is the result of a faulty schema, is the result of
linking the patterns of romantic melodrama with the actions in the world and
thereby produces disastrous results.
Intertextuality in Atonement generates more meaning and depth to the
text. The intertextuality that McEwan uses is of explicit and implicit kinds.
They affect the reading as well as the reader of this novel. According to Jie
Han and Zhenli Wang, the aim behind these intertextualities is to draw the
attention of the reader to a self-conscious narrator, to give the novel richer
meaning and this makes the reader read in a productive way. McEwan`s aim
behind these intertextualities is to provide a textual medium for exploring
readership in the novels, he wants his reader to be a critic. Postmodern
writers want their reader to have enough knowledge of literary tradition to
approach new texts. In other words, they want them to be active participants
in the construction of the text, to have optimal` reading experience.
Atonement is a rich intertextual novel. The reader might see this from
its beginning. It begins with the epigraph. It is taken from Jane Austen`s
Northanger Abbey (1818):
Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have
entertained. What have you been judging from? that we remember the country and
the age in which we live. Remember we are English: that we are Christians.
Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own
observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such
atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being
known in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a
footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and
where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what
ideas have you been admitting? They had reached the end of the gallery; and with
tears of shame she ran off to her own room.
This epigraph draws the attention of the reader to the power of literary
imagination, and makes him aware of the process of writing this novel. This
epigraph has further advantages as that McEwan by using this part of
Austen`s novel encourages his reader to draw a comparison between
Atonement and Northanger Abbey, as well as, to apply Henry`s words ( the
main character in Austen's novel) to Atonement, to warn and guide the
readers on how should they view the narratives. Finally, to invite the reader
to consider more broadly the allusions and pastiches of authors from a
literary tradition. Yet, there are a lot of differences between the two texts, as
McEwan depicts war and rape in a more horrible way. McEwan`s
heroine and her action are far grimmer than those resulting from Cathrine's
Morland (Austen's heroine). This epigraph foreshadows what is coming.
Briony who is thirteen years-old with her rich imagination and deluded
perception is blamed for her lie. This blame becomes a devious way of
exposing the evil side of fiction, and draws the attention to the writers`
Another resemblance between
Atonement and Northanger Abbey is that
in the first section of Atonement, the events occur in a country house which
are presented in the traditional realistic manner. It seems that Austen
restricted her subject matter to a small world which is the middle class
Atonement, Tallis house in section one is considered a
traditionally realistic in addition to other elements like plot, characters, and
country house motif. But in the final section, this house is transferred to be a
hotel and is a given a new name, Tilney. Not only does McEwan in
Atonement use the epigraph quoted from Jane Austen`s Northanger Abbey,
but also the country house setting, the subtle challenge to class difference
and above all the ironic depiction of the dangers of the literary imagination;
however, McEwan throughout the book uses self-conscious mode of
narration. He introduces the theme of literary self-consciousness from the
opening page of the novel, though it gradually becomes very clear in the last
part of the novel. As Brian Finney notes, self-conscious narrative in this
novel is not limited to only the coda of the novel but it permeates the novel.
In other words, McEwan uses metafiction as a tool to differentiate and
distantiate text from world-- consistently works over the course of
McEwan is greatly inspired by Austen and her contemporaries. He keeps
thinking how to exploit or devise a heroine who could echo the process that
occurs in the mind of Cathrine Morland, so the result is Briony. In
Cathrine is fond of reading gothic novels, novels which
are full of mystery and horror mixing them with supernatural elements, wild
landscapes, dark forests, ruined abbeys, medieval castles, etc. Their
atmosphere is of doom and gloom, and are characterized by imaginable
straits, wicked tyrants, witches, and demons. Cathrine confuses fictive
writings with the real world. What is different here is that Briony does not
have a dominator like Henry Tileny in the case of Cathrine.
About Austen and her novel, McEwan says:
Catherine Morland, the heroine of Jane Austen`s Northanger Abbey, was a girl so
full of the delights of Gothic fiction that she causes havoc around her when she
imagines a perfectly innocent man to be capable of the most terrible things. For
many, many years I`ve been thinking how I might devise a hero or heroine who
could echo that process in Catherine Morland, but then go a step further and look
at, not the crime, but the process of atonement, and do it in writing--do it through
storytelling, I should say.
McEwan was influenced greatly by this novelist, to the degree he said that
Atonement is my Jane Austen novel. I didn`t have Northanger Abbey or
even Mansfield Park specifically in mind, but I did have a notion of a
country house and of some discrepancies beneath the civilized surface.
One might note that McEwan goes a step further than Austen by making
Briony who is a novelist and likes Austen herself, talks about her writing
early in her life. Briony writes her first work, at the age of thirteen The
Trials of Arabella, this work suggests Austen`s Juvenilia. McEwan
describes Atonement as my Jane Austen novel, my country house novel, my
one hot- day novel
and in an interview with Lynn, McEwan talks about
the influence of nineteenth-century writings on his work; besides, he adds
that Atonement could not have been written without all the experiments in
fiction and reflections on point of view
and by default, the movements of
modernism and postmodernism. He refers to famous names as Austen,
Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert as examples of
earlier authors who have influenced his character as a novelist.
Juliette Wells talks about Harriets' Margolis criticism of Austens'
intertextuality. Margolis goes further in her criticism as far as this epigraph
is concerned. She questions what Austen means for McEwan, how
Atonement affects the reader`s understanding of Austen`s novel. For a critic
like Ana-Karina Schneider, the exploitation of Jane Austen is instated, and
then deposed, as a model of psychological and social investigation. In
Austen`s novel, Henry Tilney blames Cathrine for making her extensive
gothic reading affect her judgment of reality. So, the similarity between the
two texts is in explicitly and implicitly. Karina goes further to link
Atonement with Mansfield Park in a house which is filled with children, the
ineffectual mother, and the absence of the father. The youngsters and their
behavior are affected by this absence and by the retreat caused by the illness
of the mother. Then, she compares this novel to Sense and Sensibility.
McEwan tackles a similar dilemma as the one between Fanny Price
(Austen's heroine) and the Bertrams (the father who is absent from his
family). Both texts thematize the two sisters' plot who struggle over the
same man although he belongs to another class. This critic wants to say that
McEwan admires Austen`s theme. Briony here is similar to Austen`s Elinor
(the heroine in Sense and Sensibility) who believes in her thoughts and
considers the virtuous conduct an arduous business. But she differs from
Elinor in that the latter has a spirit and passion of secrets. Briony, on the
other hand, is immature, unsociable, impetuous and abhorrent of
concealment. John Mullan talks about the links between Atonement and
Emma. He says that, in both texts there are long summer days that affect the
actions of these novels.
Schneider considers Austen`s intertextuality significant. She says:
The Austen intertext is severally productive: in the context of the late
twentieth-century increasing interest in the factual certainties and causality of
biography, the Bildungsromanand Künstlerroman has made a spectacular
come back. By claiming his heritage via the distaff line, McEwan is consistent
with earlier feminist tendencies in his work. At the same time, he debunks a
feminine tradition of sensationalism and irrationality stemming from an
inadequately informed mind. In this, too, he is consistent with a prevailing
move in his work in favour of rationalism, science and speculative thinking.
The Trials of Arabella, has the plot and style of Austen`s
Juvenilia. Although Briony is away from the world of fantasy because of her
lack of the sense of humor and fine discernment, she admits that her writings
are forms of showing off meant to ingratiate her with her family. This
recognition will endear the reader, in good Austenite control-of-distance
fashion. In addition to this, there is another similarity, it is the narrative
method. In the case of Austen, the anticipatory markers between McEwan
and Austen indicate that the story will take, but almost they are concealed by
blank and unobtrusive, mildly ironical and consistently sympathetic
narrative voice of the first part. The achievement is for both, but it is for
McEwan more than Austen:
this elegant unobtrusiveness of the narrative voice, which half obscures the very
clever metafictional comment that McEwan insinuates throughout. Despite the
text`s thematic self-referentiality, in Part one especially, the style inclines
towards transparency and reticence, growing organically and appropriately out
of the narrative of normality it purports to mediate. In the second and third
sections, as events are precipitated by the urgency of war, the narrative surface
becomes more jagged, revealing a multi-layered texture of clashing time frames
Juvenilia is Austen`s writings in her childhood and youth, she puts them in
three manuscripts under the titles, volume the first, volume the second, and
volume the third. It is written between 1787 and 1793. They differ from her
long novels. Juvenilia consists of twenty seven items in three notebooks and
is less than half of two of her novels. Juvenilia also has chapters without
numbers and different in length. Volume the first has sixteen short pieces,
nine in the second, including substantial ones as Love and Friendship` and
Lesley Castle`. While volume the third has only two. Evelyn` and
Catharine or the Bower`. Another difference between Juvenilia and her
novels is that Juvenilia has a dedication to Austen`s family members and
close friends. This dedication is considered a rather different affair. She
wants to dedicate what she chooses to whom she chooses in a formulaic
fashion, but in her own exuberant and inventive prose. There is no original
draft of Austen`s first writing, only these transcriptions in three notebooks.
They cover the period from when she was eleven to seventeen year old.
In the first section of
Atonement, the style is "transparency and
, while in the second and third sections, it becomes "jagged"
imitate the urgency of war. The complex narrative represents human
complexity. McEwan borrows themes and styles from Austen and indirectly
provides a comment, to deploy them, to an end of his own that is consistent
with the world he shows in Atonement, for example feminism.
Austen in Juvenilia, is not only affected by her pervious readings, but
also reconciles herself to attitudes without taking positions her family might
oppose, like any child writer. She imposes order through her writings on a
disturbing and chaotic world.
Writing makes the child control the world
around him and neglects his unhappy family situations. Such writings give
the child writer power other children do not have. The same thing applies to
Briony when she writes her first play. She wants to control the world around
McEwan clarifies this by stating that she wants to create a world of
five pages to exercise her principle of justice. About this play the narrator
[a]t some moments chilling, at others desperately sad(3) and says a
tale of the heart(3), she weaves in reckless passion,(3) and a prince in
disguise(3). All these things are to be found in Austen`s Juvenilia too, but
Austen makes all her plays comedies: "She never catches us with
unconscious slippage on her part--instead, her satiric and comic vision
remains steady; it is we who blink.
Austen writes Juvenilia not for publication, but for entertaining her
family. She was influenced by 18
century satirical writers like Henry
Fielding, specially his political plays, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. She
admired also Richardson, at the same time, she loved Fielding's satire of
Pamela, Shamela. She aimed at entertaining her family when reading her
lampoons. At the same time, she used satire and burlesque as a literary
medium for tackling moral and social hypocrisy. She was very similar to
Feilding in that she had a sharp eye for the absurdities and limitations of
fiction at her early age. She was similar to Fielding also in that she did not
limit herself to literary conventions. Her characters are not heroic, they have
mistakes and flaws. In Juvenilia, she appears as a comic writer, but her
comedy is for a laugh and criticism at the same time. It has a variety of
genres (stories, plays, verses, and moral fragments). It is characterized by
having little in common with the restrained and realistic society. Instead, it
consists of expressionistic tales of a sexual misdemeanor of female
drunkenness and violence. It is also characterized by exaggerated sentiment
and absurd adventures. This shows how her early reading frames her
character as a writer.
In the prologue to her play, Briony uses words like spontaneous,
extrinsic, evanesce (15)which are not quite right, but not fully wrong. She
is like McEwan and Austen themselves. This indicates the power of youthful
Alexander and Juliet McMaster say about this point:
spelling mistakes, infelicities of style, language and the like... illogical
assumption that adult endeavors are somehow intrinsically better` than
Briony is a fictionalized version of Austen. By doing so,
McEwan makes the reader imagine what Austen might have said in girlhood
and maturity about her youthful compositions. This leads the reader to focus
on the final section, London 1999, when Briony talks about her first
writings: I knew the words were mine, but I barely remembered them...
less than ten minutes it was over. In memory distorted by a child`s sense of
time, it had always seemed the length of a Shakespeare play. (347)
Briony`s aim behind this play is to give lesson to her brother, to stop his
trivial affairs with girlfriends, Love which did not build a foundation on
good sense was doomed.(3) The play is about Arabella who contracts
Cholera when she swims at sea with her lover the prince. As a result she is
deserted by her family, her lover, and everybody else. She is treated by the
poor doctor. This time she chooses this man to marry and rejoins her
With Briony`s play, there is intertextuality to Samuel Richardson`s
Clarissa. Arabella is the name of Briony`s heroine and is Clarissa`s sister in
McEwan`s choice of this name is not accidental, but of
artistic value. First it reminds the reader of this novel, second it reminds
them of the treatment of sentiment. In addition,
Richardson`s Clarissa is
mentioned by Cecilia. When she graduates from Cambridge, she reads it to
entertain herself, but she does not enjoy this reading and describes it as
"boring."(24) Instead of Richardson, she prefers Feilding. In her interest in
Feilding over Richardson, one may read some sexual implicit massages,
since Feilding`s works contain a taste of blood and the sensual. Her
preference Feilding also carries both cultural, ideological and sexual
implications. She thinks that Rubbie understands these codes:
She felt she had said something stupid. Robbie was looking away across the park
and the cows toward the oak wood that lined the river valley, the wood she had run
through that morning. He might be thinking she was talking to him in code,
suggestively conveying her taste for the full-blooded and sensual. That was a
mistake, of course, and she was discomfited and had no idea how to put him
Moreover, her preference of Fielding over Richardson is because
Fielding engages his reader to help shaping the meaning of the novel, while
Richardson warns his reader of something specific. McEwan adapts
Fielding`s techniques, and Cecilia`s preference indicates McEwan`s
viewpoint and the expectations that he wants his reader to have about his
novel. Fielding focuses on the plot, this means that Cecilia is concerned with
formal design while Richardson is concerned with psychological realism. By
presenting the two opposite views of Rubbie and Cecilia and considering
them as readers, this gives hints that this novel has a multiplicity of
interpretations. This means also that McEwan suggests interpretive option in
realistic text. The reader has two choices in his reading, either read it as a
part of literary tradition, or as an independent unity.
Briony`s heroine Arabella shares resemblance with another 18
fiction heroine. She resembles the heroine of Charlotte Lennox`s novel The
Female Quixote, or The Adventures of Arabella (1752). She is a wielder of
power, as a young heiress, but her choice of reading materials gives her a
poor grasp of the contemporary English reality. She could not distinguish
between fiction and reality, so, misinterprets the events around her. The
similarity between McEwan`s heroine and Lennox`s heroine
Geoff Dyer mentions another intertextuality in Atonement. This time the
reference is to John Fowels' The French Lieutenant Woman (1969). The
final section of Atonement highlights the fictionality of this work. In this
section, Briony emphasizes that this is a work of fiction. She is the novelist
and the God of this work, and she alone determines the end of this work. She
challenges the reader`s expectation as far as Rubbie and Cecilia's reunion.
This couple is reunited in the novel and Briony writes about them, but in
reality, they are not because they die before the reunion. She drags the
readers out of the realist dream and reminds them that the author decides the
end. So, as one might see, there are two ends, one by McEwan, and the other
John Fowels (1926-2005) is an English novelist who adapts a humanistic
tradition. He is an imaginative historian environmentalist, and a student of
natural history. The story of The French Lieutenant Woman takes place in
England in 1867. Its main characters are Charles Smithson, who is a
Victorian gentleman, paleontologist and a Darwinist, and his fiancée
Ernetina Freeman who is the draper`s daughter. She is a conventionalist
Victorian lady. They meet a strange woman, Sarah Woodruff, she is the
French lieutenant`s woman who is a governess, outcast, and the opposite of
Emetina, a modernist. She is jilted by the French lieutenant. Charles is
attracted greatly towards Sarah. Now he is in a difficult situation, between
the duty towards his family and fiancée on the one hand, and his beloved on
the other. His uncle marries an old rich widow. Charles now thinks about the
heritage since he is the only inheritor of his uncle. Fowels suggests three
ends for his novel. The first end is that Charles accepts his father`s
suggestion to enter the world of business and marries Erinistena (this end
suits the Victorian reader). The second end is in which Charles keeps
searching for Sarah for two years, finally he finds her where she gives birth
to his daughter, the three reunited and live happily (this end pleases the
earlytwentieth century reader). While the third end is that when Charlis
finds Sarah after two years of absence, she does not reveal their daughter,
and suggests a platonic relation. He rejects this and still walks away alone in
anguish (this end pleases the contemporary reader).
The comparison between Fowles' and McEwan`s novels is made by Dyer,
when he argues that there is an overlap between the two texts:
While John Fowles was working on The French Lieutenant's Woman, he reminded
himself that this was not a book that one of the Victorian novelists forgot to write
but, perhaps, one that they had failed to write. A similar impulse underwrites
Atonement. It is less about a novelist harking nostalgically back to the consoling
uncertainties of the past than it is about creatively extending and hauling a defining
part of the British literary tradition up to and into the twenty-first century.
In both cases there are multiple ends, one is happy, while the other is not.
The reader is asked to choose between them. The happy end in Fowel`s
novel is because the Victorian novelists respond to the pressure to provide
which is inauthentic, while modern fiction prefers an ending that reflects the
openness of the experience.
It seems that Fowels gives freedom to his reader to choose the suitable
end. Additionally, he gives freedom to his characters who have autonomy.
He says about this:
"In my novels, I am the producer, director, and all the
actors; I photograph it ... there is vanity about it, a wish to play a
He adds also we [contemporary writers] are no longer the gods
of the Victorian image, omniscient and decreeing; but in the new theological
image, with freedom our first principle, not authority.
By godgame, he
means digressions, comments, biographical material but not decision-
making for his characters, that is why all his characters have to be
autonomous and free from his control.
By mixing history with fiction and
narrating them in a new way, McEwan likes Fowels in his novel where
Fowels juxtaposes the past and fiction too. In terms of history and mystery,
Atonement has similarity to The French Lieutenant Woman. In London
1999, one is supposed to stop at these points. Briony omnisciently
compares herself to god. She borrows Joyce`s view, The artist, like the God
of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork,
invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
In addition to these intertextualities, there is an implied reference to
Margaret Atwoods' The Blind Assassin (2000). McEwan gives Briony a
degree of narrative freedom in his narrative. Only at the end of the novel, the
reader knows that she is the writer of this story. In Atwood`s novel, the same
technique appears. At the beginning of her novel, the reader thinks that
Laura is the writer, but near the end, the reader discovers that Laura`s sister
is the author who waits fifty years to tell us the reason behind her sister
suicide. Both novels share the same characterization, setting, plot, and
narrative technique. They involve tricks of narration, the application of the
During part two, Cecilia is still in contact with Rubbie despite his arrest.
Their communication is via letters but in the form of code. This is to
symbolize their love and to bypass the censor during his time in prison. They
use a famous literary and legendary figures like
Tristan and Isolde, the Duke
Orsino and Olivia (and Malvolio too), Troilus and Criseyde, Mr Knightly
and Emma, Venus and Adonis, Turner and Tallis. The use of such names
indicates the literary status of the couple, and reminds the reader that this is a
love story as Briony classifies the couple as belonging to the realm of
romantic lovers. Being romantic lovers, they suffer a great deal and are
separated by many obstacles such as the class system, prison, the war, but all
this could not stop their love and only death divides them.
Tristan and Isolde is a story related to Arthurian legend. They belong to
two different kingdoms. He is Irish, while she belongs to Cornwall. Because
of the war between their kingdoms, their relation does not end with
marriage, but with the death of the lovers. It seems that it foreshadows the
ends of Rubbie and Cecilia`s relation. While the love story between Orsino
and Olivia is to be found in Shakespeare`s Twelfth Night. It is between the
Duke of Illyri and the rich lady Olivia who mourns over her brother`s death.
That is why he asks the aid of another person Cesario who works in the
Orsino castle as a man while in reality she is a woman called Viola who is
separated from her twin brother in a shipwreck. What happed is that Olivia
falls in love with Cesario, Viola falls in love with Orisino. The reader may
guess the similarity between this play and Atonement in terms of the love
It should be mentioned here that Rubbie plays the role of Malvolio in a
college production of Twelfth Night. Malvolio is Olivio`s servent. He is self-
centered, stiff and self-promoting. He hates jokes and fun, describes every
funny thing as silly. The others ridicule him and he becomes the subject of
their tricks. He easily falls in the trap. They give him a false letter saying
that Olivia loves him and wants him to wear yellow stocks, which she
actually hates. This foreshadows Rubbie`s faith when he falls into Briony`s
Intertextual references are compared to imagery in Shakespeare`s plays.
Intertextuality is indeed, like imagery in Shakespeare`s plays, not simply a
decoration but something which consistently conveys
meaning, or comes into a dialogic communication with the text, i.e.,
transforms it or subverts it. Robbie Turner first compares himself to
Malvolio. Then, he likens himself to Mellors in Lawrence`s Lady
Chatterley's Lover. The impact of Lawrence`s text upon Robbie is very clear
as it is seen shaping the love ethics of the sexual scene between Cecilia and
Robbie in the library. Concerning the relation between this couple, one can
touch Lawrence views of traditional Romantic identification. Since in
childhood they are as close as a brother and a sister and they are attracted to
each other sexually. By this implied reference to Lawrence, love is
considered an impersonal power by which people are swept along against
their wills, despite Cecilia who has not read Lawrence`s expression, as far as
the text of this novel is concerned.
While the story of Troilus and Criseyde is related to the 12
century in a
French poem, its historical events are related to the Trojan War. Then
Chaucer writes a poem about it. Troilus is the prince of Troy who loves a
lady called Criseyde. With the aid of his friend who is her uncle Pandarus,
Triolus wins her heart. Later on, she is sent to Greece to be reunited with her
father. There she falls in love with Diomede. Troilus now is broken hearted
and enters battle against Greece where he is killed.
Geff Dyer discusses the similarity between McEwan, Virginia Woolf,
and D. H. Lawrence. Each of them demonstrates the transformation of
individuals. According to him, Woolf and Lawrence pave the way for
McEwan by bringing this transformation about. Then McEwan has
developed this. Dyer says: McEwan uses his novel to show how this
subjective or interior transformation can now be seen to have interacted with
the larger march of twentieth-century.
He pays attention to the novels`
rather than its ''gimmicks''
. He focuses also on understanding
literature and how this is tied to the historical process of change. By echoing
such names and works, this leads the critics to see McEwan as having
capacity to give Briony the miracle, which is, always hoped for.
Briony's realization that she lives in the world with others is considered as
the moment when she became recognisably herself.(39) After she
contemplates her hands, she recognizes in their movements that
no stitching, no seam, and yet she knew that behind the smooth continuous
fabric was the real self--was it her soul?--which took the decision to cease
pretending, and gave the final command.(34) This statement reflects D.H.
Lawrence`s essay Why The Novel Matters (1925), exactly when he says:
Why should I look at my hand, as it so cleverly writes these words, and decide
that it is a mere nothing compared to the mind that directs it? Is there really any
huge difference between my hand and my brain? Or my mind? My hand is
alive, it flickers with a life of its own ...Why should I imagine that there is a
me which is more me than my hand is? Since my hand is absolutely alive, me
In part two of this novel, there are a lot of violent scenes and imagery.
One of them is when Rubbie is on the way to the beaches, there are many
unmotivated soldiers with nothing to do for hours on end (198). In
addition to the aim of this war never explained neither for soldier nor for the
reader, shortage of weapon, mutual recriminations among the troops, shots
everywhere, and suffering from the cowardice of their general Allies which
entails a general feeling of shame. Rubbie thinks about the the full
ignominy of the retreat (189). The same imagery and scene are represented
in Auden`s poem On the Memory of W. B. Yeats. Moreover, Cecilia uses
lines of this poem in one of her letters to Rubbie. Rubbie in return, uses
Auden`s verse. So, one can say, if section one is described as Austenseque,
this section could be described as Audenesque. This part of the novel
focuses on human suffering both on the personal level (Robbie) and on the
universal level (the other British soldiers as well as French and Flemish
citizens). In this retreat to Dunkirk, Robbie is followed by two corporals,
simple men who depend on him for his ability to read maps and speak
French. Robbie`s individual suffering is doubled because of the
impossibility to share the story of his life with them and his fear to reveal the
intense pain from an inflamed wound. They find themselves in the Flemish
speaking part of France now and like Icarus in Breughel`s painting which
Auden`s poem Musée des Beaux Arts invokes, Robbie feels abandoned in
these circumstances and exactly like in the painting [i]n a field ahead, he
saw a man and his collie dog walking behind a horse
drawn plough (221).
Completely the tenor, style and rhythm of the ending of Auden`s poems are
echoed in this section. Musée des Beaux Arts is the key intertext in this
part of the novel. In particular it is the last allusion during Robbie`s
nightmarish reverie before his death which in an artistic transformation of
Auden`s poem with which it is intertextually wovenwelds his private
suffering with the collective one and with the spectrality of history implying
moral responsibility in relation to historical events.
Julia Ellam talks about the influence of Virginia Woolf upon McEwan as
far as narrative point of view is concerned. McEwan does not trust the
omniscient point of view. This influence is very clear in this novel. Woolf
looms large over Briony`s decision to be an outstanding novelist as she
matures. There are other references to Woolf in this novel, the direct one is
when Briony says that she reads Woolf`s The Waves (1931) and mentions
something about it in the short story she sends to Horizon. Additionally, in
part 1, chapter 6, there are hallmarks of Woolf`s style when Briony`s mother
lies in bed with migraine and listens to the movement in the house.
Moreover, Ellam talks about the overlap between McEwan`s Atonement
and Henery James` What Maisie Knew (1897) and L.P. Hartly`s The Go
Between (1953). In all of these novels there is a child who becomes
implicated in an adult sexual relationship she does not quite understand. In
James` What Maisie Knew, the story is about the child Maisie whose parents
are divorced and who has to live between them. So, she has two
governesses, and her father marries her governess (Miss. Overmore) and her
mother marries the charming Sir Claude. Maisie discovers an illegal relation
between her stepparents. Finally, she makes her decision to stay with the
other governess Mrs. Wix. While Hartly`s The Go Between is about 13 years
old Leo Colston. He becomes a messenger carrying letters between his
friend`s old sister Mariam and her lover Viscount Trimingham. She asks Leo
to arrange a meeting with another man (Ted). He carries the letter and
guileslessly enters in the center of the scandalous affair. He becomes another
self after this situation.
Stanley Fish talks about the echo of John Milton in McEwans' novel. He
talks about temptation, falling, and asking for forgiveness. This could be
seen in the case of Briony, when she attempts to atone for her pervious sin.
Judith Seaboyer completes this criticism: The process of being drawn into
Briony's/McEwan's doubled narrative is a little like the process of being
seduced by the attractions of Miltons Satan, and thus, as Stanley Fish
argues, experiencing in small the seduction and fall of humanity.
About this novel and its writer, McEwan says in an interview with David
By the time I was at boarding schoola very unelite placeI was reading
very intensely. In fact, one of the books I read at the age of 12 that formed the
seed for Atonement was The Go-Between. I was completely taken by that,
partly because it was set in a country house and my boarding school was in a
Mary Helen Dupree talks about another implied intertextuality between
McEwan`s Atonement and the German playwright Heinrich Von Kleist`s
Der Zerbrochen Krug (The Broken Jug) (1808). A comedy that thematizes
the weakness of human nature. It is about a ceramic pitcher which is
decorated with scenes that are taken from Spanish history. This vase belongs
to a peasant woman. She describes the damaged objects before a court of
law. She reads the images on the vase. Scenes of trial and city under siege
are the play`s setting. This vase stands as a physical evidence in a trial set in
Holland when Netherlands was under the Spanish overoccupation. In
Atonement, the broken vase represents falls, especially of Briony, while in
Kleist`s play stands for the unreliable eyewitnesses of what occurs at the
scene of the vase`s destruction. In both cases, this object is linked to 18
century discourses of sympathy and virtue. Its damage indicates the conflict
between the perception, knowledge and belief. McEwan criticizes the British
upper class`s self-serving motivations and how the economic and social
relation have solidified in Tallis house. The vase destruction indicates
assault attempt and historical trauma (the Second World War).
Cecilia and Robbie's conflicts in that hot summer day is the material
reminder of that lingering power. This vase is related to the French village
that Cecilia`s Uncle Clem had saved during the war. Unfortunately, the vase
came back home but Uncle Clem did not, because he is killed shortly
before the armistice. This indicates, that it is not the aesthetic value of the
vase that makes it precious, but rather its status as a reminder of the family`s
heroism during WWI: The vase was respected not for Höroldt`s mastery of
polychrome enamels or the blue and
gold interlacing strapwork and foliage,
but for Uncle Clem, and the lives he had saved, the river he had crossed at
midnight, and his death just a week before the Armistice (23). That it is
broken on that day refers to the shattering of the Tallis family, and
consequently functions as a twofold symbols: first, the destruction of the
unity of the Tallis family and then of the fragile things.
In Atonement there is a link between individual actions, individual
responsibility and the course of history. This illustrates McEwan`s favorite
themes, that an incident triggers such a momentous chain of events. One can
add also Cecilia`s attempts at repairing the vase which foreshadows her
confrontation with Robbie. As a physical object, the vase is made in
Germany and is given by the French to an Englishman during WWI. This
can be read as a symbol of the fragility of peace in Europe after WWI. It is
broken into three pieces which is a metaphor of the conflicts silently
escalating in Europe (especially in Germany) during the thirties that will
finally lead to war and destruction. Similarly and on a personal level, the
quarrel between Cecilia and Robbie which leads to breaking this vase will
eventually lead to their death and the dissolution of the Tallis family.
McEwan employs intertextuality to famous figures even outside
Atonement`s pages. In a review by Adam Begley, he talks about a deleted
biographical note of this novel which is about Briony. The researcher thinks
he deleted it to add more interest and mystery to his work, to make his
readers search for the identity and personality of the main character.
About the author: Briony Tallis was born in Surrey in 1922, the daughter of a
senior civil servant. She attended Roedean School, and in 1940 trained to
become a nurse. Her wartime nursing experience provided the material for her
first novel, Alice Riding, published in 1948 and winner of that year`s Fitzrovia
Prize for fiction. Her second novel, Soho Solstice, was praised by Elizabeth
Bowen as a dark gem of psychological acuity, while Graham Greene
described her as one of the more interesting talents to have emerged since the
war. Other novels and short-story collections consolidated her reputation
during the fifties. In 1962 she published A Barn in Steventon, a study of
domestic theatricals in Jane Austen`s childhood. Tallis`s sixth novel, The
Ducking Stool, was a best-seller in 1965 and was made into a successful film
starring Julie Christie. Thereafter, Briony Tallis`s reputation went into a
decline, until the Virago imprint made her work available to a younger
generation in the late seventies. She died in July 2001.
First, McEwan omits Briony's literary biography to conform to the
technique of his period. One of prominent feature of postmodern text is the
playfulness and ambiguity rather than clarity and seriousness. Second, He
also wants to put her under more focus and provides the reader with
information that are not mention in the novel.
Briony wants to write a story she has already experienced, but she
hesitates doing this due to a lack of embodied response which then produces
anxious sense of responsibility, originality, and uncertainty. Briony
experiences this when she positions herself as the only authority of her novel
and the result is that the writer can be a god like creator. The same thing
happens with Virginia Woolf with fictional writer like Bernard (the narrator
and character in The Waves who wants to be novelist) when Bernard feels
very strongly the charge of willful arbitrariness that comes with this.
Sometimes Briony is completely controlled by her imagination. This
occurs in the mountain scene, when she sees it she imagines what she
watches as a teller not as an observer of this story. She imagines a new kind
She could write the scene three times over, from three points of view; her
excitement was in the prospect of freedom, of being delivered from the
cumbrous struggle between good and bad, heroes and villains. None of these
three was bad, nor were they particularly good. She need not judge. There did
not have to be a moral. She need only show separate minds, as alive as her
own, struggling with the idea that other minds were equally alive. It wasn`t
only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion
and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth
that other people are as real as you. And only in a story could you enter these
different minds and show how they had an equal value. That was the only
moral a story need have. (38)
Briony`s case is similar to that of George Eliot, when the latter tries to get
free of her imaginary, oralistic reader. Briony also is similar to Virginia
Woolf when the latter tries to get free of the tyrannical requirements in
Modern Fiction`. Additionally, Briony seems to be affected by Woolf
greatly. In addition to Woolf`s essay Modern Fiction`(1921), there are
allusions to Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Brown`, and The Waves.
about her first writings and is impressed by the the pure geometry and the
defining uncertainty which reflected, she thought, a modern sensibility. The
age of clear answers was over. So was the age of characters and plots.
(265)This appears clearly in her speech:
The very concept of character was founded on errors that modern Psychology had
exposed. Plots too were like rusted machinery whose wheels would no longer turn.
A modern novelist could no more write characters and plots than a modern
composer could a Mozart symphony. It was thought, perception, sensations that
interested her, the conscious mind as a river through time. (265)
She thinks that the great transformation that occurs to the human nature can
be captured by fiction. To enter a mind and show it at work, or being
worked on, and to do this within a symmetrical design--this would be an
In terms of her understanding of Woolf, Brionys rejection of
character` deletes the vary human elements that Woolf believes narrative
should convey. So, Briony believes in technique of telling for the sake of
technique, for producing modern experience
, while the modernist
aesthetic focuses on thought
of conscious mind
to engaged identification and empathy which are
exclusively constructed (at least in the case of Woolf) in an identifiable story
of a character. Briony struggles over this question, Was everyone else
really as alive as she was?(34) Nonetheless, Briony the novelist resolves
this dilemma. The answer has become her calling as a writer: she must make
all of these characters as alive as she is
even those who did not survive
the story. In fact, the hidden intention behind Brionys rejection of character
and plot, and her tendency to the narrative techniques is to cover her crime
of accusing Robbie of raping Lola within the text. In other words, this means
that the ideology of modernism (especially its prioritization of stylistic
innovation) has hidden moral consequences. That is why she adapts this
style which has ethical implication. She later acknowledges:
The interminable pages about light and stone and water, a narrative split between
three different points of view, the hovering stillness of nothing much seeming to
happen-none of this could conceal her cowardice. Did she really think she could
hide behind some borrowed notions of modern writing, and drown her guilt in a
stream three streams! of consciousness? (302).
This indicates that Briony is aware of changes that occur in the twentieth
century concerning the function of the novel. According to the realist, the
novel is a tool to reproduce reality. But Briony does not believe in this.
Instead, she introduces herself as the author who is as powerful as the
creator in creating characters and events. This indicates that she does not
write Atonement in order to explain or to express reality, or to respect the
truth or to translate what exists before or outside it, not to inform the reader
about reality but to constitute reality. In other words, to create an aesthetic
world which exists separately from the real world, and does not necessarily
correspond to it. This is her way of seeking atonement through constructing
her fictional world.
The idea of entering the mind and showing its operations as opposite to
telling the reader about these operations resembles Woolf`s two novels Mrs.
Dallaway and To The Light House. Woolf in Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Brown`
discusses the state and the crisis of modern fiction and charges Georgian and
Edwardian novelists. In this essay, she focuses on the problem of character
making, and the failure of Georgian writers concerning this point. She
argues that the representation of characters is essential to the novel as a
genre. According to her, the novel is a machine for character creation. She
criticizes the creation of unbelievable characters whom Edwardian writers
show every detail of their lives. This detailed explanation is the opposite of
the Victorian novel which is characterized by vividness and the reality of the
characters. This is the change that takes place in English novel between the
two generations. Like Briony, characters for Woolf are important outside
and inside fiction. For Woolf, charactermaking is not a function of any
particular period of literary history, but it is an inherent feature of the genre.
Portraying character is central but understanding of character changes.
Woolf`s The Waves is considered a silent novel. There is no dialogue,
no author comments or descriptions. Its six main characters are represented
through their interior monologues. While the other two novels Mrs.
Dallways and To The Light House are considered as a stream of
consciousness novels. In her essay Modern Fiction, Woolf criticizes the
contemporary writers of her age describing them as "materialists"
talks about how those writers become slaves and do not have free will to
write. They no longer write for pleasure but for money in accordance with
the editor`s view and the publisher`s view. She calls them "tyrants":
The writer seems constrained, not by his own free will but by some powerful and
unscrupulous tyrant who has him in thrall, to provide a plot, to provide a comedy,
tragedy, love interest, and an air of probability embalming the whole so impeccable
that if all his figures were to come to life they would find themselves dressed down
to the last button of their coast in the fashion of the hour.
The result is trivial writing, wasting their skills on unimportant things. Such
kind of writing is restricted to the conventions and rules, so it does not have
the capacity to be free. Then, Woolf praises Russian writers specially Anton
Chekov for being free in their writings. For her, literature is supposed to deal
with human feelings and emotions, not with the conventions and rules of
Another important reference the reader might stop at it is to a real editor,
Cyril Connolly (1903-1974). He is a British novelist, literary and social
critic who edited a magazine entitled Horizon. Briony sends him many
letters and short stories, he answers her in one long letter. Though he praises
her use of imagery and a flow of thought but it is a letter of rejection:
Something unique and unexplained is caught. However, we wondered whether it
owed a little too much to the techniques of Mrs. Woolf. The crystalline present
moment is of course a worthy subject in itself especially for poetry; it allows a
writer to show his gifts, delve into mysteries of perception, present a stylized
version of thought processes, permit the vagaries and unpredictability of the private
self to be explored and so on. Who can doubt the value of this experimentation?
However, such writing can become precious when there is no sense of forward
movement. Put the other way round, our attention would have been held even more
effectively had there been an underlying pull of simple narrative. Development is
required... Your most sophisticated readers might be well up on the latest
Bergsonian theories of consciousness, but I`m sure they retain a childlike desire to
be told a story, to be held in suspense, to know what happens. ... Simply put, you
need the backbone of a story. It may interest you to know that one of your avid
readers was Mrs. Elizabeth Bowen. She picked up the bundle of typescript in an
idle moment while passing through this office on her way to luncheon, asked to
take it home to read, and finished it that afternoon. (294, 296).
By this rejection, the epigraph of this novel reaches its wight, as Tilney asks
Cathrine to stop her enchantment with imagination and fantasy for gothic
stories. Connolly criticizes Briony for owing too much to the techniques of
Mrs Woolf(294) Indeed the real Cyril Connolly is a confessed anti-
Bloomsbury figure who believes that Woolf's characters are "lifeless
anatomical slices, conceived all in the same mood, unreal creations of
and her prose is "lush feminine Keatsian familiarity that
comes from being sensually too at home in the world."
reproduces the real Connolly`s standpoint that a writer influenced by
Woolf should represent the world of which she is a part. Moreover, C. C.
(abbreviation of Cyril Connolly) makes other suggestions like developing of
a story by adding the underlying pull of simple narrative(295) developing
her main characters to portray rich psychological perspectives; tweaking
events so that young Briony does not realize the vase has been broken in
order to heighten her confusion over the fountain scene. Connolly`s letter
thus connotes Briony`s transitional poetics and gives an insight into the
young Briony`s Two Figures as an underdone modern novella, which is
pushed forward through Connolly`s advice to become a higher modernist
work. Referring to Brian G. McHale`s definition of the postmodernism
which is a shift from the epistemological preoccupations of modernism
toward an ontological unhinging. Richard Robinson argues that Connolly's
letter brings just such an ontological jolt, violating the boundaries between
real and fictional worlds well before the metafictional adjunct of the
The rape scene is a central scene in Atonement. Its events and its
aftermath are of significance. The scene draws the attention of the reader to
E. M. Foster`s A Passage to India (1924). The scene in Foster's novel stirred
many controversies since the time of its publication.
between the two texts are many. In both texts, there is a description of the
rape scene and its aftermath. Similarity is also, found between Adela and
Briony. Both commit the same mistake by accusing an innocent man. Aziz
and Rubbie are also similar, are less likely to be believed, and are victims of
discrimination. The only difference between the two is that Aziz is
prejudiced by racial discrimination while Rubbie is a victim of class
Part of Atonement`s greatness is the employment of intertextuality. By
using it, McEwan sheds light upon its writer`s and reader`s creativity, since
the reader holds the final power of interpretation and judgment. K. D`Angelo
tackles an important point. Who has the final power of interpretation, the
author or the reader? In other words, do the intertextulities that appear in this
novel instruct and direct the correct reading, or does the reader determine
their own authoritative meaning of the text? D`Angelo observes that
McEwan employs intertextuality in his novel to show his knowledge of
literary past. In order to understand Atonement, the reader must understand
the text`s intertextual references.
Atonement involves many intertextualities (implicit and explicit) to
famous figures and works. McEwan employs it to warn the reader of the
danger of reading and misreading specially for children. At the same time,
this novel is an invitation for reading the literary heritage.
Julie Ellam, Ian McEwan's Atonement (London: Library of Congress, 2009), 2, 8.
Ibid. 12; Natasha Alden, Words of War, War of Words: Atonement and the
Question of Plagiarism In Ian McEwan: Contemporary Critical Perspectives,
ed.2edition, edited by Sebastian Groes (London: Cotinuum, 2008), 57.
Brian W. Shaffer, ed., The Encyclopedia of Twentieth- Century Fiction:
Twentieth- Century British and Irish Fiction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2011),
Hernione Lee, If your memories serve you well The Guardian (Sunday, 23
Frank Kermode, Point of View London Review of Books, Volume No.23, Issue
No. 19(4 October 2001).
Ibid.; Ellam, 27; Martin Jacobi, Who Killed Robbie and Cecilia: Reading and
Misreading Ian McEwan`s Atonement Critique, Vol. 52, no. 1 (Taylor & Francis Group,
LLC, 2011): 61.
Ian McEwan, Atonement (New York: Nan A. Talese Double Day, 2001), 179.
subsequent quotations are to this edition and will be given parenthetically henceforward
Ibid, 31; Juliette Wells, Shades of Austen in Ian McEwan`s Atonement"
, (accessed 3/5/2016).
Peter Childs, ed., The Fiction of Ian McEwan (Houndmills: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2006),143, quoted in Seyed Javad Habibi, Distrust in Realism and
Modernism: A Metafictional Detour in Ian McEwan`s Atonement" International
Conference on English Language and Literature (Hyderabad: January 19 -20, 2013): 1,
, (accessed 1/5/2016).
Jie Han and Pei Wang, The Experimental Techniques in Ian McEwan`s Atonement"
Open Journal of Social Sciences, (2015) : 166
http:// www. scirp. org/ journal /jsshttp://
(accessed 7/5/2016); Pernille Brøndsted Nielsen,
The Making of Fiction in Ian McEwan`s Atonement: An Analysis and Interpretation of
the Novel with a Focus on Postmodern Themes and Strategies, (Master Thesis: Aalborg
University, May 28, 2015), 2,
http :// projekter. aau.dk/ projekter/ files/ 213055330/
, (accessed 19/5/2016);
Bran Nicol, The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2009), 99-100.
Linda Hutcheon introduces the term
'Histeriographic metafiction' in A Poetics of Postmodernism in 1988. This kind of
metafiction combines descriptive and analytical aspects. Mixing historical realism with
metafictional qualities is to suggest that to rewrite or reproduce the past in both fiction
and history is to open it up to the present, to prevent it from being conclusive and
teleological, Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction
(New York: Routledge, 1988), 110; Peter Melville Logan, ed. et al., The Encyclopedia of
the Novel, vol.1 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2011): 514.
Elsa Cavalié, England [is] a Long Way off: Historical and Ethical Elsewhere
in Ian McEwan`s Atonement Etudes Britanniques Contemporaines 37, (Université de
Toulouse, 2009): 2,
http:// www. academia. edu/ 11011902/_ England
, (accessed 20/5/2016).
Stefanie Albers and Torsten Caeners, The Poetics and Aesthetics of Ian
McEwan`s Atonement English Studies Vol. 90, No. 6 (December 2009): 708,
Ibid : 66.
Ibid. : 62.
Nielsen: 2, 29, 33-34; Jie Han and Zhenli Wang, Postmodern Strategies in Ian
McEwan`s Major Novels Scientific Research, (October2014):137-138.
, (accessed 20/5/2016).
J.A. Cuddon, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
(Cambridge: The Penguin Books, 1998), 279. In this dictionary, epigraph has four
meanings, it is either an inscription on a statue, stone, or building, or the writing legend
on a coin, or a quotation on the title page of a book, or a motto that heads a new section
or paragraph; McEwan, VII.
Wells: 103; David K. O`Hara, Briony`s Being-For: Metafictional Narrative
Ethics in Ian McEwan`s Atonement
vol. 52, no. 1 (Taylor & Francis Group
LLC, 2011): 85; Laura Bulger, McEwan's and Wright's Flight from Dunkirk"
American Studies Journal. 3rd series, (2012): 151,
, (accessed 20/5/2016).
Han and Wang, (October2014): 138; Habibi: 2.
Nakajima Ayaka, Disordering Fiction`s Order Irony Underneath Homage in Ian
, OUKA: 76,
Jonathan Noakes and Margaret Reynolds, Ian McEwan: The Child in Time,
Enduring Love, Atonement (London: Vintage, 2002), 20, quoted in Wells: 102.
Jeff Giles, Luminous Novel from Dark Master. News week, (18March 2002): 62,
quoted in Wells: 102.
Kate Kellaway, At Home with His Worries. Guardian (23Jun 2011), quoted in
David Lynn and Ian McEwan,A Conversation with Ian McEwan. The Kenyon
Review (2007): 51, quoted in Habibi: 1.
Wells: 102; Habibi: 1.
Wells:102,103, 111; Ana-Karina Schneider, Atonement: A Case of Traumatic
American, British and Canadian Studies. Volume 12,
June 2009): 70, 71,
Schneider: 71, 72.
Ibid. : 72.
Peter Sabor, Brotherly and Sisterly Dedications in Jane Austen`s Juvenilia
Persuasions, No. 31: 33-34,
http:// www. jasna.org/ persuasions/ printed/ number31/
sabor.pdf, (accessed 5/6/2016)
; Janet Todd, ed., The Cambridge Edition of the Works of
Jane Austen juvenilia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), xxiv.
Ibid. :71, 73.
Paula Byrne, Jane Austen and Satire The Oxonian Review, issue 24 (
March, 2014), http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/jane-austen-and-satire/, (accessed
20/5/2016); Kathryn Sutherland, Jane Austen`s Juvenilia British Library,
, (accessed 8/ 6/
Christine Alexander and Juliet McMaster, Defining and Representing Literary
Juvenilia The Child Writer from Austen to Woolf (Cambridge: CUP, 2005): 70,
Han and Wang, (2014): 138.
Zak Watson, Desire and Genre in The Female Quixote Academia: 1
, (accessed 20/5/2016); Ibid.
James R. Baker, John Fowles, The Art of Fiction The Paris Review, (2016),
https:// www. theparisreview. org/ .../ 2415/john-fowles-the-art-of-fiction,(accessed
2016); Brunilda Reichmann Lemos, Fowels' Godgame: Characters and Conclusions in
The French Lieutenant`s Woman (Universidade Federal do Paraná, 1983):
Qiming Ji and Ming Li, Freedom in The French Lieutenant's Woman Academy
Publisher Vol. 3, No. 11, (November 2013): 2,
, (accessed 3/6/2016).
Geoff Dyer, Who`s Afraid of Influence?` Guardian (22 September, 2001),
quoted in Ellam, 18.
Margaret Reynolds and Jonathan Noakes,
: The Essential Guide to
Contemporary Literatura, Child in Time, Enduring Love, Atonement, (London: Vintage,
Fowels, "Notes on an unfinished novel" (New York, Harper & Row, 1969):
169, quoted in Lemos: 85.
J. Fowels, The French Lieutenant's Woman, (New York: New York American
Library, 1970), 82, quoted in Lemos: 86.
Lemos: 86; Han and Wang, (2014): 137; James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as
a Young Man, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1916), 122; Habibi: 9.
76; Ron Charles, Classic review: The Blind Assassin The Christian
Science Monitor, (January 25, 2009),
, (accessed 9/6/2016); Han and
Wang, (2014): 138.
Carolyn Emerick, Tristan and Isolde: A medieval story of love and betrayal,
Michael L. Hay, Roles, Wrongs, and Revenge: Malvolio in Twelfth Night The
Shakespeare Newsletter, No. 279 (Winter. 2009/2010): 1, http://www.academia.edu/10
Anna Grmelová, "About Suffering They Were Never Wrong, the Old Masters:
An Intertextual Reading of Ian McEwan`s Atonement" Litteraria Pragensia , Vol. 17,
Issue 34, (2007): 154-156, http:// search. ebscohost. com/ login.aspx? direct=
true&profile =ehost &scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl, (accessed 2/7/2016).
Archy Mimarius, Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-
, (accessed 2/7/2016).
Geoff Dyer, "Who`s Afraid of Influence?" Guardian, (22 September, 2001),
quoted in Ellam, 64.
: 23; D. H. Lawrence, Why the Novel Matters Modern Essays:
Studying Language Through Literature (Mumbai: Orient Longman, 1996): 82.
Ibid, 18; Mira Sethi, Henry James's Most Affecting Portrait" The Wall Street
Journal, (July 23 ,2010),
, (accessed 2/8/2016); Ali Smith, Rereading: The Go- Between by L.
P. Hartley The Guardian, (17 June 2011),
. (accessed 8/7/2016).
Ellam, 35; Judith Seaboyer, "Ian McEwan: Contemporary Realism and the
Novel of Ideas", in The Contemporary British Novel, edited by James Acheson and Sarah
C. E. Ross, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005): 23.
D. Wiegand, "Getting Rid of the Ghosts" San Francisco Chronicle, (10 March
2002): 2, quoted in Han and Wang (2014): 138.
Kenneth S. Calhoon, Sacrifice and the Semiotics of Power in Der Zerbrochene
Krug (n.p: EBSCO, Publishing, 2002): 230; Yannis Aggelakos, The "Broken Pitcher"
8/7/2016); Mary Helen Dupree, The Glazed Surface of Convections: the Motif of
Broken Jug in Kleist`s Der Zerbrochene Krug and Ian McEwan`s Atonement, in
Heinrich Von Kleist: Artistic and Political Legacies, Jeffery L. High and Sophia Clark,
(ed.), (Amsterdam: Rodopi B. V., 2013), 196, 204.
Ibid. : 4.
Tony E. Jackson, The Technology of the Novel Writing and Narrative in British
Fiction (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 174.
Ibid. 178, 182.
Kathleen D'Angelo, To Make a Novel: The Construction of a Critical
Readership in IanMcEwan's Atonement. Studies in the Novel (2009): 88, quoted in
Jackson, 183; Aleksandar Stevic, "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown" Modernism
Lab Essays, (2010),
research. yale.edu/ wiki/index. php/ %22 Mr.
Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction, McNeille, Andrew, Ed.,
(London: The Hogarth Press, 1984): 160
Francesco Mulas, Virginia Woolf`s The Waves: A novel of silence
Annalss, (2005): 75, orientamento.uniss.it/lingue/annali_file/vol_2/04_Mulas.pdf-,
F. González Gálvez, Modernism in Virginia Woolf "Modern
Fiction" & "A room for one's own" " Academia (April19
foronesown, (accessed 8/7/2016).
Lewis, Jeremy, "Cyril Connolly: A Life" (London: Jonathan Cape, 1997), 251,
quoted in Habibi: 3.
Jackson, 196; Encyclopedia of World Biography.2004, "Cyril Connolly
Sarah Tavassoli and Narges Mirzapour, Postcolonial-Feminist elements in E. M.
Forster's A Passage to India
Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.
17, no.3 (2014) : 71, hss-khazar.org/wp-content/.../5NEW-Nargize-Mirzapour-1-1.pdf,
(accessed 20/8/ 2016); Tal Donahue
, Orientalism in E. M. Forsters' A Passage to India
: 4, http:// www.academia.edu/7506964/Orientalism_in_E_M_Forstes,_
, (accessed 20/8/ 2016);
Han and Wang (2014):
Intertextuality in Sweet Tooth
Sweet Tooth is published in 2012. It is considered intermittently funny`
and sweeter than bitter. It is considered McEwan's mature novel. The main
character is Serena Frome. She is the protagonist and the narrator, and she is
the older daughter in her family. Her father is an Anglican bishop. She is
forced by her mother to study Math at Cambridge University. What she
enjoys most is reading fiction. Reading fiction is her way of not thinking
At Cambridge, she has a relation with her professor of history Tonny
Canning. Under the influence of this man, she enters the world of secret
service of MI5. When the couple is separated, Serena is hired by MI5 which
is a domestic security services in the UK. She thinks that she will be a junior
assistant office. But the matter is different, it deals with culture war. In
America, the CIA supplies money to the literary journal called Encounter to
encourage anti-communism among the intelligentsia. In a similar way,
Sweet Tooth` which is the name of an operation by MI5, supports the
British writers under the guise of a grant from a fake foundation.
McEwan in an interview with Barbara Chai, says about this:
There was a paradox at the heart of this, which was the reason they were doing this,
they wanted to show that the free world, especially the American free world, was
open to the very best of culture, and persuade left of center European intellectuals
that it was the American rather than the Soviet Union way that was best. All that
seemed to me fine, but the paradox was they did it all in secret. They wanted to
promote the values of an open society, but instead of just giving the money and
saying, Here, the U.S. government, or the National Foundation for the Arts wants to
promote your symphony, your magazine, because we think it`s a good thing, they
did it through the CIA.
At the beginning, Sweet Tooth` is an operation to which Serena is
assigned. It provides aid to the British authors with an anti-communist bias.
There, she meets Tom Haley, unknown novelist whose writings are not
published yet. Then, they fall in love. In this novel, McEwan tackles a
number of important issues. One of them is the rising of neoconservative
ideology which cuts art funding over the last four decades. He tackles also
the reading of Sweet Tooth` in reality in relation to CIA funding of the
Encounter journal. Sweet Tooth has a mixture of generic elements. It is not
easy to classify according to one genre. It is considered a spy novel. There is
harmony between espionage and fiction writing. It involves reflections of a
disgraced British secret service official. Serena loves literature and reviews
books for a school magazine. She also participates in a famous magazine
called ?Quis? in which she has a column. In this magazine, she praises
Aleksandr Solzhenitsy and describes him as anti-communist. Her affair with
Canning encourages her to read history and newspapers and gives her
opinion concerning the books and the news that she reads. Then, she
discovers that he is a recruit for intelligence services.
Because of her good knowledge of contemporary fiction, Serena is chosen
to be the agent in Sweet Tooth`. Haley is the first writer Serena seduces. So,
the reader meets his first collection of short stories. One interesting aspect of
the novel is the involvement of short stories. Despite her love to Haley,
Serena is supposed to keep her identity secret. If she reveals the secret, the
organization will fire her. But being a narrator, Serena tells her story in a
series of unexpected revelations. At the same time, this makes him
understand the matter in a different way. McEwan also depicts what is going
on in England during this period, the strikes, the IRA terror, the drug culture,
and the general sense of decline and fall. What distinguishes this novel from
McEwan`s other fiction is the tone. There is a degree of ugliness, this
appears in the genderized scorn for the female reader as well as McEwan`s
cool dismissal of the product of his own imagination.
It is worth mentioning here that McEwan published one of his novels in
Encounter, he ascribes it to Haley in this novel. About this McEwan says:
it was part of the novel, what I give to Tom Haley, From the Somerset Levels. It
was part of an abandoned novel of mine from the mid-70s. So when I gave him his
first novel that wins the Austen Prize, I thought, well it would be quite fun to give
him my abandoned novel that was published in Encounter. No one noticed this,
actually. They just remember it was collected into a volume called In Between the
Sheets published in 1978. So, yes, in that collection, you`ll see ther`s something
called Two Fragments, and Encounter published one of those fragments and
called it Without Blood.
At the end, their relation is in danger when Serena discovers that
Canning her ex-boss and lover is dying of cancer, and she discovers his true
identity as a soviet spy (double agent). At this time, Haley`s first novel
which is dystopian and anti-capitalist is published and has a great critical
success, but it is not well received by Sweet Tooth`. Haley discovers
Serena`s true identity, but he does not reveal this for her and keeps his affair
with her. He decides to turn their story into a novel called Sweet Tooth. It is
written from Serena`s perspective. McEwan`s Sweet Tooth ends happily
contrary to the reader expectation, where Haley asks Serena in a letter to
This novel has two ends. The reader does not know which one is the end
of Sweet Tooth. The first end is when Serena waits in the empty apartment
with Haley`s letter containing his declaration that he is a spy on the spy
without the latter`s knowledge. He is hired by MI5, to discover Serena's
loyalty. It contains also his marriage proposal for her. While the second end,
is when Serena reverses a version of Haley`s short story Probable
Adultery. At the beginning, Haley writes this story depending upon his
discussion with Serena concerning probability in Mathematics. It seems that
he does not understand what the discussion means. So, she decides to
reverse it. The discussion starts when he asks her to tell him an interesting
story of Mathematics since she studies it at Cambridge. She tells him about a
show program called Let`s Make a Deal, it is introduced by Monty Hall.
In this show, there are three boxes, inside one of them is a prize. Hall knows
where the prize is but the participant does not know. The participant should
choose one of the boxes. Hall will open one of the other boxes (empty one).
Then, he gives the participant two suggestions, either to stay on his decision
or change his first choice. Haley says that this makes no difference for him,
choosing one out of three or narrowing the possibility to one out of two. But
Serena corrects him saying that taking Hall`s second suggestion will double
the chances. But he insists that it is better to stay with his decision, rather
than changing it.
Sweet Tooth is a heavily intertextual novel. In addition to pastiche, its
intertextuality is divided into two parts, literary intertextuality and
autobiographical intertextuality. The novel contains twenty two chapters. It
begins with an epigraph taken from Timothy Garton Ash`s The File: "If only
I had met, on this search, a single clearly evil person."
Timothy Garton Ash
is a British historian
who is famous for reading the secret file kept on him by
the Stasi, the East German secret police. He meets the people who reported
him and the very policeman who is responsible. After the reunification of
Germany, the government decides to open the secret police records to every
person who is in them. Ash states that one out of every fifty adult East
German had a direct connection with the secret police. The Stasi tracks him
when he first crossed the border as a young student. His file was 325 pages
and included copies of his notes, photographed during a secret search of his
luggage, and even copies of references written by his Oxford tutors. In both
texts, McEwan`s novel and Ash`s book,
the reader encounters moral danger,
personal tragedy, and disappointment.
Sweet Tooth is a cold war spy thriller and a love story. McEwan says that
I was vaguely thinking of writing a memoir but then I thought I would
write a mutated version of memoir. Of course, one tends to drift into a novel.
It is only later on when you come to explain how it came about that you tend
to enforce a pattern on it.
Besides having an autobiographical aspect,
Sweet Tooth has a spy thriller aspect. The novel`s narrator is drafted by her
first lover into MI5 which is British internal counter intelligence. Now, her
present mission is to tempt Haley, making him believe that he is a good
writer with payment from a fake foundation. McEwan's depiction of this
organization as senseless bureaucracy which is full of petty jealousies and
outdated discrimination against women, comes from reading history, reading
Stella Rimington`s autobiography, in addition to reading John le Carre.
Stella Rimington is born in 1935 in London. She worked as an archivist first.
Then, she was first recruited into MI5 in 1967. While John le Carre (1931) is
one of England`s greatest spy novel authors. He is agent in MI6 in 1960.
Peter Chalupsky describes Sweet Tooth as a spy thriller with elements of
romance: the novel by far transcends the limits of this genre.
it is also
satire, parable, romance, war narrative, country house fiction, modernist
narrative and ecological fiction. Sweet Tooth is a self-reflective roman a clef
with the façade of spy thriller, and love story with happy end which is the
key to the text puzzle.
This novel is also a work of metafiction. It has a lot to do with literature
and the process of writing, appreciation of literature, and its criticism.
Serena prefers social realistic fiction and love stories. She does not like
novels which does not contain women characters. Haley on the other hand,
prefers experimental novelist like Jorge Luis Borges, John Barthes, and
Thomas Pynchon. McEwan wants to please them both. He says, I wanted to
write a novel that would please them both: social realism in which someone
says, 'Marry me' at the end and also a story that includes commentary on
what is about to happen and discusses the process of becoming a novel''.
Serena loves Jane Austin, Jacqueline Sussann, and Muriel Spark.
in reading could be summarized in the following quotation:
My needs were simple. I didn`t bother much with the mesor felicitous phrases and
skipped fine descriptions of weather, landscapes and interiors. I wanted characters I
could believe in, and I wanted to be made curious about what was to happen to them.
Generally, I preferred people to be falling in and out of love, but I didn`t mind so
much if they tried their hand at something else. It was vulgar to want it, but I liked
someone to say Marry me` by the end. Novels without female characters were a
lifeless desert. Conrad was beyond my consideration, as were most stories by Kipling
and Hemingway. Nor was I impressed by reputations. I read anything I saw lying
around. Pulp fiction, great literature and everything in between I gave them all the
same rough treatment. (9)
According to Serena, the typology of fiction is divided into two kinds,
novels that are built on realistic plot and characters, and those built on
artifice and literary pyrotechnics. She prefers the former:
I could gauge the quality of the writing by its accuracy, by the extent to which it
aligned with my own impressions, or improved upon them. I was fortunate that most
English writing of the time was in the form of undemanding social documentary. I
wasn`t impressed by those writers (they were spread between South and North
America) who infiltrated their own pages as part of the cast, determined to remind
the poor reader that all the characters and even they themselves were pure inventions
and that there was a difference between fiction and life. Or, to the contrary, to insist
that life was a fiction anyway. Only writers, I thought, were ever in danger of
confusing the two. I was a born empiricist. I believed that writers were paid to
pretend, and where appropriate should make use of the real world, the one we all
shared, to give plausibility to whatever they had made up. So, no tricksy haggling
over the limits of their art, no showing disloyalty to the reader by appearing to cross
and recross in disguise the borders of the imaginary. No room in the books I liked for
the double agent. That year I tried and discarded the authors that sophisticated
friends in Cambridge had pressed on me Borges and Barth, Pynchon and Cortázar
and Gaddis. Not an Englishman among them, I noted, and no women of any race. I
was rather like people of my parents` generation who not only disliked the taste and
smell of garlic, but distrusted all those who consumed it. (42)
The title Sweet Tooth refers to the secret operation Serena has joined. It
is considered a suspense tale, a novel of ideas, and a political meditation on
the dilemma of Britain in the 1970s. It is also a work of metafiction. In this
novel, McEwan breaks the fourth wall between the world of reality and the
world of fiction. The reader meets real British writers, living or dead like
Martin Amis (his friend and a novelist), Ian Hmilton (his mentor), and Tom
Mascher (his publisher and a head of the Jonathan Cape publishing house).
In addition, Haley`s story has the same themes of McEwan`s such as love
and betrayal (this indicates that McEwan mixes intertextual element with
metafictional elements), as if they are a comment on a larger tale this novel
tells. That betrayal covers the relation between Serena and Haley is in turn
echoes the relation between the reader and this novel. As if, McEwan wants
to visit his youth and his early fiction using such autobiographical
intertextuality. The title also indicates Serena`s taste in reading. She is
attracted by form and style, she is after human warmth, and she likes
romance and adventures. This apostrophizes the reader of the novel that
despite all the awareness and sophistication of postmodern techniques in
literature, the reader hungers to sweetness of conventional happy ends.
Part of the metafictionality in Sweet Tooth is that McEwan gives his
reader a role in this novel. Entering the novel`s intertextuality leads to
foreground his entanglement of the novel`s metafictionality. In other words,
by understanding the intertextuality of this novel, the reader is allowed to
glimpse the fascinating process of fiction constantly remarking itself. Not
only in this novel that McEwan tackles such a thing, but also in his essay
The God That Fails (2013). He talks about his ambivalence of fabulation,
stating that there is something trivial and unnecessary about the fiction of the
seventies. Yet, for McEwan, fiction still has generous knack of anointing
the microscopic lattice-work of consciousness, the small print of
Metafiction not only awakes existential anxiety, but also
arouses inside the writers the playfulness and curiosity of the details, which
for McEwan, is the way of restoring faith in fiction.
In this novel, the interaction between the author and the reader is highly
postmodern. The reader meets Martin Amis in a bar when he buys Haley a
triple scotch. Additionally, the reader meets George Orwell who is helped by
Sweet Tooth` to publish his Animal Far and 1984. Those stories form
narrative frames which enfold upon themselves and indicate the author-
Leo Robson considers this novel a form of riddle in which a number of
puzzles are classified by the final flourish. For him, it is a reward of
rereading, not of reading. Most of the meetings between Serena and Haley
involve discussions about writing and reading. Serena, for example, does not
bother about theme or felicitous phrases. Haley, in return, teaches her how to
read slowly and in depth, to reach what is in between the lines. For example,
he explains for her how Addlestrop by Edward Thomas is a war poem
though this word is not mentioned in it. Thomas is a British poet whose
poetry concerns with Great War with broader questions of human existence,
survival, memory, and home` which accounts for its continuing influence
today. His poetry is filled with images of deserted houses, darkness, and
encroaching forest. They also have a different views concerning William
Kotzwinkle`s Summer in the Secret Sea. For him, it is beautifully formed,
but for her, it is wise and sad.
Moreover, Haley praises The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark, but for
Serena it is a rather schematic. She prefers The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
and The Comforters and The Portobello Rood. What she loves in those
novels is that they are realistic and without tricks. Spark (1918-2006) is a
Scottish novelist. Her novel 1970 is considered impersonal. In all of her
fiction, and in this one in particular, there is a catholic convert, and a
neurasthenic woman who tends to her Catholicism to get rid of lonely grief.
Its main themes are alienation, isolation, and loss of spiritual values. While
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) is about post-war period.
fiction to reflect the responsibilities and limitations of fiction itself:
Now at last he could see that I was a reader and not just an empty headed girl who
cared nothing for poetry. ..., we talked books in a light and careless way, hardly
bothering to make a case when we disagreed, which was at every turn. He had no
time for my kind of women his hand moved past the Byatt and the Drabbles, past
Monica Dickens and Elizabeth Bowen, those novels I had inhabited so happily. He
found and praised Muriel Spark`s The Driver's Seat. I said I found it too schematic
and preferred The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. He nodded, but not in agreement, it
seemed, more like a therapist who now understood my problem. Without leaving
the chair he stretched forward and picked up John Fowles`s The Magus and said he
admired parts of that, as well as all of The Collector and The French Lieutenant's
Woman. I said I didn`t like tricks, I liked life as I knew it recreated on the page. He
said it wasn`t possible to recreate life on the page without tricks. He stood and went
over to the dresser and picked up a B.S. Johnson, Albert Angelo, the one with holes
cut in the pages. He admired this too, he said. I said I detested it. He was amazed to
see a copy of Alan Burns`s Celebrations by far the best experimentalist in the
country was the verdict. I said I hadn`t yet made a start. He saw I had a handful of
books published by John Calder. Best list around. I went over to where he stood. I
said I hadn`t managed to read further than twenty pages in a single one. And so
terribly printed! And how about J.G. Ballard he saw I had three of his titles.
Couldn`t face them, I said, too apocalyptic. He loved everything Ballard did. He
was a bold and brilliant spirit. We laughed. Tom promised to read me a Kingsley
Amis poem, A Bookshop Idyll`, about men and women`s divergent tastes. It went
a bit soppy at the end, he said, but it was funny and true. I said I`d probably hate it,
except for the end.
Subsequently, McEwan admires both trends that he positions the two
kinds of novels as chalk and cheese, not as chalkish characteristics to
different intensity. In other words, he wants in Sweet Tooth to write a novel
that appeals to both Haley and Serena, a novel that could be described as
naïve` and tricksy`. At the same time it respects the unwritten contract
between the reader and the writer, or dissolves the foundations of the
imagined world. In this novel, McEwan wants to resolve the conflict
between humanism and postmodernism. This makes him in company with
other writers like A. S. Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Philip Roth, and Martin
Amis. They are different not only in reading but also in reality. Their tastes
are different. That is in their description and observations of the things
around them. Serena is more realistic and factual while Haley has a fictional
Serena just reads for entertainment without reaching the deep meaning of
the texts she has. While Haley is her opposite. His writings are dystopian
and nihilistic. He depicts the destruction of humanity, portraits the world of
fear and uncertainties companied into a frightening prospect. His novel are
sometimes full of gloomy descriptions of a ruined future. He focuses upon
social disease and war`s results that will lead the world to a real hell. Despite
the fact that goal of Sweet Tooth` is to encourage capitalism, but for Haley
as well as for McEwan, literature is one way of salvation from such a
dilemma. They shed light on the influence of literature upon life.
This novel consists on a lot of references to literature. References to
classical literature are abundant. But Serena, as well as McEwan, explore
them to prove that these texts are well-read, and they themselves are familiar
with literature. There are 120 direct references (explicit intertextuality) to
authors and books` titles. Some of them are repeated more than once.
Moreover, there are references to reading, criticism, and bookshops.
One of the intertextualities is to Spenser`s The Faerie Queen. Haley
adores Spenser`s poetry, and writes his PhD dissertation about this poem. It
is worth mentioning here that this poem has a similarity to McEwan`s novel.
It is about the politics in the Elizabethan age. McEwan employs this poem as
a clue to read this particular dimension of the novel.
There is reference to Jane Austen which appears early on page 29. This is
when Serena describes her life as an excerpt from Austen`s novel.
My travel cost just over a pound, leaving me eight pounds for food and all else. I
present these details not to complain, but in the spirit of Jane Austen, whose
novels I had once raced through at Cambridge. How can one understand the inner
life of a character, real or fictional, without knowing the state of her finances?
Miss Frome, newly installed in diminutive lodgings at number seventy St
Augustine's Road, London North West One, had less than one thousand a year
and a heavy heart. I managed week to week, but I did not feel part of a glamorous
There is a strong similarity between the character of Haley and McEwan
himself. He says about him not me, but not completely not me.
Moreover, Haley`s short stories have a similar style and similar themes to
McEwan`s early fiction. On the more biographical level, the two are similar
in that both study at Sussex University.
About his employments of
autobiographical details, McEwan says:
To be quite honest, one way of bringing to life the 70s for me was to go back into
my own fiction and that brought the memories back. So I thought, well why not
build that in? I chose the second volume, In Between the Sheets, because there`s
a rather more post-modern self-reflective collection of stories than my very first
collection which was called First Love, Last Rites. I was 22 when the 1970s
began. It was a calamitous, decayed year, I mean, all kinds of things were going on
as described in the novel. But there was a kind of dissonance because I was actually
very, very happy myself. Just in my personal life, I was beginning to be published
and it was very thrilling. I came to the States for the first time in 1976, for a huge
four-month journey around it, fell in love with it. Fell in love with a woman in
England. And yet was very aware that there were people who thought the state was
falling apart. We really were in the pit of our decline. We still were close enough to
the Second World War to feel real regret about the purpose we had lost, the empire
we had lost.
Sweet Tooth is considered McEwan`s most autobiographical novel to
date. It is a kind of muted and distorted autobiography. The novel covers the
period of 1970s which are McEwan`s formative years. In addition, Haley has
McEwan`s autobiographical features. Both grow up in Suffolk, study at
Sussex University, experience their first love at the Brighton seaside,
graduate from East Anglia University, and both move to London where they
make a friendship with other talented members of their generation as Amis,
Julia Barnes, Craig Rain, and Christopher Hitchens. They form The London
School of Literature`.
This novel is concerned with betrayals, seductions, and disenchantments
with the reader who has a role in the ongoing spy game. McEwan presents
an actual personal incident in this novel. In 2011, he lost his close friend
Christopher Hitchens who died of cancer. He had a strong influence upon
McEwan. He was a critic, reviewer, poet, editor, and publisher. He worked
in The New Review. McEwan employs Hitchens` cancer in his novel:
Canning was ill. Why not say it? He had something badly wrong and he was beyond
treatment. In October he resigned his fellowship and took himself off to an island in
the Baltic, where he rented a small house. ... Why not say it? Cancer. In the early
seventies it was only just coming to an end, the time when people used to drop their
voices at the word. Cancer was a disgrace, the victim`s that is, a form of failure, a
smear and a dirty defect, of personality rather than flesh. Back then I`m sure I`d have
taken for granted Tony`s need to creep away without explanation, to winter with his
awful secret by a cold sea.
McEwan visited his friend before he died and wrote how his friend
refused to leave the world of books even in the last moments of his life.
novel deals also with
the disappearing of the literary scene in the seventies.
It refers to outstanding figures of writers, poets, publishers, and agents. In
addition to those, he mentions his friend Hitchens in the dedication only, to
make the reader notice his absence not his presence. In an interview
about his employment of his friends:
especially Martin. Ian Hamilton, sadly, is no longer with us. Tom Maschler was a
very important editor to me. I thought it would be interesting to do something I`ve
done a lot in my fiction, but never to this extent, which is to enmesh a fictional
world with a real world and have imaginary characters alongside people who are
biographically real. Maybe it`s a yearning to turn the knob -- press the button on
the realism and try and fix it historically, imagine it but also breathe the reality of
A further autobiographical employment is when Haley meets Martin
Amis in a reading seminar at Cambridge. Martin Amis read part of his novel
The Rachel Papers. But his reading unfortunately is of a hysterically funny
episode, obscene, and cruel. While Haley seizes this chance to overcome
him and reads part of one of his dystopian novel which comes right. This
scene is a real one when Amis and McEwan are hosted by Christopher
Hitchens. McEwan speaks about this incident:
Martin and I gave a reading at the Y in New York many years ago and he read
something really funny. It was a great mistake to let him go on first. I was going
to read something really dark and sad. The person who was mediatinig the
evening was our dear friend, Christopher Hitchens. I was about to go on and
people were still wiping their eyes and Hitch said, Don`t go on, I`ve just got to
go and do something. So he went back on stage and he talked everyone down.
He said, well that was very funny, and then he gave a little sort of impromptu
lecture on British literary fiction, so that by the time I came on, everything was a
lot more somber.
In Sweet Tooth, there is implied intertextuality to Vladimir Nabokov`s
Laughter in the Dark. Nabokov (1899-1977) is a Russian novelist and critic,
born in America and writes in Russian, English, and German. His novel first
appears in Russian in 1932, under the title Camera Obscura, in German in
1933, and considered as his first novel in English. It is about an apt
infatuation and the ostensibly inevitable self-destruction that follows. It is
about Albinus who is a German critic, husband and father who leaves his
wife for the sake of his teenage beloved whose main interest is money only.
She is vile because of her venality, slyness, and casual cruelty. So, things do
not end well. The novel begins with this paragraph:
Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was
rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful
mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster. This is the whole
of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure
in the telling; and although there is plenty of space on a gravestone to contain,
bound in moss, the abridged version of a man's life, detail is always welcome. ... It
was loose, shapeless, sloppy, full of blunders and gaps, lacking vigour and spring,
and plumped down in such dull, flat English that I could not read it to the end. [...]
Please believe me that had the translation been in the least acceptable I would have
passed it. And I am sure that you will agree, in your quality of publishers, that a
good translation is most important for the success of a book.
This quotation reveals three important points. The first is that, the plot
could be reduced into simple few sentences. This means it is not so
important or of little interest. Second, this quotation is like an introduction
that includes a prologue, an epilogue, and a summary of events. This means
that there is no suspense on the part of the reader to discover the end, since it
is already known. This reflects the author`s analysis of the act of reading.
For Nabokov, a good reader is the one who reads not a story but a text. The
last point to be noted in this quotation is by comparing the framework of the
novel to an epitaph (inscription on a tomb or a grave). It is equal to declaring
the death of the novel. That the plot and depriving words do not have any
capacity to survive beyond the digenesis. If their role is only to convey
meaning, so it is better for the writer to intervene, in order to prevent the
death of the novel.
The point of similarity with Sweet Tooth is the narrative paradox,
especially upon the plot:
My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) and almost forty years ago I was
sent on a secret mission for the British security service. I didn`t return safely. Within
eighteen months of joining I was sacked, having disgraced myself and ruined my
lover, though he certainly had a hand in his own undoing. I won`t waste much time
on my childhood and teenage years. I`m the daughter of an Anglican bishop and
grew up with a sister in the cathedral precinct of a charming small city in the east of
England. My home was genial, polished, orderly, book-filled. My parents liked each
other well enough and loved me, and I them. My sister Lucy and I were a year and a
half apart and though we fought shrilly during our adolescence, there was no lasting
harm and we became closer in adult life. Our father`s belief in God was muted and
reasonable, did not intrude much on our lives and was just sufficient to raise him
smoothly through the Church hierarchy and install us in a comfortable Queen Anne
house. ...The late sixties lightened but did not disrupt our existence. I never missed a
day at my local grammar school unless I was ill. In my late teens there slipped over
the garden wall some heavy petting, as they used to call it, experiments with tobacco,
alcohol and a little hashish, rock and roll records, brighter colours and warmer
relations all round. At seventeen my friends and I were timidly and delightedly
rebellious, but we did our school work, we memorised and disgorged the irregular
verbs, the equations, the motives of fictional characters. We liked to think of
ourselves as bad girls, but actually we were rather good. It pleased us, the general
excitement in the air in 1969. It was inseparable from the expectation that soon it
would be time to leave home for another education elsewhere. Nothing strange or
terrible happened to me during my first eighteen years and that is why I`ll skip them.
Left to myself I would have chosen to do a lazy English degree at a provincial.
From this quotation, the reader might get the following information, it is a
spy story, ends disastrously, it is love story with a lover playing a hand in
his own undoing`, and it is about betrayal and duplicity.
Serena at the beginning of her life, reads merely for pleasure, prefers
traditional ends where vice is punished and virtue is rewarded. But as a
result to her relation with a Cambridge professor (Canning), she grows in her
reading habits and starts to appreciate descriptions, plot, and characters.
When Haley appears in her life, he starts to guide her in her reading. One of
their meeting, he visits her room, and finds many books. They talk about
many figures, and state their criticism about them. She says that she loves
A.S. Bayatt (1936) who is an English novelist and academic critic, her
fiction is complex, ambitious, intellectual, and very literary in style and
content. Her characters are writers or academic people who play a central
role in the story. Also, she adapts the self-conscious narrative that draws the
attention to the process of literary and artistic creation. Her novels are filled
with references and employment of fairy tale and fantasy. She loves Monica
Dickens (1915-1992) who is the granddaughter of Charles Dickens. She is
one of three best-selling women in her generation in novel. She works at the
beginning of her life cooking in different houses. Then, she writes about this
experience. Serena loves also Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) who writes
about the aftermath of the war, affairs, childhood, and politics.
The Magus (1965) by Fowels consists of a lot of (isms) like feminism,
socialism, existentialism, determinism etc. It is a psychological thriller
which has a suspenseful, philosophical and psychological qualities. While
the characters of The Collector (1963) are real and taken from the author`s
own life, stories, and history. They belong to different social classes. Fowles
in this novel tries to make the reader stop and think about otherness, to reach
to the meaning of life, survival, and self-respect, to teach his reader about
human relations. Haley takes Albert Angelo by B. S. Johnson and Allen
Burn`s Celebrations. B. S. Johnson (1933-1973) is an English experimental
novelist, poet, and critic. Albert Angelo is his second novel (1946). He uses
many tools to tell simple story in a multi-dimensional way. According to
Johnson, all fiction is a version of a lie. Moreover, in his writing, he uses
conventional narrative and exposes the lie. While Alan Burn (1929-2013) is
a British novelist, known of his experimental, surreal and an avant-garde
style. His novel Celebrations is published in 1967. Haley notes also that
Serena has books published by John Calder. Calder is a British publisher like
any famous publisher today, he publishes most significant literary works of
century. The question that might be raised here is, why does she read
novels which are considered unreadable? It seems that she chooses the
authors who are important at that time, without bothering to give any
credibility to their loyalty to Sweet Tooth`. Writers who focus on plot and
characters rather than tricks.
Then they talk about J. G. Ballard (1930-2009), an English novelist.
Though she has three of his works, she considers him apocalyptic`.
Ballard`s writings are set around erotic, technical, post holocaust landscape.
They are concerned with postmodern consciousness. Haley, on the other
hand, loves everything this man writes. Then, this argument about fiction is
shifted towards poetry which she does not have any interest in. He promises
her to read Kingsley Amis' poem A bookshop IdyII`.
Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) is an English novelist, poet, and critic. He is
the father of Martin Amis. His poem is about men and women`s different
tastes. According to Haley, the end of the poem is soppy` but it is rather
funny and true. It talks about a visitor in a bookshop who takes an anthology
of poetry to note that the poems are divided into two categories according to
the gender of their writer. The poem also reveals that male poets are
interested in serious subjects as travel, serious contemplation, and reading,
while female poets are merely interested in love and memory.
I travel, you see, I think and I can read
These titles seem to say;
But I Remember You, Love is my Creed,
Poem for J.,
The ladies` choice ...
Deciding this, we can forget those times
We sat up half the night
Chockfull of love, crammed with bright thoughts, names, rhymes,
And couldn`t write.
This means that, men are interested in material things more than sensual
things like love or passion since these things disappear quickly. It is worth
mentioning here that Haley exploits this poem for his own purpose. He
switches the active role that men and women have in the poem for the
passive role of the readers (as Serena).
Irena Ksiezopolska sees both
characters (Haley and Serena) as writers who compete over control of the
frame of narrative for their story. Serena wants to keep her relation with
Haley. And she does not want to betray him. He also discovers that she is an
agent and learns all about the Sweet Tooth`, but he prefers to keep his affair
with her, and wants also to guide her as far as reading literature is
concerned. The reader expects that this novel will end tragically as far as the
couple is concerned, but this does not happen, and he continues writing
It seems that Haley has gender-switching abilities. That in most of his
short stories he inhabits the gender of his characters, trying on their clothes,
and speaking their voices. Even in his behavior with Serena, as if he wants
to make her one of his fictional characters. Serena as well as the reader
(depending upon her perspective) sees Haley as
deeply sensitive, especially
about women, seems to know and understand them from the inside, unlike most
According to Haley, facts are not so important, but what is more
important is imagination. For him, imagine first, fill in some useful
intelligence later. He wants to say fiction is first, reality is second. He
compares Sweet Tooth` to another operation called 'Mincemeat'. This
operation appears as scores of war time deception exercises. As Haley says,
the idea of this operation is taken from a novel entitled The Milliners' Hat
Mystery (1937). As a program, Mincemeat is a military plan by professional
officers in the English army during World War II. Its main idea is presenting
false documents and news to the German army. Consequently, this makes
the Germans transfer from France to Greece. This way, the British navy will
achieve massive invasion. Milliners' Hat Mystery is written by Basil
Thomson who is the author of a dozen detective stories. It is about the body
of a dead solider carrying forged documents. The story is read by Ian
Fleming who works for the naval intelligence. Fleming and his colleagues
aim to deceive the Germans. According to Haley, Mincemeat succeeds
because the imagination drives intelligence, while in the case of Sweet
Tooth` the matter is the opposite. It fails because intelligence interferes with
Sweet Tooth contains many short stories, one of them is by Shirely
(Serena`s friend and member of MI5). It is entitled The Duking Stool. The
story is about a witch who is innocent if she drowns and guilty if she
survives and faces death by burning. It echoes the life and role of Serena in
Sweet Tooth. In addition to this, this short story is borrowed from a rejected
draft of Atonement by Briony. Then it is made a best seller in 1965 and made
into a film which is acted by Julia Christie. The Duking Stool is also, as
Shirely says, an auction where publishers pay a very good deal of money to
get it, and somebody buys the film right where Julia Christie wants to act
The second story This is Love is by Haley,. By reading it, Serena is
attracted more and more towards Haley, "This Is Love, is the most
ambitious. I thought it had the scale of a novel. A novel about belief and
emotion. And what a wonderful character Jean is, so insecure and
destructive and alluring. It`s a magnificent piece of work. Did you ever think
of expanding it into a novel, you know, filling it out a bit? "(86) It is about a
vicar and his twin. The vicar reminds Serena of her father. After reading this
story, she feels violated by its author and becomes homesick and curios.
The other short story is Shop-Window Dummy, about Neil Carder, a
man in his thirties who has good money but no one know its source. He lives
in isolation that even his neighbor does not know him. He has a relation with
his Nigerian housekeeper (Abeje). She is married to a soccer player, and has
two children. The reader will note that there are a lot of dummies in Carder`s
house, but he hates them all. He always stares at a picture of a woman and
contemplates an engraving of a view of Venice. The mannequin is called
Hermione, this is the name of Carder`s ex-wife who leaves him after less
than a year.
He loves her but she has an affair with another man: "They
were lovers, Hermione and Abeje. Furtive and fleeting. Whenever he was
out of the house. For who else had Hermione seen since she arrived? Hence
that look of distracted longing. Hence Abeje`s abrupt performance this
morning. Hence everything. He was a fool, an innocent fool.
Carder suspects that his wife has a relation with one of his servants.
Consequently, he kills her in a very horrifying way and dismisses Abeje. He
leaves his house while the house keeper takes the jewels, shoes, and the
clothes of his wife. She wears them in front of her husband and says
him and it broke him up".
Then, Carder lives alone and decides to start a new
life and forgets everything. First of all, this story indicates the territory of the
writer`s mind. Second, it has a resemblance to McEwan`s stories and the
only one is narrated fully. This makes it a postmodern poly of rewriting text
that is sufficiently extended for detailed comparative analysis. McEwan`s
story is narrated by the hero himself.
Haley`s story imitates the style of narrative of John Fowles` The
Collector. Fowles has a strong interest in modern psychology. It is about two
contrasting characters, the first is Frederick Clegg who is a lone clerk who
falls in love with a young art student, Miranda Grey. He holds her captive in
a remote place where they embark on a torturous psychological duel. The
struggle between the two gets worse as the novel develops and it ends
tragically. Clegg is mentally unstable. He believes himself to save her from
the claws of the mid-20
century society. The similarity between the two
texts is that Haley`s narrator wants to replay the role of Clegg, repeating his
outrage on a living person next time. Haley`s story ends with a decision to
forget and starts a new life.
Haley`s story is similar to McEwan`s Dead as they Come. It is from his
collection, In Between the Sheets. It is narrated by a rich man who falls in
love with a mannequin at a clothes-shop window. He buys her and keeps her
in his house. There, he imagines that she makes an affair with his chauffeur.
The story ends tragically when he destroys his own lavish home. The
difference between the two stories is that in the original one much of what is
described is attributed to the delusions of the narrator. Moreover, his wealth
and possession can be read as fantasies more than actual descriptions. In the
case of Haley`s story, there is the omniscient narrator, and the hero's wealth
is less fantastic. The narrator depicts the heros' life before and after the
dummy affair as empty and conventional. While in Dead as they Come,
the hero depicts himself as a social, economic person, and is involved in
political life. In all cases, McEan`s, Fowle`s, and Haley`s short stories, the
end is tragic.
Serena`s reaction to Haley's story is:
I felt that I would doubt my own sanity if I started looking for a hidden microphone
in my room. I also felt vulnerable to Neil Carder`s loose grip on reality. It could
loosen my own. And was he yet another character to be ground under Haley`s
narrative heel for getting everything wrong? With some reluctance, I carried my tea
upstairs and sat on the edge of my bed, willing myself to pick up another of Haley`s
pages. Clearly, the reader was intended to have no relief from the millionaire`s
madness, no chance to stand outside it and see it for what it was. There was no
possibility of this clammy tale ending well. (73)
While Max's ( another agent in Sweet Tooth) reaction is:
I thought it was interesting.`
Serena! It was completely implausible. Anyone that deluded would be in the
secure wing of a psychiatric institution.`
How do you know he isn`t?`
Then Haley should have let the reader know.`
It seems that Max diagnoses the difference between McEwan`s and Haley`s
stories. As if he wants to say that Haley rewrites the original story, since
McEwan`s story can be easily rewritten by an inmate of an asylum. For
Max, it would be difficult to read Haley`s version because of its omniscient
narrator. The aim behind this intertextuality is that McEwan improves his
own story, then comments on these improvements in an ironical way
through Serena and Max. Though they are naïve readers but they rightly
guess that the character of Neil Carder is somehow based on Haley himself.
Haley has a murderous instinct which is revealed in his letter to Serena: "I
should tell you that in that hour, if your lovely pale throat had appeared
upturned on my lap and a knife had been pushed into my hand, I would have
done the job without thinking. It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul. Unlike
me, Othello didn`t want to shed blood. He was a softie."(179) This is when
Haley discovers Serena`s betrayal, but Sweet Tooth ends happily with a
proposal of marriage, while McEwan`s short story is not: Before she had
time to even draw breath I was on her, I was in her, rammed deep inside
while my right hand closed about her tender white throat. With my left I
smothered her face with the pillow. It echoes Haley`s story especially the
Her crime was his reckless empowerment. He tore into her with all the savagery
of disappointed love, and his fingers were round her throat as she came, as they
both came. And when he was done, her arms and legs and head had parted
company with her torso, which he dashed against the bedroom wall. She lay in
all corners, a ruined woman. (74)
This last quotation echoes Philip Larkin`s Deceptions. He is a post-
WWII English poet and novelist. This poem is concerned with human
nature, sexual issues, and ethical meditation. It is based on a real story in the
century of a Victorian girl who is drugged and raped. The poet not only
presents the historical story, but also mixes it with modern people's
confusion and ethical thoughts in the re-building of ethical order. He has a
detective eye: you were less deceived, out on that bed, / Than he was,
stumbling up the breathless stair / To burst into fulfillment`s desolate
. In both texts, Haley`s and Larkin`s, the rape scene is described by
the rapist, in which he presents himself as a victim of a delusion of desire,
and objectifies the women`s suffering, as if it is taken for granted and
pushed to the background. So, the word ruined` for Haley has double
meanings. The first is that, his dummy is both a victim of seduction and
rape, and the second refers to a broken object.
Haley`s shop-window dummy is somehow similar to Shakespeare`s
The Winter's Tale (1610). The play is about Leontes, his wife is Hermione,
and his old friend Polixenes. Leontes asks his wife to persuade his friend to
stay longer with them, since he decides to leave. She succeeds but her
husband suspects that there is a relation between the two. Then, Leontes
punishes his wife by putting her in jail, after that, she turns into stone. The
same thing happens in Haley`s story. The man falls in love with a store
mannequin called Hermione, and brings it home. Then, he destroys it
because he imagines that she has an affair with his housekeeper.
There is a further intertextuality to Haley`s shop-window dummy.
This time it is to Nabokov`s King, Queen Knave. The main theme in this
novel is mannequins, where he portrays live characters as inanimate
automations, dummies with exchangeable heads. McEwan, on the other
hand, makes the reverse. He depicts the human relations by
anthropomorphizing on an object and then destroys it as a live creature with
a soul and independent mind. It seems that Nabokov`s novel serves as an
inspiration to both McEwan and Haley.
There is another shadow to Nabokov in Sweet Tooth. Sometimes it is
in a phrase, other times, it is in a conspicuous circumstance of secondary
characters. In Sweet Tooth, Haley`s mother suffers from agoraphobia (the
fear of the busy urban life). This woman is not given any role except this
one: His mother was a peripatetic piano teacher until her growing fear of
stepping outdoors confined her to lessons at home. A glimpse of sky, of a
corner of a cloud was enough to bring her to the edge of a panic attack. No
one knew what brought the agoraphobia on. (108). The same thing is to be
found in one of Nabokov`s short stories, Signs and Symbols. It is about a
young man who undergoes of referential mania which manifests itself in the
following delusions: the patient imagines that everything happening around
him is a veiled reference to his personality and existence. ... Phenomenal
nature shadows him wherever he goes. Clouds in the staring sky transmit to
one another, by means of slow signs, incredibly detailed information
Here is the man who thinks himself being watched
whether by animate creatures or unanimated objects. There are two points of
connection with Sweet Tooth. First, it is one way of reading this novel.
Haley discovers the true identity of Serena, this means he watches the
watcher, since Serena is the agent of secret operation who watches Haley.
They also imagine other watchers follow them all the time. The second point
is that, Nabokov`s aim behind this psychiatric state is to induce his reader to
see the hidden signs and symbols behind every word, image, and scene, to
create a sense of paranoia which torments his characters. This is applied to
There is another short story, Haley` Pawnography. It deals with
infidelity and setting the score. Like other Haley`s short stories, it echoes
McEwan`s "Pornography". Haley`s short story is about Sebastian Morel
who is a teacher of French in one of London's school. His wife is Monica
and they have two children (a girl and a boy). His class is a mess, sometimes
he spends the entire day to control his students but he fails. This is because
of their ignorance and aggression. Money is always their problem. His wife
stays at home without a job. She asks her husband to go to the bank and
draw out some money from the joint account so that she can make a simple
Christmas party for her children. When he comes back from the bank with
the money, he is threatened by a boy who has a knife. Sebastian gives him
the money. He could have overcome this boy since he is older than him. But
he thinks about the matter differently. This boy is poor, and never has a
chance of education. So, the result is quite normal for this boy to transfer to
the world of crime. Then, Sebastian goes to the police station to report the
incident. He goes into a pub and not to his house after this accident. What
happened with him affects all his life. His wife does not believe him. They
borrow money from her haughty brother. As a result, the couple's relation
becomes cold, they are distant from each other, and pretend everything is all
right. She gets bored of her life, of lack of money, of staying at home
without a job. He asks her to go to police station to be sure. While Sebastian
is in his job, his wife phones him, she tells him some of their furniture was
stolen because she was outside the house at that time. Now he is completely
disappointed and troubled. While he is at the school, as usual, police man
comes and asks about him. He asks him to visit police station after finishing
his job. He goes the police, the police shows him a screen. It seems that
there is a camera that records what happens that day in Sebastian`s house.
What happens is that there two thieves and their assistant. The problem is
that this assistant is Sebastian`s wife. He decides that their marriage is over.
But she seduces him, and complete their usual day, and usual life.
of the story is He would make love to a liar and a thief, to a woman he
would never know. And she in turn would convince herself that she was
making love to a liar and a thief. And doing so in the spirit of forgiveness.
Haley's short story echoes McEwan`s Pornography. It is about adult`s
sexual deviance of some sort. The main character is the brutish O`Byrne
who works with his brother in a Pornography book shop in London. There
are two female characters who work as nurses in a hospital. They are Lucy
and Paunline. Byrne has a relation with both of them. He infects them with
the clap because he is sick. When the two nurses discover this they decide
to revenge by cutting a part of his body in a perversion of their surgical and
Haley writes a novel entitled From the Somerset Levels. It echoes
McEwan`s Two Fragments. First of all, Haley`s story is a doomed and
dystopian. It is a journey of a man with his nine-year-old daughter across a
ruined landscape, where the distractions are everywhere, where rats, cholera
and bubonic plague are constant dangers, where the water is polluted and
famine characterizes life. When the couple reach London, their
disappointment increases. There, they find decaying skyscrapers, empty and
dirty streets which are full of rats and feral dogs. The air is thick with smoke,
and they watch people go to their work like an ant colony. The man meets an
old friend. She is a collector. They talk about the industrial revolution and its
dark side among people. Then he remembers his happy past which will
never come back again. The daughter says that the collapse of civilization
associates with the injustices, conflicts and contradictions of the twentieth
century. The couple`s arrival to London is to search for his wife, the girl`s
mother. There is no communication at all in the city and no one helps them.
All what they have is her picture when she was a child. After many failed
trials, they fail.
The novel ends dismally: Father and daughter die in one
another`s arms in the rank cellar of the ruined headquarters of a once-famous
McEwan`s Two Fragments, on the other hand, is an evocation of a
possible London in the 20
century, which is half destroyed by revolutions
and wars. This short story focuses on the aftermath of the war in which there
is no light, no food, no heat. People live in near level of death. The lovers
live in memories of the happy past, an incurably arty girl believes that Art
Deco may change the society into a better state. In reality, they are
destroyed, distressed, and anguished. While in the memory of the past, they
are happy, since they remember happy and joyful moments as taking their
children to the zoo, driving a car, watching a football match. Now, all these
things disappear as a result of war. So, the story is moving from fragment of
cold reality to fragment of fantasy, from comic happy scene to threating and
After three days of their discussion about the story of mathematics,
Haley introduces his short story Probable Adultery to the director. It is
about Terry Mole who is an architect, and his wife Sally. Their marriage is
childless and is destroyed by her betrayal. She has a relation with another
man. One day, she tells her husband that she is going to spend the day with
her aunt. He suspects her, so he follows her. She enters to the small hotel
and meets a strange man. Then, they go upstairs. The husband follows them
to find just three closed rooms, they are 401, 402, 403. He has to decide and
break into one of them. He makes his decision and chooses the nearest one,
401. Meanwhile, 403 is opened by an Indian couple with their baby. Now
the story reaches its climax, his wife is in one of two rooms, either in 401 or
in 402. The husband changes his opinion and kicks 402 door to catch them
Only a fool would stay with his first choice, for the steely laws of
probability are inflexibly true. (123)
He hits the man and leaves to London
where he divorces her and starts new life.
Serena realizes that she is responsible for Haley`s belief that fate plays a
major role of a game show host. She corrects her mistakes by reversing the
First of all, I got rid of the Indian couple and their hare lipped baby. Charming as
they were, they could play no part in this drama. Then, as Terry takes a few paces
back, the better to run at the door of Room 401, he overhears two chambermaids
talking on the landing below.Their voices drift up to him clearly. One of them says,
I`ll just pop upstairs and do one of them two empty rooms.` And the other says,
Watch out, that couple are in their usual.` They laugh knowingly. Terry hears the
maid coming up the stairs. He`s a decent amateur mathematician and realises he has a
fantastic opportunity. He needs to think quickly. If he goes and stands close to any of
the doors, and 401 will do, he will force the maid to go into one of the other two
rooms. She knows where the couple are. She`ll think he`s either a new guest about to
enter his room, or a friend of the couple, waiting outside their door. Whatever room
she chooses, Terry will transfer to the other and double his chances. And that`s exactly
what happens. The maid, who has inherited the harelip, glances at Terry, gives him a
nod, and goes into 403. Terry makes his decisive switch, runs and leaps at 402 and
there they are, Sally and her man, in flagrante.
McEwan uses the same trick in Atonement. First the fountain scene is
narrated in three different ways. Briony writes the same trick in her story
about this scene which is rejected by the editor who asks her to make
changes. This is beside that Atonement itself has two ends.
Intertextuality unites Sweet Tooth to Atonement. Both novels deal with
politics of culture, the process of writing, and the nature of fiction itself. In
both also, there are similar ideas, similar tricks, themes, structure, and
transtextual relations. McEwan in both novels incorporates metafictional
elements with narrative. Both focus on fiction, reading fiction, how fiction is
used to explain and experience things. They discuss the process of reading,
so, they are works of metafiction.
McEwan follows the same strategy in Sweet Tooth and Atonement. In
both novels, he makes use of intertextual and metafictional elements. And
follows the same strategy in presenting the theme of love and its barriers. In
both novels, there is a focus on the creative writing, and on the writer`s
dilemma of his responsibility towards the readers, characters, and himself.
Both also deal with danger of imagination. Moreover, both have a female
narrator. There is also a strong love story that gathered two people who
persist in their affection against various odds of fate, because they believe in
each other. Both novels also, tackle historical events, and show how these
events affect the relation of the lovers and other people. Another similarity
between the two novels is the theme of childhood, child-parents relation.
Generally speaking, a child identity is formed according to his experiences
in this childhood. Accordingly, both Briony and Serena are affected by their
family and the way they bring them. In terms of hierarchy roles, both
families are arranged according to a very similar patriarchal model, though
the latter family is less extreme than the former. But in both cases, the father
has an indisputable authority, his figure is knowledgeable but preoccupied
by emotion in his upbringing of his children. Both mothers are obedient to
their husbands, both devote their life for their house and children. Similarity
also lies in daughter-mother relationship. Both Cecilia and Serena study in
Cambridge University with little interest. This makes them exceptional cases
in the context of their time. Cecilia enters the university to break the
constrains of her family, and in search for freedom. So, she challenge her
mother`s will. Serena, on the other hand, is the reverse of Cecilia. She enters
Cambridge under the request of her mother and her teachers. This indicates
that Cecilia has an independent strong personality while Serena is a passive
creature who is easily affected by people, especially men.
Another point of similarity between Sweet Tooth and Atonement is the
function of intertextuality and metafictionality which is developing
narrative and thematic framework. As Graham Allen says, the term
intertextuality promotes a new vision of meaning, and thus of authorship and
reading: a vision resistant to ingrained notions of originality, uniqueness,
singularity and autonomy.
The intertextuality in Sweet Tooth is more
noticeable and extensive than in Atonement, since its protagonist is a quick
reader and has relation with a young active writer (Haley). They participate
in a program which provides support to the writer to encourage capitalism
and anti-Soviet thoughts. Throughout this novel, there are so many
references (150 references) to famous writers, poets, dramatists, book titles,
book shops, and to real publishers. While in Atonement, the intertextuality
appears in parts of it. In Sweet Tooth, the intertextuality serves to enrich the
depiction of its protagonist and makes the literary world more authentic and
The intertextuality in Sweet Tooth is closely connected to metafiction.
This is from three perspectives since one of its themes is writing and creative
literature. The first is through Sweet Tooth operation which it uses
literature to reshape the public opinion. The second perspective is Haley's
who talks about an old operation, Mincemeat. This indicates how much
literature could be used to inspire the deceptive exercise of espionage. And
the third perspective is through the Jane Austen Prize which shows the affect
and pressure of good writing and what role such prizes have on the writers`
The final similarity between Sweet Tooth and Atonement is the double
ends. This reveals that the novel the reader reads is written by one of its
protagonist, which is impossible to be published for legal reason. In the case
of Atonement, it is not published because Briony still alive. Halle also could
not publish his Sweet Tooth because it is about secret organization. The only
difference in this point is that Atonement is written by its narrator and
protagonist (Briony). While Sweet Tooth is by someone else (Haley), not the
narrator. Moreover, the purpose of writing is different. In Atonement, it is to
atone her previous sin, while in Sweet Tooth is to make a good story of one
of the ironies of fate, to save a relationship which may otherwise go wrong,
and also to atone but in a different sense.
In Sweet Tooth, there are references to literary rewards as Jane Austen
Prize for fiction, and New Fangled Booker. Also there are references to
actual journals like Encounter and ?Quiz?. This novel is concerned with the
process of making, evaluating, and publishing literature. According to Peter
Chalupsky, the employment of intertextuality and metafictional playfulness
in Sweet Tooth serves as a means of McEwan`s apologia for a strong story as
a crucial factor of narrative equality.
Sweet Tooth could be said to be one of the most difficult texts. At the
same time, it is very enjoyable. Its difficulty is due to the employment of
multiple intertextualities, complex series of metafictional techniques, and
complex espionage stories. In addition to this, it is wrong to start reading
Sweet Tooth. In other words, to understand and reach the meanings and aim
behind this novel, the reader is supposed to read McEwan`s early short
stories or at least has knowledge of McEwan`s personal life.
Ian McEwan, Sweet Tooth (London: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2012), 9; Kurt
Andersen, I Spy Sweet Tooth,` by Ian McEwan Sunday Book Review (NOV. 21,
Sam Sacks, Novelistic Intelligence Ian McEwan's new spy novel is actually a self-
reflexive love story The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 12, 2012 3:57 pm.),
Barbara Chai, Ian McEwan Revisits the Past With Sweet Tooth` (Part 1) The
Wall Street Journal, (Oct 29, 2012 4:00 pm ET)
http:// blogs. wsj.com/ speakeasy/ 2012/
Peter Mathews, Review: Sweet Tooth (2012) by Ian McEwan English Literature
, (accessed 10/9/2016)
Scott Stossel, Sweet Tooth` by Ian McEwan Boston Globe Media (December
, (accessed 11/9/2016)
Maureen Corrigan, Ian McEwan's 'Sweet Tooth' Leaves A
Sour Taste Books (November 12, 2012),
McEwan (2012), 174-184; Charles Adam, The Lies We Tell: Ian McEwan`s
Sweet Tooth The Millions (November 19, 2012),
McEwan (2012), 119.
Ibid, 7, all quotations are from this edition and will be given parenthetically
Leo Robson, Sweet Tooth rewards re-reading, not reading New Statesman, (23
, (accessed 22/9/2016).
Susan Wyndham, Interview: Ian McEwan Fairfax Media, (September 8, 2012),
html, (accessed 8/9/2016).
Ibid; Patrick Finucane, " Profile: Stella Rimington" Spy Culture, (March 17th
2013), (accessed 7/9/2016),
Sisman, "John le Carré: The Biography" The Atlantic, (December 2015 Issue),
Peter Chalupsky, Playfulness As Apologia For a Strong Story In Ian McEwan`s
Sweet Tooth" Brno Studies in English, Volume 41, No. 1, 2015: 1,
, (accessed 14/9/2016); Patrick Finucane, "Profile: Stella
Rimington" Spy Culture (March 17th 2013).
Ibid. : 2.
Ibid. : 11.
Corrigan, Mandic: 266; Chalupsky: 10; Irena Ksiezopolskaa, Turning Tables:
Enchantment, Entrapment, and Empowerment in McEwan's Sweet Tooth Critique:
Studies in Contemporary Fiction, (14 Aug 2015): 418,
, (accessed 14/9/2016).
Edna Longley, Edward Thomas (1878 1917) War Poets Association.
George Stade, A Whydunnit in Q-Sharp Major The New York Times
Cheyette, Bryan H. "Muriel Spark." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive
Historical Encyclopedia" Jewish Women's Archive. ( October 17/ 2016)
, (accessed 20/9/2016);
Never Apologies, Never Explain Guardian, (Saturday 22 April 2006),
, (accessed 20/9/2016).
Robson; Ksiezopolskaa: 421.
Mathews; McEwan, 108.
Mathews, Ksiezopolskaa: 419.
McEwan, 33; Chalupsky: 10.
Ksiezopolskaa: 416; Chai.
McEwan, 148; Ksiezopolskaa: 432; Chai.
Christine Raguet-Bouvart, Camera Obscura and Laughter in the Dark, or, The
Confusion of Texts Criticism,
(accessed 20/9/2016); Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark, (New York: Vintage
Books, 1989), 1.
Ibid; J. A. Cuddon, Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory, (London:
Penguin Books, 1998), 279; Hermione Hoby, Vladimir Nabokov's novel is both
hilarious and deliciously cruel The Guardian, (Sunday 6 June 2010),
Michael Trevillion, Dame A. S. Byatt Literature,
Charles Pick, Obituary: Monica
Dickens The Independent, (Thursday 31 December 1992), http://www.independent.
Derasmo, Elizabeth Bowen': A Fan's Notes The New York Times (Feb. 20, 2005),
McEwan (2012), 109.
Jeremiah Chamberline, Making Room for the Reader: Lessons from The
Magus Fiction Writers Review (October 05, 2008),
http:// fiction writers review.com/
(accessed 20/9/2016); Georgiana-Elena
Dil, Butterflies and Voices in John Fowles` The Collector University of Craiov:
http://www.theroundtable.ro/Current/2013/Literary/Georgiana%20Dila%20-% 20 John
(accessed 20/9/2016); Adrian Slatcher, Albert Angelo by B.S. Johnson
The Art of Fiction (Tuesday, August 23, 2011),
, (accessed 20/9/2016); Anthony Burgess, The future
of the novel depends on people like B. S. Johnson. New Directions (2016),
(accessed 20/ 9/ 2016)
Alan Burns Obituary The Guardian (Monday 13 January 2014),
, (accessed 20/9/2016)
O'Mahony,Publishing's one-man band The Guardian (Saturday 20 July 2002), https:
McEwan (2012), 109; Thomas Frick, J. G. Ballard, The Art of Fiction The
Paris Review, No. 85, (2016),
Biography.com Editors, J. G. Ballard
Biography, http://www.biography.com/people/jg-ballard-37536, (accessed 26/ 9/ 2016).
Kingsley Amis, Collected Poems 19441979 (New York: Viking, 1980.): 56-
57, quoted in Ksiezopolska:420.
McEwan (2012), 79; Ibid: 421.
Evan Andrews, What was Operation Mincemeat? Ask History (June 5,
(accessed 19/ 9/ 2016)
Malcolm Gladwell, It was a dazzling feat of wartime espionage.
But does it argue for or against spying? Pandora's Briefcase (May 10/ 2010),
, (accessed 19/ 9/
Ksiezopolska: 422; McEwan (2012), 183.
Ksiezopolska: 423; McEwan (2012), 170-171.
McEwan (2012), 86; Ksiezopolska: 423.
McEwan (2012), 74.
Ibid; Ksiezopolska: 423.
David Malcolm, Understanding Ian McEwan (South Carolina: University of
South Carolina Press, 2002), 23.
McEwan (2012), 82, 179, 74; McEwan, Dead as They Come The Iowa
Review, Volume 8, Issue 4, (1977): 82, http//ir.uiowa.Edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article
=2291...iowareview, (accessed 19/ 9/ 2016); Ksiezopolska: 424.
Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (London: Marvell and Faber, 1990): 32, cited
in Ksiezopolska: 425.
Xi Chen, A Flâneur`s Deceptions: Gender, Sex and Ethics Re-narrated
Journal of Cambridge Studies, (College of Foreign Languages, Hunan University): 151-
20/9/2016); Ruchika, A Analytical Study of the Philip Larkin`s Selected Poetries
Global Journal of Human Social Science Linguistics & Education Volume 12 Issue 12,
, (accessed 20/9/2016); Ksiezopolska: 425.
Mandic: 226; J. M. Pressly, The Winter`s Tale Shakespeare Resource
Center, http://www.bardweb.net/plays/winterstale.html, (accessed 20/9/2016).
Vladimir Nabokov, The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, (New York: Knopf,
1995), 600, cited in Ksiezopolska: 426.
McEwan, 108; Ksiezopolska: 426 .
Hotti: 33; McEwan, 90- 96.
Malcolm, 23; Richard M. Ratzan, Pornography: Ian McEwan Langone
Medical Center (Jul-26-2004), medhum.med.nyu.edu/view/12248, (accessed 26,9, 2016).
V.S. Pritchett, In Between the Sheets and Other Stories by Ian McEwan The
New York Review (January 24, 1980 Issue),
(accessed 26, 9, 2016).
Ibid. , 124.
Mandic: 226; Hotti: 1.
Graham Allen, Intertextuality
(London: Routledge, 2000), 6.
Ibid. : 8.
Ibid. : 9.
Ibid. :3; Hotti: 34.
Intertextuality works on all levels of language, (written, spoken, and
even sign language), communications, behaviors, learning, and beliefs.
Enduring Love depends upon several other texts. Since the main theme is
the duality of two cultures (science on the on hand, and literature or
humanities on the other), so there are two main intertextuality: the first is to
literature, and the second is to science, beside other minor intertextuality.
Moreover, Enduring Love is a mixture of different genres (a pastiche): it is
difficult to categorize under one particular genre.
Enduring Love is filled with references, allusions, and quotations from
well-known texts and figures beside many implied intertextuality. The main
intertextuality, however, are to Keats and to Darwin. This is because it deals
with the debate between science and literature, and its main characters
represent those different fields. Intertextuality to Keats in this novel is to
echo the theme of the novel itself, the meaning and value of love. McEwan's
aim behind presenting science and literature in this way is to state that both
fields (science and literature, material things and love) are important in life.
At times, man needs to use his scientific procedures and thoughts on certain
occasions. While at other times, people depend upon literature, spirituality,
Atonement is McEwan's masterpiece and a very intertextual novel. It
involves many intertextuality (implicit and explicit) to famous figures.
Intertextuality to Jane Austen is a major one. Of course, McEwan's choice of
Austen is not accidental. He admires and is inspired by her. This
intertextuality serves the themes of Atonement, the danger of imagination,
the danger of misreading, the process of writing, and presenting the child as
a writer. McEwan's Briony is similar to Austin's fictional female characters
at times; at other times, she is similar to Austin herself. In other words, she
is a fictional version of Austin. While the references to Feilding and
Richardson are to show the differences between two important moments in
the history of English literature. First, it sheds light upon the reader's
different tastes, second to indicate that reading reflects the reader's
personality. McEwan alludes to Fowle's work to discuss the use of
postmodern techniques and how far the postmodern writer gives freedom to
his reader, and sometimes to his characters too. Sometimes McEwan refers
to literary traditional names when Robbie and Cecilia use them as a code,
but without much explanation. This is first to indicate his as well as his
characters' literary status, and second to stimulate his readers to search for
The implied interextuality to Lawrence and Woolf is to show the
reflection of the writer's personality and experiences on his writings. For
McEwan, the matter is different, the subjectivity is molded with external
events especially historical ones. This shows McEwan's readers his
extensive employment of history, especially war and its aftermath. Depicting
this side of history leads McEwan to refer to Auden's poem "On the Memory
of W. H. Yeats" explicitly.
Finally, intertextuality in Sweet Tooth is rather different. It is divided
into two types, literary intertextuality and autobiographical intertextuality.
Moreover, by employing his early stories, he wants to revisit his own past,
and shed light upon these stories again to observe the readers` different
reactions in 1978 and in 2012. With literary intertextualities, McEwan wants
to focus not only on the process of writing, but also on the process of
publication and the role of the editor, and on the process of reading and the
role of the reader. McEwan wants to instruct both the readers (through
Haley's comments and criticism to Serena's reading) and the writers (through
the confrontation between Amis and Haley, and through Serena's revision of
the short story).
Intertextuality in McEwan's novels is like a journey that takes the reader
to meet different fields, genres, figures, and different literary ages. He does
not use intertextuality for the sake of intertextuality. But his employment of
this technique is for different purposes. It is sometimes used to manipulate
the themes, focus on the character's personality and development, and shed
light upon the narration of his stories. Finally, he aims at emphasizing the
metafictionality of his writings and mixes the traditional, modern, and
postmodern themes and techniques.
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