Universitatea „Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu, Facultatea de Litere și Arte
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3 / 2016
Innocence and Initiation in Ian McEwan’s Novels
The narrative work of Ian McEwan, one of the most widely recognized authors of contemporary British fiction, is quite varied, as his literary style has undergone substantial development in the course of his career. Although each of his works is specific in a way, there are some motifs which link them thematically; among the frequently recurring themes are those of childhood, adolescence, family relationships and initiation. But whereas the Romantic poets had underlined the innocence and frailty of the child, the early and mid-Victorian novelists were more concerned with denouncing the material and psychological plight of children in society. The image of childhood visualized by the Romantic poets was often at odds with the abject squalor and cruelty suffered by the young inhabitants of urban England as described in Dickens’s Oliver Twist or David Copperfield. McEwan highlights that age-old dilemma of how to come to terms with the transition from a child’s perception of never-ending time to the adult’s ever-growing awareness that one’s own time is finite, as we discuss within this essay, taking into consideration several novels, such as The Cement Garden and Atonement. If the transition is painful, we may glean some comfort from the knowledge that the theme of childhood and adolescence and the attempts to capture the sense of loss that accompanies entry into adulthood have also produced some of the finest literature in English over the last decades.
Keywords: contemporary British fiction, Ian McEwan, childhood, initiation, maturity, postmodern novel.
- Ian McEwan, Grădina de ciment (The Cement Garden). Traducere de Dan Croitoru, Iași, Editura Polirom, 2009.
- Ian McEwan, Ispășire (Atonement). Traducere și note de Virgil Stanciu, Iași, Editura Polirom, 2008.
- Ian McEwan, Pe plaja Chesil (On Chesil Beach). Traducere de Ana-Maria Lișman, Iași, Editura Polirom, 2007.
- Peter Childs, McEwan’s „Enduring Love”, Routledge, 2006.
- Julie Ellam, Ian McEwan’s „Atonement”, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009.
- Adrienne E. Gavin, The Child in British Literature: Literary Constructions of Childhood, Medieval to Contemporary, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
- Dominic Head, Ian McEwan, Manchester University Press, 2008.
- David Malcolm, Understanding Ian McEwan, University of South Carolina Press, 2002.