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2 - Moral Dilemmas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2019

Dominic Head
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

This chapter explores Ian McEwan’s stature as a contemporary British moral novelist by focusing on acute ethical dilemmas in five of his best-known works from the past thirty years: The Child in Time, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, Atonement and Saturday. Beginning with the dramatic episode of a tragic balloon accident in Enduring Love, the chapter analyzes discrete scenes of intense ethical conflict in each text, in which characters are torn between altruism and self-interest. These scenes are interpreted in the context of McEwan’s distinctly self-conscious aesthetic, which makes use of complex and highly ironic relationships between the narrator and the reader. By examining ethical representations in light of McEwan’s sophisticated narrative technique, the chapter argues that McEwan has helped to revive the moral novel for a new generation and has taken his place in the lineage of great moral writers in Britain reaching back to Daniel Defoe.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Moral Dilemmas
  • Edited by Dominic Head, University of Nottingham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ian McEwan
  • Online publication: 24 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108648516.003
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  • Moral Dilemmas
  • Edited by Dominic Head, University of Nottingham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ian McEwan
  • Online publication: 24 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108648516.003
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Moral Dilemmas
  • Edited by Dominic Head, University of Nottingham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ian McEwan
  • Online publication: 24 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108648516.003
Available formats
×