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Author: Dominic Head

In this survey, Ian McEwan emerges as one of those rare writers whose works have received both popular and critical acclaim. His novels grace the bestseller lists, and he is well regarded by critics, both as a stylist and as a serious thinker about the function and capacities of narrative fiction. McEwan's novels treat issues that are central to our times: politics, and the promotion of vested interests; male violence and the problem of gender relations; science and the limits of rationality; nature and ecology; love and innocence; and the quest for an ethical worldview. Yet he is also an economical stylist: McEwan's readers are called upon to attend, not just to the grand themes, but also to the precision of his spare writing. Although McEwan's later works are more overtly political, more humane, and more ostentatiously literary than the early work, this book uncovers the continuity as well as the sense of evolution through the oeuvre. It makes the case for McEwan's prominence—pre-eminence, even—in the canon of contemporary British novelists.

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Dominic Head

pauses, to do some of his work.’2 McEwan’s readers are called upon to attend, not just to the grand themes, but also to the precision of his spare writing. From the perspective of an emerging twentieth-century literary history, McEwan occupies a central role in a new wave of British novelists whose mature writing began to emerge in the Thatcher era. McEwan stands alongside those writers mentioned above – Martin Amis, Graham Swift and Kazuo Ishiguro – a quartet of key writers who fashioned an ethical vision for the ‘post-consensus’ period. Grappling with the moral

in Ian McEwan
Pleasure and the practised reader
Richard De Ritter

reading was also intimately related to conduct-book discourses of femininity which, ostensibly, articulate ‘a bourgeois programme of self-discipline and self-improvement which is anti-pleasure’.6 Considering this climate, it is striking to encounter Anna Letitia Barbauld’s essay ‘On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing’, which formed the preface to her fifty-volume edition of The British Novelists (1810). Within The British Novelists, Barbauld constructs ‘a diverse, politically self-conscious, and progressive canon’, which promotes both ‘pleasure-taking and

in Imagining women readers, 1789–1820
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Sam Rohdie

Truth In the late 1930s, Orson Welles already had a distinguished and exceptionally brilliant career in theatre and in radio theatre while still in his late teens and early twenties. He became famous, indeed infamous, by a radio play based on the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds by the British novelist H.G. Wells. Welles dramatised the H.G. Wells novel as a radio documentary of an invasion by Martians of the United States that parodied the form: the report of the fictional invasion was presented as a news event taking place at the moment of broadcast

in Film modernism
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Virginia Woolf’s Common Reader essays and the legacy of women’s life writing
Susan Civale

Coda: Virginia Woolf’s Common Reader essays and the legacy of women’s life writing A lthoug h Virgin ia Wool f oc c u pies a longstanding and uncontested place in the canon of British novelists, her reception as a writer of non-fiction has been more precarious. Like Mary Wollstonecraft and countless other women of the long nineteenth century who cut their writing teeth on the anonymous pages of the periodical press, Woolf the essayist, both in her lifetime and afterwards, underwent periods of obscurity, fame and critical neglect.1 Recent interest in her non

in Romantic women’s life writing
Peopling the paper house
Alexa Alfer and Amy J. Edwards de Campos

the opportunity to shape and engage more widely in the literary scene of her day. In 1993, for example, she judged Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists , alongside Salman Rushdie and Waterstone’s then marketing manager John Mitchinson. The experience, which she was later to reflect on in a journalistic piece for the Daily Telegraph (Byatt, 1993h), not only prompted her to reflect on the

in A. S. Byatt
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Sara Upstone

-determined world exists every day in British tabloid newspapers, and the novel is ‘a coded way to unpick all the weird debates about race and identity that are floating around’.60 Named along with Ali one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists of 2003, Kunzru earned the highest ever advance for a first novel for The Impressionist on the promise of being a writer who would take ‘his place in the constellation of important young British novelists writing about a very new, multi-racial, multi-ethnic Britain’.61 At first glance, none of Kunzru’s novels seem to fulfil this

in British Asian fiction
Open Access (free)
Frontier patterns old and new
Philip Nanton

once again to a less flattering view of the region: that of a metropolitan-dependent periphery, populated by various forms of colonial cheats and idlers, on whom ‘civilisation’ (never a given in a frontier society) needed to be imposed. Writing about his visit to the West Indies in 1859, for example, the British novelist Anthony Trollope made repeated reference to the region’s want of ‘civilisation

in Frontiers of the Caribbean
Andrew Teverson

In a journalistic reflection on the Granta Magazine selection of the ‘Best of the Young British Novelists’ for 1993, Salman Rushdie rejects the idea, temporarily mooted in the early 1990s, that the years of Margaret Thatcher’s government (1979–90) had produced a ‘lost generation’ of writers. Such a notion, Rushdie suggests, is disproved by the most cursory survey of a literary scene that includes such budding luminaries as Louis de Bernières, Tibor Fischer, Lawrence Norfolk and A. L. Kennedy. Nevertheless,, Rushdie goes on to imply

in Salman Rushdie
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Pleasure in form
Peter Childs

–13. 30 Barnes to Rudolf Freiburg in his interview ‘Novels come out of life not out of theories’, reprinted in Guignery and Roberts, Conversations with Julian Barnes , p. 47. 31 Holmes, Julian Barnes , p. 15. 32 Quotations taken from Merritt Moseley, ‘Julian Barnes’ in Merritt Moseley (ed.), Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Novelists Since 1960 , Second Series, Volume 194, Detroit: Gale, 1998, p. 34. 33 Guignery, The Fiction of Julian Barnes , p. 67. 34

in Julian Barnes