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Books about Ian McEwan

The following resources provide critical analysis or interpretation of Ian McEwan's writing.
Additional criticism is listed on individual book pages, as well as on the various foreign language pages listed
on the Bibliography & Criticism webpage.

Conversations with Ian McEwan, edited by Ryan Roberts

Ryan Roberts, editor.
Conversations with Ian McEwan.
University Press of Mississippi, March 2010. 224 pp.
ISBN: 9781604734201

Available from the University Press of Mississippi, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or from a variety of Independent Booksellers.

 

Conversations with Ian McEwan collects sixteen interviews, conducted over three decades, with the author (b. 1948) of such highly praised novels as Enduring Love, Atonement, Saturday, and On Chesil Beach.

McEwan discusses his views on authorship, the writing process, and the major themes found in his fiction, but he also expands upon his interests in music, film, global politics, the sciences, and the state of literature in contemporary society.

McEwan's candid and forthcoming discussions with some of the greatest minds of his time - Martin Amis, Christopher Ricks, Zadie Smith, Ian Hamilton, Antony Gormley, David Remnick, and Steven Pinker - provide readers the most in-depth portrait available of the author and his works.

Readers will find McEwan to be just as engaging, humorous, and intelligent as his writings suggest. The volume includes interviews from British, Spanish, French, and American sources, two interviews previously available only in audio format, and a new interview conducted with the book's editor.


Ian McEwan:
Contemporary Critical Perspectives

Edited by Sebastian Groes

Continuum, 2009. 2nd Revised Edition, 2013.
ISBN: 9781441139221

Purchase online from Continuum, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BN.com, or a wide selection of high-quality Independent Booksellers.

 

A valuable addition to McEwan scholarship, this collection of essays from the Contemporary Critical Perspectives series helps define and guide the future course of McEwan studies.

Preface: Ian McEwan and the Rational Mind, Matt Ridley

Introduction: A Cartography of the Contemporary: Mapping Newness in the Work of Ian McEwan, Sebastian Groes (Liverpool Hope University, UK)

1. Surreal Encounters in McEwan’s Early Work, Jeanette Baxter (Anglia Ruskin University, UK)

2. ‘Profoundly Dislocating and Infinite in Possibility’: Ian McEwan’s Screenwriting, M. Hunter Hayes (Texas A&M University, USA) & Sebastian Groes (Liverpool Hope University)

3. The Innocent as anti-Oedipal Critique of Cultural Pornography, Claire Colebrook (University of Edinburgh, UK)

4. War of the Words: Atonement and the Question of Plagiarism, Natasha Alden (Aberystwyth University, UK)

5. Postmodernism and the Ethics of Fiction in Atonement, Alistair Cormack

6. Ian McEwan and Modernist Time: Atonement and Saturday, Laura Marcus (University of Edinburgh, UK)

7. Ian McEwan and the Modernist Consciousness of the City in Saturday, Sebastian Groes (Liverpool Hope University)

8. On Chesil Beach: another 'overrated' novella? Dominic Head (University of Nottingham)

9. Solar: An Ecocritical Reading, Greg Garrard

Journeys without Maps: An Interview with Ian McEwan by Jon Cook (UEA, UK), Sebastian Groes (Liverpool Hope University, UK) and Victor Sage (UEA, UK)

Includes a chronology, bibliography of further readings, and an index.


Dominic Head
Ian McEwan (Contemporary British Novelists)
Manchester University Press/ Macmillan, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7190-6657-3

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, Dominic Head uncovers the continuity as well as the sense of evolution through the oeuvre. Head makes the case for McEwan’s prominence – pre-eminence, even – in the canon of contemporary British novelists.

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David Malcolm
Understanding Ian McEwan
University of South Carolina, 2002.
ISBN: 1570034362

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One of the most comprehensive books of scholarship on Ian McEwan's works -- from his earliest short stories through Amsterdam. Chapters include:

1. Understanding Ian McEwan
2. The Short Stories: First Love, Last Rites and In between the Sheets
3. Fiction and Evil (I): The Cement Garden
4. Fiction and Evil (II): The Comfort of Strangers
5. Change, Dystopia, and the Way Out: The Child in Time
6. Brushes with History (I): The Innocent
7. Brushes with History (II): Black Dogs
8. Science and Fictions: Enduring Love
9. Other Works: Screenplays, the Oratorio, Children's Fiction, and Amsterdam

Includes a brief bibliography of additional criticism.

A must for anyone studying McEwan's work and highly recommended for general readers interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of the author.


Peter Childs
The Fiction of Ian McEwan
(Readers' Guides to Essential Criticism)
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
ISBN: 1403919097

This book introduces students to a range of critical approaches to McEwan's fiction. Criticism is drawn from selections in academic essays and articles, and reviews in newspapers, journals, magazines and websites, with editorial comment providing context, drawing attention to key points and identifying differences in critical perspectives. Also includes selections from published interviews with Ian McEwan.

 

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Jack Slay, Jr.
Ian McEwan (Twayne's English Authors Series)
Twayne Publishers, 1996.
ISBN: 0805745785

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One of the standard works on Ian McEwan. The nine chapters are as follows:

1. Meeting Ian McEwan
2. A Shock to Literature: First Love, Last Rites
3. The Momentum of Childhood Fantasy: The Cement Garden

4. Gorillas, Mannequins, and Other Lovers: In Between the Sheets
5. Danger in a Strange Land: The Comfort of Strangers
6. Warping Fantasy into Reality: The Film Scripts
7. Vandalizing Time: The Child in Time
8. And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Innocent and Black Dogs
9. Looking Forward

The book also includes a selective bibliography and an author chronology through 1994.


Ian McEwan: New British Fiction, by Lynn Wells

Lynn Wells
Ian McEwan (New British Fiction)
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. ISBN: 978-1403987815

Purchase online from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BN.com, or from a variety of quality Independent Booksellers.

Contents:

Timeline
Introduction
A Biographical Reading

The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers
The Child in Time
The Innocent
and Black Dogs
Enduring Love
Amsterdam
and On Chesil Beach
Atonement
Saturday

Author Interview
Other Writings
Critical Reception

 

'A very intelligent and knowledgeable, but also highly accessible book, containing some of the best succinct readings of McEwan's fiction to date.'
-- Professor Peter Childs, University of Gloucestershire


Unthank Books Link -- Writers In Conversation, Volume 5, Ian McEwan

Writers in Conversation with Christopher Bigsby:
Volume 5
Unthank Books, September 2013
ISBN: 9780957289727

Volume 5 in the Writers in Conversation series featuring interviews with writers taken at the Arthur Miller Centre's International Literary Festival at the University of East Anglia over the past decade.

Volume 5 contains an interview with Ian McEwan from November 2012, in which he discusses Christopher Hitchins, the secret services, his childhood, and UEA, amongst other things.

Purchase online from the publisher Unthank Books, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BN.com, or from a variety of quality Independent Booksellers.


Julie Ellam
Ian McEwan's "Atonement" (Continuum Contemporaries)
Continuum, 2009. ISBN: 978-0826445384

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A good introduction to the major themes of one of McEwan's most highly regarded novels.

1. The Novelist
2. The Novel
3. Critical Reception
4. Novel's Performance and Adaptation
5. Further Reading and Discussion Questions

 


Kiernan Ryan
Ian McEwan (Writers and Their Work)
Northcote House, 1994. ISBN: 074630742X

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A slim volume, but still of value. The ten chapters are as follows:

1. Introduction: The Art of Unease
2. Growing Pains: First Love, Last Rites
3. Sex, Violence and Complicity: In Between the Sheets
4. Keeping Mum: The Cement Garden
5. Screen Tests: Jack Flea's Birthday Celebration, Solid Geometry and The Imitation Game
6. Coming Clean: The Comfort of Strangers
7. In Time of Fear: Or Shall We Die? and The Ploughman's Lunch
8. Back to the Future: The Child in Time
9. Body Blow: The Innocent
10. Feeding the Void: Black Dogs

The book also includes a selective bibliography.


Peter Childs
Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love"
(Routledge Guides to Literature)
Routledge, 2006. ISBN: 0415345596

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Renowned author and McEwan scholar Peter Childs explores the intricacies of one of McEwan's finest novels. The book contains the following:

1. an accessible introduction to the text and contexts of Enduring Love
2. a critical history, surveying the many interpretations of the text from publication to the present
3. a selection of new and reprinted critical essays on Enduring Love, by Kiernan Ryan, Sean Matthews, Martin Randall, Paul Edwards, Rhiannon Davies and Peter Childs, providing a range of perspectives on the novel and extending the coverage of key critical approaches identified in the survey section
4. cross-references between sections of the guide, in order to suggest links between texts, contexts and criticism
5. suggestions for further reading.

Part of the Routledge Guides to Literature series, this volume is essential reading for all those beginning detailed study of Enduring Love. Recommended for teachers, students, and reading groups interested in studying McEwan's novels.

For more information about the Routledge Guides to Literature series, including a list of books about other authors, please visit the publisher's website.


Margaret Reynolds & Jonathan Noakes
Ian McEwan: The Essential Guide
(Vintage Living Texts)
Vintage, 2002. ISBN: 0099437554

In Ian McEwan: The Essential Guide, Reynolds and Noakes deal with the themes, genre, and narrative techniques employed by Ian McEwan in The Child in Time, Enduring Love, and Atonement. It also includes an interview with McEwan, detailed reading plans, questions for essays and discussion, contextual materials, suggested texts for complementary and comparative reading, a picture essay, extracts from reviews, a biography, and selected extracts from reviews.

Recommended for teachers, students, and reading groups interested in studying McEwan's novels.

For more information about the Vintage Living Texts Series, including a list of books about other authors, please visit the publisher's website.

Purchase online from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BN.com, or a wide selection of high-quality Independent Booksellers.


Ian McEwan
Atonement (Reading Guide Edition)
Vintage, 2005.
ISBN: 0099497042

This edition of Ian McEwan's classic novel Atonement includes the full text of the novel along with a helpful Reading Guide.

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Anne Rooney
York Notes on "Atonement"
(York Notes Advanced)
Longman / Prentice Hall, 2006.
ISBN: 1405835613

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A great resource for anyone studying McEwan's Atonement, whether for personal enjoyment, a book club, class, or for the A Level exams. (NOTE: York Notes are intended as a supplement to Atonement, not as a substitute for a close reading of the text.)

Far more than a simple synopsis guide, York Notes provides a rich introduction to Atonement, its major characters, style, structure, overarching themes, and narrative techniques. Each of these critical approaches are dealt with in detail by Anne Rooney, a former English instructor at the Universities of Cambridge and York and the author of over eighty books, including GCSE and A Level guides.

The glossary and countless sidebar notes are especially helpful for the beginning literature student. Also included are 2-3 page "extended commentaries" on select passages from the novel that highlight McEwan's development of characters, themes, etc. Contents are as follows:

  1. Note on the text and synopsis
  2. Detailed summaries of the novel's major sections
  3. Extended commentaries on select passages
  4. Critical approaches (Characterization, Major Themes, Language & Style, Narrative Technique & Structure)
  5. Critical History
  6. Background (McEwan's life & work, literary, historical, and social background)
  7. Includes a glossary of literary terms relevant to the novel and a brief bibliography of additional resources.

View the York Press website for additional titles in this series, or search Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or a wide selection of high-quality Independent Booksellers.


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Robert Swan, editor
AS/A-level English Literature: "Atonement"
Philip Allan Updates, 2006.
ISBN: 1844896056

AS/A-Level English Literature: "Atonement"
(Student Text Guides)

Student Text Guides are writtten by teachers and examiners for the specific needs of students of AS/A-level English Literature, whether attempting a coursework assignment or revising for an examination. They should be used as an accompaniment to the novel, not as a substitute.

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Roger Clarke & Andy Gordon
Ian McEwan's Enduring Love: A Reader's Guide
Continuum Pub Group, July 2003.
ISBN: 0826414788

A wonderful book devoted to exploring the intricacies of McEwan's Enduring Love. Includes a lengthy biographical chapter and reading/discussion questions. Chapters are as follows:

  1. The Novelist
  2. The Novel
  3. The Novel's Reception
  4. The Novel's Performance
  5. Further Reading and Discussion Questions

A must for anyone teaching or studying this novel. Great for reading groups, as well, given its low price.

Purchase online from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, BN.com, or a wide selection of high-quality Independent Booksellers.


Jane Gibson
A Level Notes for Ian McEwans Enduring Love
Cotton & Jarrett, December 2003.
ISBN: 0954652002

Intended to assist students in their preparation for the A-Level examination.

Includes three sample essays based on the work produced by the author's A-Level classes.

Excellent resource at a reasonable price!

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Coming to Terms with Crisis: Disorientation and Reorientation in the Novels of Ian McEwan
Swantje Möller

Universitätsverlag Winter, 2011
ISBN: 978-3825358808

Order a copy online via the publisher Universitätsverlag WINTER, Amazon.de, or Amazon.co.uk.

From the Publisher:

The study offers a critical reading of Ian McEwan's novels by placing them in the discourse on postmodernity and ethics. Starting from the assumption that as human beings we have a fundamental need for ethical orientation which is of particular importance in a postmodern world characterised by contingency and change, the study investigates how the themes of crisis and reorientation are negotiated in McEwan's novels.

Acknowledging the central role of alterity in these novels, the study draws its theoretical framework largely from ethicists in the Levinasian tradition who, rather than arguing for normative codes of behaviour or notions of virtue, understand ethics in terms of the interactive encounters between individuals. The study therefore aims to contribute not only to the growing body of scholarship on Ian McEwan and, to a certain extent, to reorient our understanding of his writing, but also to take part in the ongoing debate about the relationship between literature and ethics.


Anglistik
with a focus on Ian McEwan and the Media

Eds. Rüdiger Ahrens and Heinz Antor
Focus editor: Pascal Nicklas.

Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg
Vol. 21, No. 2 (2010)

Order a copy online via the publisher Universitätsverlag WINTER.

A special issue of Anglistik with a focus on the topic of Ian McEwan and the Media.

Special Focus Contents:

Pascal Nicklas: Ian McEwan and the Media (p. 7)

David Malcolm: The Media-Genic and Victorian Mr McEwan? (p. 13)

Klaus Zilles: Orientalizing Venice: Inverting the Othering Gaze in the Film Adaptation of Comfort of Strangers (p. 23)

Beata Piatek: How McEwan Makes Us See: Cinematic Techniques in The Child in Time, Black Dogs and Enduring Love (p. 31)

Adam Sumera: Ian McEwan's The Innocent: The Novel and the Movie (p. 41)

Richard Brown: A Wilderness of Mirrors: The Mediated Berlin Backgrounds for Ian McEwan's The Innocent (p. 49)

Cécile Leupolt: Resisting Media Manipulation: Ian McEwan's Politics of Scepticism in Saturday (p. 57)

Enno Ruge: Seize the Saturday: Re-viewing Ian McEwan's Saturday and Re-reading the Novels of Saul Bellow (p. 69)

Beatrix Hesse: Point of View in Atonement - Novel and Film (p. 83)

Pascal Nicklas: The Media Persona of Ian McEwan and the Mediation of the Media in Solar (p. 93)

Barbara Puschmann-Nalenz: "... occupying a position in this sort of order of living monuments": Ian McEwan in Interviews (p. 103)

View the table of contents.


Ian McEwan: Art and Politics
Pascal Nicklas

Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg, 2009
ISBN: 978-3-8253-5654-5

Order a copy online via the publisher Universitätsverlag WINTER or Amazon.co.uk.

From the Publisher:

Ian McEwan's work is paradigmatic for the intricate relationship between art and politics in British fiction. Whereas his early work is more concerned with the family and its perversions, there is a definite politicization after The Comfort of Strangers (1981). The years between McEwan's Venetian novel and The Child in Time (1987) was a period of gestation: he wrote the libretto Or Shall We Die? (1983) and the script for The Ploughman's Lunch (1985) taking up nuclear disarmament and Thatcherism. McEwan saw these works as A Move Abroad (1989) and returned to the novel with the caustically political The Child in Time.

All his later novels have strong political undertones most drastically visualized in The Innocent (1990): Otto's mutilated corpse as an image of Berlin. In Saturday (2005), the mass rally against the Iraq War in 2003 is the background against which the Perowne's Bloomsday takes place. Similarly, in Black Dogs (1992) or Amsterdam (1998) politics are shown in their complex relationship to art which is also celebrated in The Atonement (2001).


Ijan Makjuan: polifonija zla
Geopoetika, 2009.
ISBN: 9788676662043

Purchase online from Geopoetika.

Abstract from the Publisher:

Ian McEwan has demonstrated a remarkable interest in the problem of evil from the very beginning of his writing career. yet, he is not focused on the anthropology of evil but is primarily attracted to the epistemology of evil and the presentation how this encounter is reflected upon the lives of his protagonists. The structure of McEwan's novels is based on the process of initiation which his naive and inexperienced characters have to undergo. This initiation brings them the newly acquired maturity. As the nine analyzed novels (The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time, The Innocent, Black Dogs, The Daydreamer, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, and Atonement) show, love proves to be the only force which can bring atonement and rebirth.

Language: Serbian

 


C. Byrnes
The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach
Pauper Press, 2002
ISBN: 0946650756

To order the book directly from the publisher, please click on the dust jacket or the book's title.

Also by Christina Byrnes -- Sex and Sexuality in Ian McEwan's Work. Paupers' Press, 1995.

 

This thesis traces the 'metaplot' of Ian McEwan's progress, through his professional writing.

Early in his career, he gained access to elements of his unconscious through free-association, active imagination, meditation and the use of recreational drugs. These elements, which surfaced gradually and piecemeal, include strong feelings associated with the Oedipus complex, difficulties with masculine self-identification, feelings of rejection, unresolved grief, wishes to regress to the latency period of childhood, and sexuality contaminated with anal-sadistic power issues.

McEwan dealt with these themes by creating characters who expressed them through sexual deviations and violence or acted them through to their logical conclusion. Thus he was able to confront previously repressed aspects of his inner life and resolve some of his emotional problems in safety, while availing himself of rich material for his fiction.

The psychodynamic interpretations offered in this thesis depend on a detailed study of McEwan's published work. Their aim is to isolate the separate threads in the fabric of his fiction and demonstrate the maturation and increasing sophistication of his work.

www.pauperspress.com


Bernie C. Byrnes
Ian McEwan's Atonement & Saturday: A Supplement to The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach
Paupers' Press, 2006. 114 pp.
ISBN: 094665090X

 

This book supplements Byrnes's previous book on Ian McEwan: The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach.

Explores McEwan's Atonement and Saturday, two novels not included in the previous study.

To order the book directly from the publisher, please click on the dust jacket or the book's title or visit their website at www.pauperspress.com.


Bernie C. Byrnes
Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach: The Transmutation of a 'Secret' (A Supplement to The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach)
Paupers' Press, 2009. 52 pp.
ISBN: 9780946650972

To order the book directly from the publisher, please click on the dust jacket or the book's title or visit their website at www.pauperspress.com.

This book supplements Byrnes's previous book on Ian McEwan: The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach.

In 2002 The Work Of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach was published by Paupers’ Press. In it Bernie C. Byrnes traced the ‘metaplot’ of Ian McEwan’s fiction and offered psychodynamic interpretations of his published work, culminating in the Booker prize winning Amsterdam (1998). Subsequently McEwan published two more books: Atonement (2001) and Saturday (2005). Bernie C. Byrnes responded with a supple-ment to that main work which deals with those later novels in detail. This volume, a further supplement, assesses McEwan’s most recent novella.

On Chesil Beach is a novel about a disastrous wedding night. At one level McEwan wants the reader to believe that the inexperience of the protagonists, in the setting of the prevalent social customs and taboos of the early 1960s, is enough to account for this fiasco. It is easy to overlook the fact that above all On Chesil Beach is a novel about secrecy. Each of the protagonists comes from a family burdened with a secret. When the consequences of these secrets collide on the wedding night, a common and temporary difficulty, encountered by many virgins, becomes an agonizing and insoluble problem.

While it is not necessary to appreciate the whole complexity of this book, the reader who takes the story at its face value will miss the depth of its psychological insight and its relevance to the present day, and finally will be unable to appreciate the vague but fascinating connection between


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Bernie C. Byrnes
McEwan's Only Childhood: Development of a Metaplot
Paupers' Press, 2008. 63 pp.
ISBN: 0-946650-94-2

 

From the Publisher:

The revelation of David Sharp's existence has made it possible for Byrnes to review her previous hypotheses about the metaplot. The earlier explanations still hold good, based as they are on information from a careful study of his work, but the appearance of David adds a new dimension to his 'unfolding story'. Bernie C. Byrnes argues here that David Sharp's secret existence has had a profound influence on McEwan's creativity from the beginning and traces its effect through his fiction, up to and including his most recent publication On Chesil Beach (2007). A further addendum dealing with that novel is currently in preparation.

To order the book directly from the publisher, please click on the dust jacket or the book's title or visit their website at www.pauperspress.com.


Claudia Schemberg
Achieving 'At-one-ment'
Storytelling and the Concept of the
Self in Ian McEwan's The Child in Time, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, and Atonement

Peter Lang, 2004
ISBN: 3631527829
US ISBN: 0820473278

Visit the Peter Lang Website: www.peterlang.de

An interesting study, Achieving 'At-one-ment' analyses the many ways McEwan's characters and narrators 'structure their worlds, endow it with meaning, and strive for "at-one-ment" in their lives'.

Chapters include:

  1. The Storied Self in Moral Space
  2. Setting the Scene: The Postmodern Challenge to the Self
  3. Unfolding the Map of Life: Locating the Self
  4. Taking Perspectives: Stories of the Self
  5. At the Crossroads: The Impact of the Singular on the Concept of the Self
  6. Journey's End: Achieving 'At-one-ment'?
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works Cited

Claudia Schemberg studied English and French at the Universities of Kln and Southampton (1997-2004) and, at the time of publication, is writing her Ph.D. thesis. She works as a lectrice at New Hall, Cambridge (UK).

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Gaetano D'Eliva and Christopher Williams
La Nuova Letteratura Inglese Ian McEwan
Schena Editore, v. le Stazione
177-72015 Fasano (Br Italia), 1986


Richard Pedot
Perversions Textuelles dans la Fiction d'Ian McEwan
Editions l'Harmattan, 1999

Contact the Publisher:

Editions l'Harmattan
5-7 rue de l'Ecole-Polytechique
75005 Paris, France


Dr. Christopher Williams
Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden and the Tradition of the Child/Adolescent as 'I-Narrator'
Biblioteca della Ricerca
Schena Editore, 1993

This pamphlet is made available courtesy of Dr. Christopher Williams.

 

   
  
Novels:    The Cement Garden    The Comfort of Strangers    The Child in Time    The Innocent    Black Dogs       
Enduring Love    Amsterdam    Atonement    Saturday    On Chesil Beach   Solar   Sweet Tooth
The Children Act
Stories:    First Love, Last Rites    In Between the Sheets   
  Children's Fiction:    Rose Blanche    The Daydreamer   
Screenplays:    The Imitation Game & Other Plays    The Ploughman's Lunch    Soursweet  
Oratorio / Libretto:    Or Shall We Die?      For You
 

Last update: 14 December 2014
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