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2077.Читаем роман «Искупление» Й. Макьюэна = Reading “Atonement” by I

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Министерство образования и науки Российской Федерации
Федеральное государственное бюджетное образовательное учреждение
высшего профессионального образования
«Тульский государственный педагогический университет
имени Л. Н. Толстого»
Ж. Е. Фомичева,
С. М. Кунеркина
ЧИТАЕМ РОМАН «ИСКУПЛЕНИЕ»
Й. МАКЬЮЭНА
Учебно-методическое пособие
по дисциплине «Практика устной и письменной речи»
(аспект «Домашнее чтение»)
Допущено Учебно-методическим объединением
по направлениям педагогического образования
в качестве учебного пособия
по направлению «Педагогическое образование»
2-е издание
Тула
Издательство ТГПУ им. Л. Н. Толстого
2012
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ББК 81.2Англ.-923
Ф76
Рецензенты:
кандидат культурологии, доцент кафедры литературы
и духовного наследия Л. Н. Толстого Т. В. Колчева
(Тульский государственный педагогический университет им. Л. Н. Толстого);
доктор филологических наук, профессор,
доцент кафедры английского языка № 5 Е. В. Пономаренко
(МГИМО (У) МИД РФ)
Фомичева, Ж. Е.
Ф76
Читаем роман «Искупление» Й. Макьюэна = Reading
“Atonement” by I. McEwan: Учеб.-метод. пособие по дисциплине
«Практика устной и письменной речи» (аспект «Домашнее
чтение») / Ж. Е. Фомичева, С. М. Кунеркина.– 2-е изд.– Тула: Издво Тул. гос. пед. ун-та им. Л. Н. Толстого, 2012.– 165 с.
ISBN 978-5-87954-689-7
Предлагаемая работа представляет собой учебное пособие по курсу «Практика
устной и письменной речи» (аспект «Домашнее чтение») для студентов старших
курсов английского отделения, обучающихся по программе подготовки бакалавра по
направлениям 032700 «Филология» (профиль подготовки «Зарубежная филология»),
031100 «Лингвистика», 050100 «Педагогическое образование» (профиль подготовки
«Иностранный язык»), а также для магистрантов, обучающихся по профессиональнообразовательной программе «Языковое образование» направления «Педагогическое
образование».
В пособии представлен материал для углубленного и всестороннего прочтения
и изучения романа Й. Макьюэна «Искупление». Оно вводит биографический, литературно-критический, стилистический, языковой, энциклопедический и методический
материал, предусмотренный рабочей программой.
Представленный в пособии комплекс упражнений нацелен на развитие навыков
аналитического чтения, а также навыков устной и письменной речи английского
языка, и формирование коммуникативной и литературной компетенций.
ББК 81.2Англ.-923
ISBN 978-5-87954-689-7
© Ж. Е. Фомичева, С. М. Кунеркина, 2012
© ТГПУ им. Л. Н. Толстого, 2012
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ПРЕДИСЛОВИЕ
Настоящее учебное пособие, подготовленное на кафедре английской
филологии Тульского государственного педагогического университета
им. Л. Н. Толстого, предназначено для студентов старших курсов
факультета иностранных языков.
Пособие нацелено на освоение студентами программы по подготовке
бакалавра по направлениям 032700 «Филология» (профиль подготовки
«Зарубежная
филология»),
031100
«Лингвистика»,
050100
«Педагогическое образование» (профиль подготовки «Иностранный
язык»), а так же для магистров, обучающихся по профессиональнообразовательной программе «Языковое образование» направления
«Педагогическое образование».
Данное пособие представляет разнообразный материал для
углубленного изучения романа Й. Макьюэна «Искупление» ( Ian McEwan
“Atonement”). Основной целью данного пособия является формирование
коммуникативной и языковой компетенций у студентов старших курсов.
Пособие
включает
биографический,
литературно-критический,
стилистический, языковой, энциклопедический и методический материал.
Пособие так же содержит текстологический разбор обширного и
разнообразного материала из английской литературы и ориентирует
студентов на глубокое и детальное понимание художественного
произведения.
Раздел Before Reading Atonement
содержит две части: первая
Introduction to
the Postmodernist Movement представляет материал,
раскрывающий понятие постмодернизма как направления в искусстве и
литературной англоязычной традиции. Здесь так же освещаются основные
характеристики постмодернистской литературы. Второй раздел пособия
Understanding Ian McEwan содержит материал, который знакомит
студентов с творческой биографией Й. Макьюэна, представляет
текстологический обзор
романов Й. Макьюэна. В данном блоке
представлены методически разноцелевые задания: answer the questions,
make a summary, fill in the gaps, match the definitions.
Раздел Reading Atonement содержит ряд разнообразных заданий,
направленных на контроль понимания студентами содержания изучаемого
романа в соответствии с главами. К каждой главе романа разработан
единый комплекс упражнений, который не только проверяет знание и
понимание содержания главы, но и отрабатывает употребление новых
языковых единиц, формирует навыки литературного перевода. В данный
комплекс также входят литературно-критические статьи, которые
позволяют более подробно и детально рассмотреть проблемы и темы,
освещаемые в главе, изучить текст романа с позиций литературно3
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стилистического анализа, расширить и обогатить общекультурные
знания в целом.
Заключительный раздел After Reading Atonement представляет
материал для финальной дискуссии. Наряду с этим, данный раздел
включает задания по формированию навыков письменной речи; так же
здесь представлен блок литературно-критических статей и упражнений,
представляющий обзор и оценку романа Й. Макьюэна «Искупление».
Данный блок заданий нацелен не только на формирование навыков устной
и письменной речи, но и способности выразить и аргументировать свою
собственную точку зрения. В конце раздела представлен ряд заданий для
просмотра и обсуждения фильма «Искупление», который является
логическим завершением изучения романа Й. Макьюэна «Искупление».
Представленное пособие позволит в полной мере овладеть языковым
и литературно-стилистическим материалом, необходимым для изучения
романа Й. Макьюэна «Искупление». Внедрение в учебный процесс на
факультете иностранных языков указанного пособия позволит успешно
расширить многие собственно педагогические задачи, такие как:
реализация принципа индивидуализации учебного процесса; повышение
эффективности познавательной деятельности студентов; широкое
внедрение принципа интерактивности, а так же реализовать полученные
знания в рамках речевого общения в широком лингвокультурном аспекте.
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Introduction to the Postmodernist Movement
What are the characteristics of Postmodernism?
When listing the characteristics of postmodernism, it is important to
remember that postmodernists do not place their philosophy in a defined box or
category. Their beliefs and practices are personal rather than being identifiable
with a particular establishment or special interest group. The following
principles appear elemental to postmodernists:
1.
There is no absolute truth - Postmodernists believe that the notion of truth
is a contrived illusion, misused by people and special interest groups to gain
power over others.
2.
Truth and error are synonymous - Facts, postmodernists claim, are too
limiting to determine anything. Changing erratically, what is fact today can be
false tomorrow.
3.
Self-conceptualization and rationalization - Traditional logic and
objectivity are spurned by postmodernists. Preferring to rely on opinions rather
than embrace facts, postmodernists spurn the scientific method.
4.
Traditional authority is false and corrupt - Postmodernists speak out
against the constraints of religious morals and secular authority. They wage
intellectual revolution to voice their concerns about traditional establishment.
5.
Ownership - They claim that collective ownership would most fairly
administrate goods and services.
6.
Disillusionment with modernism - Postmodernists rue the unfulfilled
promises of science, technology, government, and religion.
7.
Morality is personal - Believing ethics to be relative, postmodernists
subject morality to personal opinion. They define morality as each person’s
private code of ethics without the need to follow traditional values and rules.
8.
Globalization – Many postmodernists claim that national boundaries are a
hindrance to human communication. Nationalism, they believe, causes wars.
Therefore, postmodernists often propose internationalism and uniting separate
countries.
9.
All religions are valid - Valuing inclusive faiths, postmodernists gravitate
towards New Age religion. They denounce the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ
as being the only way to God.
10. Liberal ethics - Postmodernists defend the cause of feminists and
homosexuals.
11. Pro-environmentalism - Defending “Mother Earth,” postmodernists blame
Western society for its destruction.
(Amiran, Eyal and Unsworth, John, Essays in Postmodern Culture, 1993)
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Introduction to Postmodern Literature
Postmodernism is the term applied by some commentators since yearly 1980s
to the ensemble of cultural features characteristic of Western societies in the
aftermath of artistic modernism. In this view, “postmodernity” asserts itself from
about 1956 exhaustion of the high Modernist project, reflected in the work of
Beckett among others, and the huge cultural impact of television and popular
music. Many disputant maintain that literary works described as
“postmodernist” are really continuations of the Modernist tradition but some
generally literary features of the period have been identified as typical, including
tendencies to parody, pastiche, skepticism, irony, fatalism, the mix of “high” and
“low” cultural allusions, and an indifference to the redemptive mission of Art as
conceived by the Modernist pioneers.
Postmodernism thus favours random play than purposeful action, surface
rather than depth. The kinds of literary work that have been described as
postmodernist include the Theatre of the Absurd and some experimental poetry.
Most commonly, though, it is prose fiction that is held to exemplify the
postmodernist mood and style, notably in works by American novelists such as
Nabokov, Barth, Pynchon, and Vonnegut, and by the British authors Fowels,
A.Carter, Rushdie, J. Barnes, Ackroyd, and Winterson. Outside the Englishspeaking world, the fictions of Borges, and the later work of Italo Calvino show
similar tendencies. Distinctive features of this school include switching between
orders of reality and fantasy, resort to metafiction, and the playful undermining
of supposedly objective kinds of knowledge such as biography and history.
The distrust of totalizing mechanisms extends even to the author and his own
self-awareness; thus postmodern writers often celebrate chance over craft and
employ metafiction to undermine the author's "univocation" (the existence of
narrative primacy within a text, the presence of a single all-powerful storytelling
authority. The distinction between high and low culture is also attacked with the
employment of pastiche, the combination of multiple cultural elements including
subjects and genres not previously deemed fit for literature.
Notable Influences
Postmodernist writers often point to early novels and story collections as
inspiration for their experiments with narrative and structure: Don Quixote, 1001
Arabian Nights, The Decameron, and Candide, among many others. In the
English language, Laurence Sterne's 1759 novel The Life and Opinions of
Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, with its heavy emphasis on parody and narrative
experimentation, is often cited as an early influence on postmodernism. There
were many 19th century examples of attacks on Enlightenment concepts,
parody, and playfulness in literature, including Lord Byron's satire, especially
Don Juan; Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus; Alfred Jarry's ribald Ubu parodies
and his invention of 'Pataphysics; Lewis Carrol's playful experiments with
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signification; the work of Isidore Ducasse, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde.
Playwrights who worked in the late 19th and early 20th century whose thought
and work would serve as an influence on the aesthetic of postmodernism include
Swedish dramatist August Strindberg, the Italian author Luigi Pirandello, and
the German playwright and theorist Bertolt Brecht. In the 1910s, artists
associated with Dadaism celebrated chance, parody, playfulness, and attacked
the central role of the artist. Tristan Tzara claimed in "How to Make a Dadaist
Poem" that to create a Dadaist poem one had only to put random words in a hat
and pull them out one by one. Another way Dadaism influenced postmodern
literature was in the development of collage, specifically collages using
elements from advertisement or illustrations from popular novels (the collages
of Max Ernst, for example). Artists associated with Surrealism, which developed
from Dadaism, continued experimentations with chance and parody while
celebrating the flow of the subconscious mind. André Breton, the founder of
Surrealism, suggested that automatism and the description of dreams should
play a greater role in the creation of literature. He used automatism to create his
novel Nadja and used photographs to replace description as a parody of the
overly-descriptive novelists he often criticized.
(Lewis, Barry, Postmodernism and Literature, 2002)
Comparisons with Modernist Literature
Both modern and postmodern literature represent a break from 19th century
realism. In character development, both modern and postmodern literature
explore subjectivism, turning from external reality to examine inner states of
consciousness, in many cases drawing on modernist examples in the stream of
consciousness styles of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, or explorative poems
like The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot. In addition, both modern and postmodern
literature explore fragmentariness in narrative- and character-construction. The
Waste Land is often cited as a means of distinguishing modern and postmodern
literature. The poem is fragmentary and employs pastiche like much postmodern
literature, but the speaker in The Waste Land says, "these fragments I have
shored against my ruins". Modernist literature sees fragmentation and extreme
subjectivity as an existential crisis, or Freudian internal conflict, a problem that
must be solved, and the artist is often cited as the one to solve it. Postmodernists,
however, often demonstrate that this chaos is insurmountable; the artist is
impotent, and the only recourse against "ruin" is to play within the chaos.
Playfulness is present in many modernist works (Joyce's Finnegans Wake or
Virginia Woolf's Orlando, for example) and they may seem very similar to
postmodern works, but with postmodernism playfulness becomes central and the
actual achievement of order and meaning becomes unlikely.
(Lewis, Barry, Postmodernism and Literature, 2002)
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Common themes and techniques
All of these themes and techniques are often used together. For example,
metafiction and pastiche are often used for irony.
Irony, Playfulness, Black Humor
Linda Hutcheon claimed postmodern fiction as a whole could be
characterized by the ironic quote marks that much of it can be taken as tonguein-cheek. This irony, along with black humor and the general concept of "play"
(related to Derrida's concept or the ideas advocated by Roland Barthes in The
Pleasure of the Text) are among the most recognizable aspects of
postmodernism. Though the idea of employing these in literature did not start
with the postmodernists (the modernists were often playful and ironic), they
became central features in many postmodern works. In fact, several novelists
later to be labeled postmodern were first collectively labeled black humorists:
John Barth, Joseph Heller, William Gaddis, Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Jay
Friedman, etc. It's common for postmodernists to treat serious subjects in a
playful and humorous way: for example, the way Heller, Vonnegut, and
Pynchon address the events of World War II. A good example of postmodern
irony and black humor is found in the stories of Donald Barthelme; "The
School", for example, is about the ironic death of plants, animals, and people
connected to the children in one class, but the inexplicable repetition of death is
treated only as a joke and the narrator remains emotionally distant throughout.
The central concept of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 is the irony of the nowidiomatic "catch-22", and the narrative is structured around a long series of
similar ironies. Thomas Pynchon in particular provides prime examples of
playfulness, often including silly wordplay, within a serious context. The Crying
of Lot 49, for example, contains characters named Mike Fallopian and Stanley
Koteks and a radio station called KCUF, while the novel as a whole has a
serious subject and a complex structure.
(Linda Hutcheon, Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, 2004)
Intertextuality
Since postmodernism represents a decentered concept of the universe in
which individual works are not isolated creations, much of the focus in the study
of postmodern literature is on intertextuality: the relationship between one text
(a novel for example) and another or one text within the interwoven fabric of
literary history. Critics point to this as an indication of postmodernism’s lack of
originality and reliance on clichés. Intertextuality in postmodern literature can
be a reference or parallel to another literary work, an extended discussion of a
work, or the adoption of a style. In postmodern literature this commonly
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manifests as references to fairy tales – as in works by Margaret Atwood, Donald
Barthelme, and many other – or in references to popular genres such as sci-fi
and detective fiction. An early 20th century example of intertextuality which
influenced later postmodernists is “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” by
Jorge Luis Borges, a story with significant references to Don Quixote which is
also a good example of intertextuality with its references to Medieval romances.
Don Quixote is a common reference with postmodernists, for example Kathy
Acker's novel Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream. Another example of
intertextuality in postmodernism is John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor which
deals with Ebenezer Cooke’s poem of the same name. Often intertextuality is
more complicated than a single reference to another text. Robert Coover’s
Pinocchio in Venice, for example, links Pinocchio to Thomas Mann’s Death in
Venice. Also, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose takes on the form of a
detective novel.
(Brian McHale, Postmodernist Fiction, 2001)
Pastiche
Related to postmodern intertextuality, pastiche means to combine, or "paste"
together, multiple elements. In Postmodernist literature this can be homage to or
a parody of past styles. It can be seen as a representation of the chaotic,
pluralistic, or information-drenched aspects of postmodern society. It can be a
combination of multiple genres to create a unique narrative or to comment on
situations in postmodernity: for example, William S. Burroughs uses science
fiction, detective fiction, westerns; Margaret Atwood uses science fiction and
fairy tales; Umberto Eco uses detective fiction, fairy tales, and science fiction,
Derek Pell relies on collage and noir detective, erotica, travel guides, and how-to
manuals, and so on. Though pastiche commonly refers to the mixing of genres,
many other elements are also included (metafiction and temporal distortion are
common in the broader pastiche of the postmodern novel). For example,
Thomas Pynchon includes in his novels elements from detective fiction, science
fiction, and war fiction; songs; pop culture references; well-known, obscure, and
fictional history mixed together; real contemporary and historical figures
(Mickey Rooney and Wernher Von Braun for example); a wide variety of wellknown, obscure and fictional cultures and concepts. In Robert Coover's 1977
novel The Public Burning, Coover mixes historically inaccurate accounts of
Richard Nixon interacting with historical figures and fictional characters such as
Uncle Sam and Betty Crocker. Pastiche can also refer to compositional
technique, for example the cut-up technique employed by Burroughs. Another
example is B. S. Johnson's 1969 novel The Unfortunates; it was released in a
box with no binding so that readers could assemble it however they chose.
(Linda Hutcheon, Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction, 2004)
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Poioumena
Poioumenon (plural, "poioumena") is a term coined by Alastair Fowler to
refer to a specific type of metafiction in which the story is about the process of
creation. In many cases, the book will be about the process of creating the book
or includes a central metaphor for this process. A common example of this is
Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy which is about the narrator's frustrated
attempt to tell his own story. A significant postmodern example is Vladimir
Nabokov's Pale Fire, in which the narrator, Kinbote, claims he is writing an
analysis of John Shade's long poem "Pale Fire", but the narrative of the
relationship between Shade and Kinbote is presented in what is ostensibly the
footnote to the poem. Similarly, the self-conscious narrator in Salman Rushdie's
Midnight's Children parallels the creation of his book to the creation of chutney
and the creation of independent India. Other postmodern examples of
poioumena include Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, John Fowles's
Mantissa, and William Golding's Paper Men, and Gilbert Sorrentino's Mulligan
Stew.
(The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 1998)
Historiographic metafiction
Linda Hutcheon coined the term "historiographic metafiction" to refer to
works that fictionalize actual historical events or figures; notable examples
include The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez (about Simón
Bolívar), Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (about Gustave Flaubert), Ragtime
by E. L. Doctorow (which features such historical figures as Harry Houdini,
Henry Ford, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Booker T. Washington,
Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung), and Rabih Alameddine's Koolaids: The Art of War
which makes references to the Lebanese Civil War and various real life political
figures. Thomas Pynchon's Mason and Dixon also employs this concept; for
example, a scene featuring George Washington smoking marijuana is included.
John Fowles deals similarly with the Victorian Period in The French
Lieutenant's Woman. In regards to critical theory, this technique can be related
to The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes.
(The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 1998)
Temporal Distortion
This is a common technique in modernist fiction: fragmentation and nonlinear narratives are central features in both modern and postmodern literature.
Temporal distortion in postmodern fiction is used in a variety of ways, often for
the sake of irony. Historiographic metafiction (see above) is an example of this.
Distortions in time are central features in many of Kurt Vonnegut's non-linear
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novels, the most famous of which is perhaps Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse
Five becoming "unstuck in time". In Flight to Canada, Ishmael Reed deals
playfully with anachronisms, Abraham Lincoln using a telephone for example.
Time may also overlap, repeat, or bifurcate into multiple possibilities. For
example, in Robert Coover's "The Babysitter" from Pricksongs & Descants, the
author presents multiple possible events occurring simultaneously—in one
section the babysitter is murdered while in another section nothing happens and
so on—yet no version of the story is favored as the correct version.
(The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 1998)
Review Questions
1.
How can we define the postmodern literature in a general sense?
2.
What did the postmodern authors use as inspiration for their works?
3.
What served as an influence on the aesthetics of postmodern literature?
4.
How can we differentiate modernism and postmodernism? What is the
difference in these movements?
5.
What are the main techniques used by postmodern writers?
6.
How are such techniques as irony, playfulness and humor introduced in
postmodern literature? Give examples.
7.
In what way is the intertextuality represented in postmodern writing? Give
examples.
8.
What is pastiche? How does it work in postmodern novels? Give
examples.
9.
What is poioumena? How is it revealed in postmodern writing? Give
examples.
10. Is temporal distortion relevant to postmodern novels? How is it
expressed?
11. Summing up all the techniques applied by postmodern writers guess what
image, impression, feeling they create? Give examples.
Make Sure You Know the Literary Terms
Match the literary terms with their definitions.
a. the use of humour, irony, exaggeration,
1.
Parody
or ridicule to expose and criticize people's
stupidity or vices; ( a literary genre).
2.
Playfulness
b. an imitation of the style of a particular
writer, artist, or genre with deliberate
3.
Satire
exaggeration for comic effect.
c. a disposition to find (or make) causes
4.
Dadaism
for amusement.
d. a literary style in which a character's
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5.
Surrealism
6.
Stream of consciousness
7.
Pastiche
8.
Irony
9.
Black humour
10.
Wordplay
11.
Intertextuality
12.
Poioumena
13.
Metafiction
14.
Temporal distortion
thoughts, feelings, and reactions are
depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted
by objective description or conventional
dialogue. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and
Marcel Proust are among its notable early
exponents.
e. a 20th -century avant-garde movement
in art and literature which sought to release
the creative potential of the unconscious
mind, for example by the irrational
juxtaposition of images.
f. an early 20th -century movement in
art, literature, music, and film, repudiating
and mocking artistic and social conventions
and emphasizing the illogical and absurd.
g. the complex interrelationship between
a text and other texts taken as basic to the
creation or interpretation of the text.
h. the use of words to express something
other than and especially the opposite of the
literal meaning; a usually humorous or
sardonic literary style or form.
i. twists of time; a misrepresentation.
j. an artistic work in a style that imitates
that of another work , artist, or period.
k. a humorous way of looking at or
treating something that is serious or sad; the
juxtaposition of morbid and farcical
element to give a disturbing effect.
l. In this genre the central strand of the
action purports to be the work’s own
composition, although it is really “about”
something else.
m. playful use of words; verbal wit; the
witty exploitation of the meanings and
ambiguities of words.
n. fiction in which the author selfconsciously alludes to the artificiality or
literariness of a work by parodying or
departing from novelistic conventions and
traditional narrative techniques.
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Understanding Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan is a professional writer who has lived by his writing for almost
a quarter of a century. McEwan's family background, however, was anything but
literary. He was born in 1948 in the British military town of Aldershot. His
mother, Rose, was a local woman whose husband had died during World War II,
leaving her with two children. After the war she married David McEwan, a
Scottish sergeant major in the British Army. McEwan discusses his parents and
their background in an interview published in 1978. Both had known difficult
circumstances. When he was about eight years old, his father became an officer
(in British terms, a social as well as a military promotion). It was in Libya that
McEwan claims to have had his first sense of the force of history and politics.
Watching his father organizing matters, "a service revolver strapped around his
waist," made McEwan understand "for the first time that political events were
real and affected people's lives—they were not just stories in the papers that
grown-ups read."'
In 1978 McEwan described his father as "handsome" and "domineering" and
his mother, on the other hand, as "a very gentle woman, very easily tyrannized."
From 1959 to 1966 McEwan attended a government-funded boarding school for
boys in Sussex in the south of England. In 1970, having graduated from Sussex,
he took the opportunity to earn an M.A. degree at the also newly established
University of East Anglia, a degree that offered him, at that time unusual,
possibility of submitting "a little bit of fiction" to make up about a sixth of the
course work for the master's degree.'
After East Anglia and after a trip by bus "on the hippy trail" to Afghanistan
in 1972, McEwan followed a literary career. But from the mid-1970s his career
took off. Since 1975 he has published two volumes of short stories (First Love,
Last Rites [1975] and In between the Sheets [1978]) and seven novels—The
Cement Garden (1978), The Comfort of Strangers (1981), The Child in Time
(1987), The Innocent (1989), Black Dogs (1992), Enduring Love (1997), and
Amsterdam (1998). He has published one substantial collection of stories for
children, The Daydreamer (1995). He has always found publishers for his work,
has always been taken seriously by reviewers (even when they disapproved of
his fiction), and has won many prizes and much prestige in the course of a productive twenty-five years. First Love, Last Rites won the Somerset Maugham
Award in 1975. The Comfort of Strangers was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in
1981; his movie script The Ploughman's Lunch won the Evening Standard
Award for the best screenplay of 1983; McEwan was made a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Literature in 1984; The Child in Time won the Whitbread
Novel of the Year Award in 1987; he was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by the
University of Sussex in 1989; Black Dogs was shortlisted for the Booker Prize
in 1993; and Amsterdam won the Booker Prize in 1998. Films have been made
of The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, and The Innocent, and
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McEwan himself has achieved success as a scriptwriter both in the British movie
and television industry and in Hollywood.
McEwan has always been taken seriously by critics and scholars, although
they have not always liked his books. Kiernan Ryan summarizes "the received
wisdom" about McEwan's work.
“McEwan started out the seventies as a writer obsessed with the perverse,
the grotesque, the macabre. The secret of his appeal lay in his stylish morbidity,
in the elegant detachment with which he chronicled acts of sexual abuse,
sadistic torment and pure insanity. But towards the close of the decade his
writing underwent a marked evolution as a result of his increasing involvement
with feminism and the peace movement. His politically committed work for the
cinema and television turned out to be a watershed in his career, from which his
fiction emerged transformed. The claustrophobic menace of the stories and his
first two novels gave way in the eighties to a more mature engagement with the
wider world of history and society. The clammy feel of impending evil which
fouled the atmosphere of his early fiction was dispelled by an emerging
apprehension of the power of love and the possibility of redemption”.
(Ryan, Kiernan, Ian McEwan, 1994)
Ryan goes on to stress that this version of McEwan's career to 1994 obscures
the continuities in his work. He does not simply become a right-thinking, social
prophet in the mid-1980s; dark nightmares still haunt his work. But the story is
persuasive, and it is supported by McEwan himself. As early as 1977, after
completing The Cement Garden, he recalls, "I felt I had written myself into too
tight a corner; I had made deliberate use of material too restricted to allow me to
write about the ideas that had interested me for some years.
In an interview from 1985 he says that a step into greater social and political
awareness "was something I intended, because I had begun to feel rather trapped
by the kind of thing I had been writing. I had been labeled as the chronicler of
comically exaggerated psychopathic states of mind or of adolescent anxiety,
snot and pimples. In writing The Imitation Game I stepped out into the world."
(Haffenden, John, Novelists in Interview, 1985)
McEwan emphasizes the direct social and political concerns of his 1983
oratorio, Or Shall We Die?, in his Introduction to the text, and most critical
responses to The Child in Time from 1987 note the way in which McEwan has
broadened his concerns from the hermetically and luridly psychopathological
world of the early fiction to achieve a new maturity in his examination of social
issues and his endorsement of the possibilities of redemption. The Child in Time,
with its positive, adult ending, does mark a point of change in McEwan's fiction.
Thereafter, in The Innocent and in Black Dogs, although there are nightmarish
episodes and events, the vision of the world seems more benign. Certainly, both
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novels are much more engaged with the social, political, and historical than The
Cement Garden or The Comfort of Strangers.
The story changes, however, after the mid-1990s. McEwan's latest fiction,
Enduring Love and Amsterdam, shows the author moving in a different direction
from the one sketched out in the received wisdom of 1994. Enduring Love is a
return to the hectic, closed-in, psychologically disturbed world of the early
fiction, while Amsterdam is a thoroughly sour account of human shabbiness and
frailty without a single moment of redemption. (Indeed, in Enduring Love, too,
the power of love that could save characters and maybe even the nation in The
Child in Time has become a terribly fragile thing, or a matter of pathological
obsession.) Critics have noted some of this change, but it has not diminished
McEwan's stature. He remains a major British novelist of the late twentieth
century and a highly respected professional writer.
Where does McEwan stand in relation to this particularly dynamic period in
British fiction? The answer is that he is firmly part of the dominant trends in the
1980s and 1990s fiction, but also shows interesting divergences from them. In
terms of his contemporaries' concern with history, McEwan's novels and other
writing both share that interest and also focus on the world in a rather different
way. The interest in history and in the connected area of public, national life is
very marked in The Child in Time, which is, in many ways, a head-on
engagement with the dominant political ideology of the 1980s Britain and a
denunciation of what Conservative Party politics have brought (and might yet
bring) to the country. The Innocent is a kind of historical novel, a careful
reconstruction of mid-1950s Berlin and of an English frame of mind from that
time. In Black Dogs, of course, the historical permeates the whole text. Postwar
British communism, the legacy of World War II, Poland in 1981, the fall of the
Berlin Wall—all these are the conditions and the circumstances of June and
Bernard's failed marriage and of Jeremy's fascinated pursuit of the causes of that
failure. Clearly, McEwan's screenplays The Imitation Game and The Ploughman's
Lunch are key texts in which McEwan in the mid-1980s starts most certainly to
move from the almost asocial and ahistorical psychological concerns of his early
fiction toward an engagement with wider historical and social issues.
But the picture is not as simple as that. The chapters in this study on The
Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers indicate that these novels are not
wholly without a sense of history and wider society. In The Comfort of
Strangers, Colin and Mary attempt to cut themselves off from the wider world
of the past of the city they visit, only to be confronted and destroyed by figures
from that world and from that past. One should also note that McEwan's two
most recent novels, Enduring Love and Amsterdam, demonstrate a complicated
position toward the historical and the social. In Enduring Love, the characters
are almost entirely removed from these settings. Joe, Clarissa, and Jed inhabit a
world that is almost completely without the social, political, and historical
determinants of that of The Child in Time, The Innocent, and Black Dogs.
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The cosmopolitanism that is so much a part of British fiction in the 1980s
and 1990s is something that weaves in and out of McEwan's fiction. It is clearly
there in The Comfort of Strangers with its quasi-Venetian setting and its
allusions to German literature. The Innocent and Black Dogs flaunt their
cosmopolitanism. The Child in Time, however, is a late-twentieth-century
"condition-of-England" novel, and it would be difficult to imagine more
hermetically English novels than The Cement Garden and Enduring Love.
Metafictional concerns, that is, self-reflexive concerns with fiction's
possibilities and problems, permeate British fiction in the 1980s and 1990s.
McEwan's fiction stands in complex and interesting relationship to this
tendency. He is certainly frequently concerned with literature itself as a topic,
and the difficulties, possibilities and complexities of giving an account of things
and of telling stories in general.
(Malcolm, David, Understanding Ian McEwan, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Comment on McEwan’s background.
2. What was McEwan’s attitude towards the parents?
3. What can be said about McEwan’s education?
4. What event can be treated as a starting point of McEwan’s literary career?
5. Name and comment on McEwan’s works.
6. What was the attitude of critics to Ian McEwan?
7. Comment on Ryan Kiernan’s review of McEwan’s work.
8. Is Ryan Kiernan’s review more approving or disapproving? Do you agree
with Kiernan’s point of view?
9. How does McEwan see his own writing? What represents the greatest
importance for him?
10. Summarize the information and characterize McEwan’s fiction in
chronological sequence (70-s, 80-s, and 90-s). Define the major peculiar
features of each period. Give examples.
11. What is McEwan’s role in British contemporary fiction?
Focus on Vocabulary
Check up the words in the box in the dictionary and then use them to complete
the sentences given below.
Macabre, detachment, perverse, insanity, menace,
clammy, impending, foul, dispel, redemption.
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1. Even the police were horrified at the ____ nature of the killings.
2. After divorce he felt a sense of ____ from what was going on in the
world.
3. She has a rather ____ sense of humour.
4. His skin felt cold and ____.
5. Drunk drivers are a ____ to everyone.
6. The publicity wants all the factories which _____ the atmosphere to
be closed down.
7. She woke up with a strong feeling of ____ disaster.
8. The brightness of the day did nothing to ____ Elaine’s dejection.
9. His marginalization from the Hollywood jungle proved to be his ____
10. He was found not guilty of murder by reason of ____.
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Making a Close-up
Now we are going to take a closer look onto Ian McEwan’s fiction and
analyze some of his most significant works.
McEwan's first novel, The Cement Garden (1978), seemed to most
reviewers to continue the preoccupations of the short stories. Indeed, as a short
novel itself, it could be considered a treatment at greater length of familiar
McEwan territory, including sibling rivalry, taboo sex, and the simmering threat
of violence. With a small cast of barely more than six characters in the novel
there is as strong a sense of intimacy and insularity as in the stories, but at its
core the novel is about the ways in which a family of orphaned children stick
together. Its narrator is the second oldest of four children, Jack, a 14-year-old
whose Oedipal desires come true when his father collapses and dies of a
coronary while building the cement garden of the title: 'Because of his heart
attack my father was forbidden this kind of work but I made sure he took as
much weight as 1 did' (C, 13). When their mother dies shortly afterwards, Jack
and his three siblings do not report the death to the authorities but simply bury
her corpse in cement in the basement. Each of the four children responds to their
loss and subsequent fragile independence differently, but the dominant
movement is one of regression. The story ends with Derek, the boyfriend of
Jack's older sister, Julie, breaking into the mother's concrete tomb, and the police
arriving at the house immediately after Jack and Julie have sex for the first time,
as though installing themselves as the new parents in the family home.
The Comfort of Strangers (1981) is narrower again in its range of characters
but a little broader in its setting. It is perhaps more easily considered an example
of 'literature of shock' than any of McEwan's other novels. Apparently set in
Venice, The Comfort of Strangers tells the story of a tourist couple, Colin and
Mary, who become involved with a local man, Robert. When they meet Robert's
wife Caroline, Colin and Mary grow to realize that the older couple are involved
in a sadomasochistic relationship. The book, whose central subject is male
violence, draws parallels between the two couples, but builds towards Robert's
premeditated murder of Colin. Through the arc of his simple, parabolic
narrative, McEwan seems to take Blanche DuBois's famous assertion, from
Tennessee Williams's 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire, that she has always
'relied on the kindness of strangers', and turn it on its head to explore the way in
which travellers are at the mercy of others when holidaying in alien
surroundings. In several ways, McEwan's second and equally short novel
appears to share the interest in isolation and incest evident in his first, largely
because the central couple of The Comfort of Strangers are so close they could
almost be brother and sister - to the extent that they sometimes find it difficult to
remember they are separate individuals (CS, 17). Holidaying on the continent,
Colin and Mary sleep in the afternoon, talk little, and do not even have the
energy or motivation to tidy their hotel room. They revert to a child-like state,
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reliant on their hotel maid: 'they came to depend on her and grew lazy with their
possessions. They became incapable of looking after one another' (CS, 12).
Where Jack and Julie in the earlier novel are adolescents who prematurely
become adults in the familial home, Colin and Mary are adults (she divorced
with children) who revert to an earlier stage of life in the unfamiliar temporary
home of a foreign hotel. In both The Cement Garden and The Comfort of
Strangers there is an almost solipsistic feel to the lives of the main characters, a
family and a couple into whose midst strangers come in search of sex and
power. In each novel, too great a closeness creates its own problems for the
protagonists, and they are presented as deeply vulnerable to outsiders who can
expose the dangers of, and prey upon, their intimacy: 'with each step the city
would recede as [Colin and Mary] locked tighter into each other's presence' (CS,
13). The Comfort of Strangers was shortlisted for the Booker Prize but was a
controversial novel on publication because McEwan had chosen to explore
sadomasochistic relationships.
McEwan's third novel is thematically linked to his first two. As in The
Cement Garden, there is a male protagonist whose maturation is central to the
narrative, but as in The Comfort of Strangers there is a fundamental concern
with a couple in crises. Once more, childhood is a major preoccupation, as are
gender relations. However, McEwan's third novel marks a considerable change
from his earlier fiction in certain other respects. Informed by the experience of
writing for television and film, and after a six-year gap since his last novel, The
Child in Time (1987) has a far broader social and political canvas than either
The Cement Garden or The Comfort of Strangers. For many critics this revealed
McEwan to be one of the foremost novelists of his generation though for others
it exposed the fact, as they saw it, that he was at his best writing about couples
and families in near-claustrophobic situations. The story of The Child in Time
takes place over a few years in a projected future but is initially set, during the
'last decent summer' of the 1990s, in a London of beggars licensed by the
government and schools offered for sale to private investors. The novel's main
storyline concentrates on Stephen and Julie, a husband and wife who, upon the
kidnapping of their only child, become estranged, but appear to be reconciled
with the birth of a new baby at the close of the narrative. The second-string plot
concerns the composition and publication of a government childcare manual.
These two strands of narrative are brought together not just through events in
Stephen's life but also via his concern with the idea that a generation or society
can be appraised by its attitude towards the nurturing and education of children.
Like The Comfort of Strangers, McEwan's next work can be considered as
genre fiction: as a Cold-War spy story that has at its heart the preoccupations of
many espionage novels, such as deception, duplicity, ignorance, aggression, and
the loss of innocence that accompanies the acquisition of knowledge and experience. The Innocent (1990) was McEwan's most successful book to date and,
though an easier read, is more complexly plotted than his previous fiction. The
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prose is heavily symbolic at times, and the story aims towards becoming an
allegory of how strong countries impose their wills on weaker ones, but lacks
the moral and literary sophistication of much of McEwan's best work. The story
is set in Berlin at the time of a stereotypical Cold-War enterprise called
Operation Gold, the attempt by the British and American military to tunnel into
the Soviet sector to infiltrate communication in 1955-56. As well as focusing on
the actual Berlin Tunnel built by MI6 and the CIA, McEwan also breaks the fictional frame of the narrative by introducing the figure of George Blake, the
double-agent who actually did betray Operation Gold before the tunnel was even
started. The Innocent is most obviously concerned with the way the post-war
Western world bifurcated into factions aligning themselves with the mutually
suspicious superpowers, and so concentrates on the opposed political
philosophies of the USSR and Euroamerica, but it is also a story about the end
of the British Empire and the rise of American global cultural domination. Set in
the crucial years of the mid-1950s, the time in British politics of the confusion
and humiliation of the Suez Crisis (cf. Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day), The
Innocent details the loss of Britain's international role and the assumption of its
secondary position in the new world order alongside the other transition
signalled by the division of Berlin, whose carving up is imaged in the literal
dismemberment of a body in the novel's middle section.
Black Dogs (1992) purports to be a memoir or 'divagation' by Jeremy, an
orphan fascinated by the families of others. Jeremy has spent his life striving to
regain his childhood innocence before the death of his parents when he was
eight years old. This early loss has led him to seek parental figures, those with
authority but compassion, solutions but sympathy. A preface provides the reader
with Jeremy's background, concentrating on his relationship with his sister and
his protective love for her daughter. Yet, in several ways the principal figures in
the novel are Jeremy's parents-in-law, June and Bernard Tremaine, a separated
couple who met as communist sympathizers but whose experiences and
temperaments have taken them in diametrically opposed philosophical
directions. This concern with ideological differences continues a theme from
The Innocent, with which Black Dogs shares an interest in the Berlin Wall's
construction and destruction, the pulling down of which in Black Dogs is
symbolic of the breaking down of a barrier between June and Bernard's
seemingly irreconcilable perspectives. June is a spiritual being, an intuitive
believer and a natural communicator, while Bernard is a logical rationalist and
unswerving materialist. She searches for the 'hidden truth' of the universe, and
argues that she would not take the life of another no matter what the benefit,
while he believes there is no truth that science cannot ultimately reveal to
humanity, and argues that he would countenance the death of hundreds of people if it were to save the lives of thousands. In the opening section of the novel
after the preface, June is dying from leukemia at a nursing home in 1987, where
Jeremy visits her. While he makes notes from what June tells him, and reflects
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upon his conversations with Bernard, Jeremy becomes the intermediary (as adult
and child) between these self-alienated couples with their warring beliefs. As he
learns more of their background and the circumstances of their marriage, Jeremy
increasingly becomes an image of the novelist, of the observing outsider trying
to make sense of the lives and opinions of others. The narrative of the novel
does not proceed chronologically but leads up to an incident in 1946, an
encounter June had in France with two predatory dogs, which brought her to a
belief in God. June understands the dogs to be embodiments of evil, exemplars
of a pervasive, ever-present malignant force that can arise anywhere at any time.
The events of the book, from the assault on Bernard at the Berlin Wall in 1989,
through the history of the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland, to Jeremy's
disturbing experience of the violent forces in himself, can all be considered from
this perspective. Against this, Bernard would rationally argue that all examples
of 'evil' are historically specific incidents of violence that could be eradicated by
improved social and political systems. Ultimately, Jeremy, and one suspects
McEwan, leans more towards June's understanding of the universe than
Bernard's: that the world is not entirely in human hands to control and that there
are forces at work that the conscious mind will never have in its possession. A
very dense book, involving numerous interconnected themes, Black Dogs is at
heart a meditation on the nature of moral forces. The book uses the dogs of its
title (who have supposedly been trained by the Gestapo not only to attack but to
rape) as an emblem or manifestation of a primal evil that will periodically
surface in Europe (McEwan's filmscript for The Good Son is also concerned
with modern Western society's refusal to countenance the existence of evil). The
narrative is thus concerned with the contemporary meanings of 'evil' and 'good',
the latter figured as the redemptive power of love. Taking his cue from the poet
W. H. Auden, McEwan forces on the reader the conviction that, whatever one
takes them to be symbols of, the 'black dogs' can, and indeed will, arise again in
the future, and only love can in some sense overcome the violent tragedies of
history.
McEwan's next novel appeared in 1997; and while its theme is love it is
concerned with how love can be obsessive and threatening as much as
supportive and redeeming. Enduring Love is less a reflection on love's
endurance than on an individual's endurance of unwanted, uncompromising
love. It again has a marriage in crisis at its centre: a couple whose union is
threatened by the sudden appearance of a third, deluded 'lover'. Following their
meeting in a moment of emotional intensity, a five-man attempt to hold down a
hot-air balloon in danger of flying away with only a child aboard, the social
misfit Jed Parry fixates on the novel's narrator, Joe Rose. The reader is never
quite sure until late on whether Parry is indeed stalking Joe, or, as his partner
Clarissa believes, Joe is fabricating the story. Through these doubts and
interpretations, Enduring Love develops as a novel about the different narratives,
theories, and beliefs people use to interpret events in their lives. Though the plot
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can be accused of being overly schematic, as arguably are those of several of
McEwan's books, it is in many ways a compelling and chilling study of an
individual who has to endure a love as threatening and predatory as the
incarnations of evil in Black Dogs.
Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize in 1998, appeared only a year later.
The novel is a little different from McEwan's previous work. Read as another
serious exploration of themes of responsibility and rivalry, it fails to maintain
the high standards of McEwan's previous work. However, read as a black
comedy, the novel's 'faults' (predictability, melodrama, over-coincidence) appear
to be entirely within the genre of social satire and to reveal a new strand to
McEwan's writing. The plot centres on three men gathered together at the
funeral of a woman to whom they have all been lovers. Following a series of
bizarre plot-twists and misunderstandings, two of the men, supposedly best
friends, travel to Holland to kill each other under the guise of euthanasia. The
third man, husband to the dead woman, appears at the end of the novel to rise
from being a foolish cuckold to stand as the orchestrator of the others' doom.
The book shows McEwan's continuing skill at giving macabre twists to debates
over contemporary social issues. Set in 1996, the novel attempts to explore the
morality of the well-off portion of a generation brought up with 'full
employment, new universities, bright paperback books, the Augustan age of
rock-and-roll, [and] affordable ideals' (A, 12). It suggests that a nanny state has
fostered selfish children and that the politics of sleaze and greed that
characterized nearly 20 years of Conservative government were the result.
Perhaps best seen as a witty diversion, Amsterdam reads like a potboiler, and
though below McEwan's best it can be enjoyed as his first real work in the genre
of satire: 'a novel, play, entertainment, etc., in which topical issues, folly, or evil
are held up to scorn by means of ridicule and irony' (Collins English Dictionary,
1998).
(Childs, Peter, Contemporary Novelists: British Fiction since 1970, 2001)
Review Questions and Tasks
Study the material and be ready to talk in details about major novels by Ian
McEwan: The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Child in Time,
The Innocent, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, Amsterdam.
Use the following plan:
Define the theme and the problem of the novel;
Analyze the approach of the author to express and solve the problem;
Mention any peculiar features of the novel;
Comment on the title;
Point out the significance of this novel and its contribution to British
fiction.
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Making a Close-up
Study the review of the novel Atonement and answer the questions.
Throughout his fiction, McEwan has dissected relationships between
children and adults, particularly the ideas and fears that the young have about
'being grown up'. To illustrate and explore this theme, I shall examine The
Cement Garden and Atonement. The Cement Garden details the summer months
of a family of newly bereaved and abandoned children coming to terms with life
without their parents. In many ways, the narrative explores their simultaneous
growth into adulthood and regression into childhood. McEwan's novel might
indeed have been called the semen garden; it is concerned with sex and growth,
with creation (nature) and procreation (animal). The narrator Jack is an adolescent who at the start of the novel successfully masturbates for the first time at
the same moment as his father has a heart attack and dies. The boy jacks off on
to his hand and then studies the semen drying like cement: 'As I watched, it
dried to a barely visible shiny crust which cracked when I flexed my wrist. I
decided not to wash it away' (C, 18). Little in this book is in fact washed away,
from dirt to guilt, but almost everything is covered over: the garden, a dead
body, incest.
Atonement similarly deals with a child's perception of adult behaviour. It is
initially set in 1935 at Tilney, a country house, and is divided into three parts,
with a coda set in London in 1999. The main trio of characters, in a narrative
suffused with triangles and three-way relationships are Briony Tallis, a 13-yearold with literary pretensions, her older sister Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son
of the Tallis family's cleaning lady. Robbie and Cecilia are down from
Cambridge, where Robbie has been educated at the expense of the girls' father, a
Whitehall civil servant whose rule over but absence from the young people's
world of play-acting and sexual intrigue recalls that of Sir Thomas Bertram in
Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. As with many of McEwan's previous novels, the
plot hinges on a pivotal moment in the characters' lives, which opens the novel.
The preoccupations of the novel are contained in Briony's observation of Robbie
and Cecilia's argument by the fountain over the broken Meissen vase (echoing
Henry James's novel The Golden Bowl), in that it mimics the presence of the
third-person narrator who assumes an impossible omniscience. Confidently
interpreting and fictionalizing that which she has neither experienced nor
understood, Briony serves as a cautionary figure for both author and reader.
The effect of the adult world on children throughout part one is to create a
disturbance which results in the children acting in ways which might or do lead
to disaster. This dimension of role-playing and immature understanding is
foregrounded by the lurid-yet-innocent gothic play about a romanticized adult
world that Briony asks the children to rehearse at the start of the novel.
Refracted through Robbie's thoughts, Part Two parallels the injustices and
confusion of Part One with that of the rout of the British Expeditionary Force in
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France. The symbolism of the vase becomes a little clearer here. It entered the
household via an uncle of the Tallises to whom it was given in the First World
War by the French villagers he had saved. Its breaking by Robbie in the interwar
years is now followed by his own attempt to help defend France in 1940, and he
in turn is given aid and shelter by French villagers. The vase comes to signify so
many broken things that people attempt to put back together: relationships, lives,
the past, countries. The vase is mended in 1935 so that the cracks are barely
discernible, yet, in the Second World War, it is broken again, this time
irreparably. As Briony notes of the rash certainties and accusations she has been
guilty of: 'the glazed surface of conviction was not without its blemishes and
hairline cracks'.
While Part One disclosed that Robbie had intended to become a doctor, the
novel's third part focuses on Briony's wartime experience as a nurse. It ends with
the note 'В. T. London, 1999', informing the reader that the preceding narrative
has in fact been Briony's account, has been a fiction within McEwan's fiction - it
proves to be an imaginative rendition of the atonement Briony could have
performed had Robbie and Cecilia lived. It is followed by a coda, or epilogue,
narrated directly in the first person by Briony and turns on a new generation's
performance of Briony's playlet, "The Trials of Arabella', which initiated the
book's preoccupation with imagined lives.
The novel's intrigues centre on perspective. Though Atonement's main three
parts are told in the third person, the reader is forced to rely on characters'
readings of events, and while dominant interpretations occur to the reader, there
are few anchors to determine conclusively the meanings of scenes and actions.
Through its three main sections, the book thus asks a number of questions:
without God, how and from whom can the individual find forgiveness for crimes
against the dead, particularly unwitting crimes committed as a child; how can
nations and individuals find reparation for the horror of war; and how can the
novelist, as Briony becomes, find expiation in a 'fictional' world of her own
creation? (AT, 371)
While its story of the relationship between two sisters seems to draw on
many texts, from Austen's Sense and Sensibility to George Eliot's Middlemarch,
Atonement is a novel in the country-house tradition for its first section. It is
reminiscent of the many precedents provided by the interwar period itself, from
Henry Green and Rosamond Lehmann to Elizabeth Bowen and Ivy Compton
Burnett. Perhaps most of all, however, Atonement recalls the work of Henry
James, whose What Maisie Knew, along with L. R Hartley's The Go-Between,
stands behind McEwan's story of an adult's world seen through the eyes of a
child. Briony has carried her childhood mistake all her life, and having atoned in
the only way she feels she can, looks forward to escaping the albatross of the
past - 'But now I must sleep' is her final line.
In McEwan's work, childhood is a sleep from which everyone must awaken
to face an adult world where their former actions will have unforeseen
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consequences. Childhood is also realm adults seek to control but to which they
also seek to return. McEwan additionally puts under scrutiny the potentially
insidious influence of adults on children through writing, whether it be childcare
manuals or adventure fiction.
(Childs,Peter, Contemporary Novelists: British Fiction since 1970, 2001)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
What is the subject matter of the novel?
2.
Define the place and time of action.
3.
Point out the main characters.
4.
What are the major themes touched upon in the novel?
5.
How is the theme of adulthood and childhood presented?
6.
With what means does the author express the theme in the novel? Give
examples.
7.
What is the conflict created in the novel?
8.
How many parts are there in the novel? Is there any significance in such a
division?
9.
What do the parts deal with?
10. What are the possible links of Atonement to other novels by McEwan?
11. How can you interpret the title of the novel?
12. What kind of “atonement” will be meant in the novel: religious,
philosophical, moral or social?
13. Look up the following words in the dictionary and use them in the
sentences of your own:
Bereaved, dissect, suffuse, pivotal, rehearse, refract, discernible, blemish.
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CHAPTER 1
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
reckless
evanesce
to compel
petty
to leap
to taint
dubious
affliction
merciless
to quaver
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
minor\ small
to force\ oblige
to spoil\ damage
vague\ uncertain
to jump
suffering\ grief
cruel
to vanish\ disappear
to tremble
thoughtless\ careless
9
Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Condescension, refugee, exultation, wince, savour, tether.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
DEFINITION: Words which ‘mean the same thing” are termed
synonyms – but in fact few words really do mean exactly the same thing.
Words of similar meaning can almost always be distinguished on the basis
of their reference and/or register. In terms of reference, words can be
more or less specific, for example:
Dog (non-specific) versus Alsatian (specific)
In terms of register, words can be more or less formal, for example:
Mutt-dog-canine quadruped
(Pope, Rob. Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies
for Literary Studies, 2001)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
TEMPEST – A _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ | S _ _ _ _
CONTEMPLATE – V _ _ _ _ | C _ _ _ _ _ _ R
DOOM – F _ _ _
MAYHEM – C _ _ _ _
To LAMENT – To W _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
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How far are the words:
- common and everyday, or from a specific area of use (religion, technology,
etc.)?
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
What was the plot of Briony’s play?
How can you interpret the title of the play?
Describe the main characters of the play.
What was Briony dreaming of?
Compare the personalities of two sisters.
How do the descriptions of their rooms emphasize their difference?
Comment on the first story written by Briony.
How did it characterize Briony as a person?
What was the Tallises’ reaction on their child’s writing gift?
Describe Briony’s way of writing.
What was Briony’s understanding of wedding, marriage and divorce?
Describe the Quinceys twins.
Why were the children unhappy?
Comment on the procedure of casting created by Briony?
Exploring the Themes
1. What sort of social and cultural setting does the Tallis house create for the
novel?
2. What is the atmosphere in the house?
3. What emotions and impulses are being reinforced by the surroundings of the
house?
4. How and why are the sisters different in viewing life and people?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- lightly or heavily modified nouns – pre- or post-modified; in/ definite
articles?
«She was one of those children possessed by a desire to have the world just so.
Whereas her big sister’s room was a stew of unclosed books, unfolded clothes,
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unmade bed, unemptied ashtrays, Briony’s was a shrine to her controlling
demon: the model farm spread across a deep window ledge consisted of the
usual animals, but all facing one way—toward their owner—as if about to break
into song, and even the farmyard hens were neatly corralled. In fact, Briony’s
was the only tidy upstairs room in the house. Her straight-backed dolls in their
many-roomed mansion appeared to be under strict instructions not to touch the
walls; the various thumb-sized figures to be found standing about her dressing
table—cowboys, deep-sea divers, humanoid mice—suggested by their even
ranks and spacing a citizen’s army awaiting orders”(AT, p. 4-5).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- long or short sentences – and how many words on average?
«A taste for the miniature was one aspect of an orderly spirit. Another was a
passion for secrets: in a prized varnished cabinet, a secret drawer was opened by
pushing against the grain of a cleverly turned dovetail joint, and here she kept a
diary locked by a clasp, and a notebook written in a code of her own invention. In
a toy safe opened by six secret numbers she stored letters and postcards. An old
tin petty cash box was hidden under a removable floorboard beneath her bed. In
the box were treasures that dated back four years, to her ninth birthday when she
began collecting: a mutant double acorn, fool’s gold, a rainmaking spell bought
at a funfair, a squirrel’s skull as light as a leaf» (AT, p. 5).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- familiar collocations (recognisable word-clusters) – or is much of it
strikingly new?
«But hidden drawers, lockable diaries and cryptographic systems could not
conceal from Briony the simple truth: she had no secrets. Her wish for a
harmonious, organized world denied her the reckless possibilities of
wrongdoing. Mayhem and destruction were too chaotic for her tastes, and she
did not have it in her to be cruel. Her effective status as an only child, as well as
the relative isolation of the Tallis house, kept her, at least during the long
summer holidays, from girlish intrigues with friends. Nothing in her life was
sufficiently interesting or shameful to merit hiding; no one knew about the
squirrel’s skull beneath her bed, but no one wanted to know. None of this was
particularly an affliction; or rather, it appeared so only in retrospect, once a
solution had been found» (AT, p. 5-6).
Analyzing the Author’s style
The novel Atonement is preceded by an epigraph. Study the material and
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complete the tasks.
•
Thus, epigraph (Gk. Epi, “upon” + grapho, “I write”) is known as an
apposite quotation at the beginning of a book, chapter, etc. containing an idea
which is then developed in the narration. The relationship between the epigraph
and the text it foreruns is that of equivalence: in the reader’s perception an
oscillation should arise between the gradually grasped meaning of the text and
the meaning of the epigraph, the establishment of their mutual correspondence
and differences which should facilitate a deeper penetration into the author’s
message. Quotations from a great variety of sources can be used as epigraphs:
from the Bible, folklore (proverbs, sayings, popular ballads, etc.), songs, literary
texts, both poetic and prosaic, in different languages.
•
I.V. Arnold remarks that the inattention to the epigraph from Dante in
Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrok has barred the numerous
commentators of Eliot’s poem from the correct interpretation of its central
image. Yet there is a close parallel between Dante’s words that express his
doubts as to whether he should follow Virgil to Hell and Prufrok’s hesitations.
“The epigraph is very important here for the understanding of Eliot’s key theme
of fear and for disclosing the social background of the wretched intellectual
Prufrok” (Arnold, I.V. Stylistics, 2004). I.V. Arnold’s remark concerns a poem,
but it is equally valid for prose writings.
•
Edward Mendelson mentions that the epigraph to McEwan’s Amsterdam
is the first line and a half of W.H.Auden’s poem, The Crossroads, which, like
so many of Auden’s poems, ‘refuses to yield up any cohesive meanings’
The friends who met here and embraced are gone,
Each to his own mistake;
9 It is presumed in Robert E.Kohn’s article ‘The Fivesquare Amsterdam of
Ian McEwan’ that McEwan intended the plot of Amsterdam to be the narrative
for this enigmatic poet. Although Auden revised many of his poems, Mendelson
chose to reprint ‘the early versions…for their greater immediate impact’, and
except for one small alteration based on a later revision, the version of The
Crossroads that Mendelson selected is as follows:
The friends who met here and embraced are gone,
Each to his own mistake; one flashes on
To fame and ruin in a rowdy lie,
A village torpor holds the other one,
Some local wrong where it takes time to die:
The empty junction glitters in the sun.
So at all quays and crossroads: who can tell,
O places of decision and farewell,
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To what dishonour all adventure leads,
What parting gift could give that friend protection,
So oriented, his salvation needs
The Bad Lands and the sinister direction?
All landscapes and all weathers freeze with fear,
But none have ever thought, the legends say,
The time allowed made it impossible;
For even the most pessimistic set
The limit of their errors at a year.
What friends could there be left then to betray,
What joys take longer to atone for? Yet
Who would complete without the extra day
The journey that should take no time at all?
(Auden, W.H., Selected Poems, 1979)
‘The friends’ in Auden’s poem become, in the novel, Vernon Halliday, a
newspaper editor, and Clive Linley, a famous composer.
In McEwan’s version of The Crossroads, Vernon and Clive meet at the
glittering funeral of their former lover, Molly Lane, in a junction of crossroads
with other of her distinguished paramours from past and recent years. The
circumstances of Molly’s death allow Vernon, editor of a declining newspaper,
to publish incriminating photographs of an ambitious, but ideologically dubious
politician in transvestite dress, that, like the poem says, brings Vernon
temporary fame but ultimate dishonour. While his newspaper venture is
evolving, Vernon’s composer friend Clive, anxious to complete his monumental
Millennial Symphony, is hiking in the lake District for inspiration when he sees
at a distance a lone woman hiker being accosted by a man, later identified as the
Lake-land rapist, who had been eluding capture. Whether for fear of his own
safety, or to avoid losing a serendipitous inspiration for the symphonic finale
just beginning to take shape in his head, Clive selfishly secludes himself while
he writes down the musical notes that he expects will save his career. Each
friend understands the ‘sinister direction’ the other has taken for the ‘salvation’
of his career, warns him of the dangers, but these ‘parting gifts’ are ignored. “To
what dishonour all adventure leads’ depends, according to the novel, upon what
personal dangers are being avoided or what lofty ambitions are being pursued.
In many ways, Amsterdam fills in the narrative that is missing in the poem by
Auden that McEwan uses for an epigraph.
(Kohn, Robert E., Critical Survey, 2004)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
What do you understand by epigraph? What is its importance?
2.
The epigraphs in the first trilogy of Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga are
taken from Shakespeare. In The Man of property it is a quotation from Merchant
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of Venice: “…You will answer: ’the slaves are ours…” What have these lines in
common with Galsworthy’s message in the novel?
Read the extracts from the critical reviews, compare and analyze them.
[…] Atonement does not feel, at first, like a book by McEwan. The opening is
almost perversely ungripping. Instead of the expected sharpness of focus, the
first 70 or so pages are a lengthy summary of shifting impressions. One longs
for a cinematic clarity and concentration of dialogue and action, but such
interludes dissolve before our - and the participants' - eyes.
Unlike Martin Amis, say, or Salman Rushdie, McEwan is an invisible rather
than a flamboyant stylist. Even so, the pallid qualifiers and disposable adverbs (a
"gently rocking" sheet of water, the "coyly drooping" head of a nettle) come as a
surprise. The language used to distil the scene - a gathering of the Tallis family
at their country house on a sweltering day in 1935 - serves also as a wash that
partially obscures it. […]
(Dyer, Geoff, ‘Who’s afraid of violence?’ 2001)
[…] The opening of Atonement, on the other hand, overtly summons a number
of literary references, and thereby insists rather volubly on its fictionality. It
recalls Northanger Abbey in its epigraph and Mansfield Park in its theatrics, as
Briony prepares The Trials of Arabella for the stage. In the depiction of Briony
herself—"she kept a diary locked by a clasp and a notebook written in a code of
her own invention"—we see many heroines of girls' fiction from Enid Blyton
novels to Harriet the Spy. In the solid, prosperous (but modern, and hence fake)
Tallis house, set in its parkland, and in the gathering of guests in that house, we
find echoes of the interwar house-party genre (Evelyn Waugh, say, or Anthony
Powell; or that masterpiece of cinema, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game).
Then, too, there are the characters' names: Leon, Briony, and Cecilia are
overdone enough; but what of the Quincey cousins, Lola, Jackson, and Pierrot?
We are characters, these names announce. And this is a story. […]
(Messud , Claire, ‘The Beauty of the Conjuring’, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. How do the critics describe the style of the opening chapter?
2. What features do they point out?
The reviews involve many different literary allusions which represent one of
the major features of postmodernist literature – intertextuality. Study the
information on intertextuality and complete the tasks.
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Intertextuality
Now common in literary theory and text linguistics, intertextuality was
introduced first into French criticism in the late 1960s by Kristeva in her
discussion and elaboration of the ideas of Bakhtin, especially his general
dialogical principle. The equivalent term transtextuality has sometimes been
found.
Basically, it can be defined as utterances/texts in relation to other
utterances/texts. So even within a single text there can be, as it were, a continual
‘dialogue’ between the text given and other texts/utterances that exist outside it,
literary and non-literary: either within that same period of composition, or in
previous centuries. Kristeva argues, in fact, that no text is ‘free’ of other texts or
truly original.
Genre is thus an intertextual concept: a poem written in the genre of a sonnet
conforms to conventions that belong to a particular tradition inherited by the
poet and which are also perhaps being exploited by the poet’s contemporaries.
When Shakespeare writes: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet
130), the I-persona is reacting against the conventional sonnet conceits in a kind
of interactive dialogue, conceits which his contemporaries also must have
known about. For the reader, therefore, intertextuality functions as an important
frame or reference which helps in the interpretation of a text.
In this example, the text is a transformation of another, a common way that
intertextuality works. Borrowing is a more obvious process, whether in the form
of a phrase in poetic diction (e.g. funny tribe); a quotation or allusion (as in
Wilde’s A little sincerity is a dangerous thing…, or titles like Huxley’s Brave
New World); larger-scale insertions (as in Eliot’s The Wasteland); or structural
models (myths and legends for science fiction); or all these modes (as in Joyce’s
Finnegans Wake and other modernist fiction). Imitation and parody depend on
both borrowing and transformation of previous forms: what Genette termed
paratextuality. Intertextuality is also a feature of non-literary discourse (e.g.
advertising); and of non-verbal forms: film and music, for instance (Wales,
Katie, A Dictionary of Stylistics, 2001).
(Allen, Graham, Intertextuality, 2000)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is intertextuality in Graham Allen’s view?
2. To what extent is intertextuality significant to postmodern literature?
3. What are the main literary references introduced by postmodern literary
tradition?
4. In what way do the mentioned authors contribute to the idea of
intertextuality?
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CHAPTER 2
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
feeble
to conceal
to condemn
to reprove
wan
perverse
errand
junk
to hide
task
to blame
weak
pale| fading
rubbish| trash
to reproach
spoiled | wicked
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Fad (passing fad), torpor, sibling, mock, pretence.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
OBSESSION – F _ _ _ _ _ _ N
CALAMITY – D _ _ _ _ _ _ R
AWKWARD – C _ _ _ _ _
To BANISH – Е _ _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- context-sensitive or relatively context-free?
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1.
Comment on Cecilia’s way of living.
2.
How do all the mentioned details of Cecilia’s lifestyle characterize her as
a person?
3.
Describe Robbie’s character.
4.
What were the relations between Cecilia and Robbie like?
5.
How was Robbie treated in Tallis family?
6.
Comment on “the question of money” (page 27).
7.
Describe and comment the scene by the fountain (page 29-30).
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Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What kinds of “music’ or visual patterns do the words
make, and with what effects?
What do you hear, see, or infer with respect to:
- repetition or near-repetition of sounds or sights?
- alliteration and assonance?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- material and dynamic (concerned with “doing” and “happening”) or
rational and “state-like” ( concerned with “being” and “having”)?
- externally communicated ( concerned with “saying”, “writing” “reading”,
“showing”. etc.) or internally perceived ( concerned with “thinking” “
feeling”, “sensing” etc.)?
«Cecilia and Robbie froze in the attitude of their struggle. Their eyes met, and
what she saw in the bilious melange of green and orange was not shock, or
guilt, but a form of challenge, or even triumph. She had the presence of mind to
set the ruined vase back down on the step before letting herself confront the
significance of the accident. It was irresistible, she knew, even delicious, for the
graver it was, and the worse it would be for Robbie. Her dead uncle, her
father’s dear brother, the wasteful war, the treacherous crossing of the river, the
preciousness beyond money, the heroism and goodness, all the years backed up
behind the history of the vase reaching back to the genius of Horoldt, and
beyond him to the mastery of the arcanists who had reinvented porcelain»(AT,
p.29).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- long or short sentences – and how many words on average?
«Cecilia knew she could not go on wasting her days in the stews of her untidied
room, lying on her bed in a haze of smoke, chin propped on her hand, pins and
needles spreading up through her arm as she read her way through
Richardson’s Clarissa. She had made a halfhearted start on a family tree, but on
the paternal side, at least until her greatgrandfather opened his humble
hardware shop, the ancestors were irretrievably sunk in a bog of farm laboring,
with suspicious and confusing changes of surnames among the men, and
common-law marriages unrecorded in the parish registers. She could not
remain here, she knew she should make plans, but she did nothing. There were
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various possibilities, all equally unpressing. She had a little money in her
account, enough to keep her modestly for a year or so. Leon repeatedly invited
her to spend time with him in London. University friends were offering to help
her find a job—a dull one certainly, but she would have her independence. She
had interesting uncles and aunts on her mother’s side who were always happy to
see her, including wild Hermione, mother of Lola and the boys, who even now
was over in Paris with a lover who worked in the wireless» (AT, p. 21.)
Analyzing the Author’s Style
In this chapter one of the characters mentions Samuel Richardson and his
novel Clarissa, contributing to the idea of intertextuality. Read the extract
below; find some additional information about the author and the novel and
answer the questions.
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was one of the most prominent and popular
eighteenth century novelists. Pamela, his first novel, began as a series of letters
on the problems of daily routine. Published in 1740 it became successful at
once. Clarissa or the History of a Young Lady, his second novel (1747-8) was
written as a series of letters as well. Epistolary novels were rather popular at
those times.
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
What are the main significant features of Richardson’s Clarissa?
2.
Richardson’s Clarissa was mentioned in connection with Cecilia’s
character. What traits and features of Cecilia’s personality are emphasized by
the author when Cecilia says that the novel is “boring”?
Chapter 2 contains a vast and vivid description; study the text and complete
the tasks.
Every prosaic literary work is a narration, and it is a narration in the most
literal way – it has to have a narrator: “reading a novel is really being told a
story. …the novel is a tale told by a teller”
(Berleant, Arnold, The Verbal Presence: An Aesthetics of Literary
Performance, 1973).
Everything that is not intended to disclose characters in their direct speech
belongs to the discourse of the narrator, an imaginated person who gives an
account of people, events, etc., and behind whom stands the real personality of
the author. The narrator always expresses, explicitly or implicitly, the author’s
point of view, his attitude to the events described. With the help of various
linguistic means the narrator moulds imperceptibly the reader’s attitude to what
happens in the story.
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The narrator’s discourse appears to be heterogeneous and falls out into at
least three constituent subgroups: actualization, narrative, description.
Actualization denotes the bringing of the narration into correlation with
reality, in the first place, with time and space.
Narrative is said to mean the subsystem of the narrator’s discourse
pertaining to the plot of narration, an orderly account of events in a story.
Narrative fills in the background of time and place: it is within this framework
that the interplay of human forces takes place. In the narrative special emphasis
is laid on predicates, the statements come in consecutive order, one arising from
the other thus forming the chain of the plot. The correlation of tenses and
time/place references comes to the fore.
In the theory of literature a distinction is drawn between the scenic
narrative and the panoramic narrative; the scenic method presents to the reader
a particular occasion, at single and particular moment, in the lives of characters;
the panoramic, on the other hand, gives a sweeping view of an extended period
of time. It is important to stress that scenic–panoramic distinction is relative, not
absolute, because any action or sequence portrayed could be described more
minutely.
Unlike narrative, description reflects the coexistence of objects and their
properties at one time. It traditionally denotes the representation of objects,
beings, situations, or (nonpurposeful, nonvolitional) happenings in their spatial
rather than temporal existence, their topological rather than chronological
functioning, their simultaneity rather than succession. It is traditionally
distinguished from narration and from commentary.
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
Why is the narrator’s discourse considered to be the kernel of the
narration level?
2.
Name and define the subsystems of the narrator’s discourse.
3.
Do you agree that no story is possible without actualization?
4.
What is the difference between the scenic and panoramic narratives?
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CHAPTER 3
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
solitude
to confide
disgrace
torment
to dazzle
contradiction
to coax
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
torture
loneliness
shame
to trust
opposition
to blind | to amaze
to induce
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Prone, to retrieve, at odds.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
TEMPTATION – Е _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ T
REVENGE – V _ _ _ _ _ _ _ E
To DEPRIVE- To В _ _ _ _ _ Е
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- literal or figurative; referential or metaphorical?
Understanding the Plot
1.
Describe the rehearsal of the play “Trials of Arabella”.
2.
How did the children treat that rehearsal?
3.
What did the rehearsal mean to Briony?
4.
How does the described devotion characterize Briony as a writer?
5.
Comment on the scene describing Briony alone in the room. (page 35)
6.
Describe and comment the scene by the fountain, observed by Briony.
7.
What was Briony feeling at that moment?
8.
Describe the features of Briony’s stories and novels she was going to
write.
9.
How did Briony see her future life?
10.
Why does the scene Briony witnessed at the fountain change her whole
perception of life?
11. By what features do we understand that Briony was shown as a child?
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12.
What is the significance of the vase? Is it somehow symbolic?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Revising types of textual intervention – Preludes, Interludes and
Postludes.
- extend the text of the extract “before”, ‘during’ and ‘after’ the events it
represents so as to explore the alternative points of departure, process of
development, or points of arrival.
«Six decades later she would describe how at the age of thirteen she had written
her way through a whole history of literature, beginning with stories derived
from the European tradition of folktales, through drama with simple moral
intent, to arrive at an impartial psychological realism which she had discovered
for herself, one special morning during a heat wave in 1935. She would be well
aware of the extent of her self-mythologizing, and she gave her account a selfmocking, or mock-heroic tone. Her fiction was known for its amorality, and like
all authors pressed by a repeated question, she felt obliged to produce a story
line, a plot of her development that contained the moment when she became
recognizably herself. She knew that it was not correct to refer to her dramas in
the plural, that her mockery distanced her from the earnest, reflective child, and
that it was not the long-ago morning she was recalling so much as her
subsequent accounts of it. It was possible that the contemplation of a crooked
finger, the unbearable idea of other minds and the superiority of stories over
plays were thoughts she had had on other days. She also knew that whatever
actually happened drew its significance from her published work and would not
have been remembered without it» (AT, p.41).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
The chapter opens with a rehearsal of Briony’s play; study the following
extracts from the critical reviews and answer the questions.
[…] One of the ways in which McEwan does endow this fictive world with a
reality is by genuinely interesting himself in the ambitions and the follies of a
little girl. Briony Tallis, a prim, yearning, intelligent child with a rage for order
and a tendency to judge before comprehending, is one of the novel's
achievements. McEwan is funny about Briony's pretentious habit of stealing
complicated words from the dictionary, so that her verse melodrama, The Trials
of Arabella, opens thus:
This is the tale of spontaneous Arabella
Who ran off with an extrinsic fellow.
It grieved her parents to see their first born
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Evanesce from her home to go to Eastbourne
Without permission . . .
We follow Briony's furies and daydreams, as her plans for the staging of her
play are slowly thwarted (as in Mansfield Park (with its staged play in a country
house, and its reflection on the dangerous excesses of the theater, is an obvious
progenitor), the play is never successfully performed. McEwan is especially
acute in his conjuring of the aimlessness and solitude of childhood. […]
(Wood, James, ’The Trick of Truth’, 2002)
[…] Briony’s play, The Тrials оf Arabella, written for the house party, but for
various reasons not then performed. Was the fantаsу of а very young writer
enchanted by the idea that she could In а few pages create а world complete
with terrors and climaxes, and necessary sort of knоwingness. The entire novel
is а grown-up version of this achievement, а conflict or coalescence of truth and
fantasy, а novelist's treatment of what is fantasized аs fact, Briony is the
novelist, living, аs her mother is said to have perceived (оr the author, оr Briony,
says she has perceived), in ‘аn intact inner world of which the writing was no
more than the visible surface.' We merely have to trust somebody to bе telling
something like the truth. […]
(Kermode, Frank, ‘Point of View’, 2001)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
In what way is the rehearsal of the play significant in developing the
image of Briony?
2.
James Wood in his review refers to Mansfield Park novel by Jane Austin;
Think of the grounds for comparison.
3.
The title of the play ‘the Trials of Arabella’ contains a metaphor,
comment on its implementation.
4.
Check up the words in the box below in the dictionary and use them in the
sentences of your own:
Folly, prim, thwart, progenitors, acute, conjure, solitude, intact.
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CHAPTER 4
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
to mitigate
to prop
to tug
to flicker
to elongate
to devise
to murmur
to lessen | to appease
to shimmer
to conceive
to pull
to prolong
to whisper
to support
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Warmonger, to loom, to loll, counterpane, exasperation.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
To EMBRACE – To H _ _
To HOBBLE – To L _ _ _
To REVOLT- To R _ _ _
SULLEN – G _ _ _ _ Y |D _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- heavily adjectival and adverbial, or relatively unmodified nouns and verbs?
Understanding the Plot
1.
Describe and comment on Briony’s talk with Cecilia.
2.
How did the author represent the image of sisterhood?
3.
In what way did Cecilia show her care about Briony?
4.
Did Briony need that care and attention of the elder sister?
5.
Comment on Paul Marshal’s character.
6.
What positive and negative features of Paul Marshal’s personality can you
mention?
7.
What were Cecilia’s feelings towards Paul? (page 50)
8.
What was the impression Paul made on Cecilia?
9.
Why was Cecilia thinking about Robbie?
10. Comment on the conversation between Cecilia and Leon talking about
inviting Robbie to dinner.
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11. How can we characterize relations between Cecilia and Leon from the
point of view of a brother and a sister?
Exploring the Themes
1.
Why is the episode with Briony’s nightmare said to be significant to the
relations between sisters?
2.
What was Cecilia’s attitude to money and wealth?
3.
What were Cecilia’s social priorities?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
- repetitions of words, or parallelisms of phrase and sentence structure?
«The silence that followed was partly mitigated by the drone of the filtration
pump. There was nothing she could do, nothing she could make Leon do, and
she suddenly felt the pointlessness of argument. She lolled against the warm
stone, lazily finishing her cigarette and contemplating the scene before her—the
foreshortened slab of chlorinated water, the black inner tube of a tractor tire
propped against a deck chair, the two men in cream linen suits of infinitesimally
different hues, bluish-gray smoke rising against the bamboo green. It looked
carved, fixed, and again, she felt it: it had happened a long time ago, and all
outcomes, on all scales—from the tiniest to the most colossal—were already in
place. Whatever happened in the future, however superficially strange or
shocking, would also have an unsurprising, familiar quality, inviting her to say,
but only to herself, Oh yes, of course. That. I should have known» (AT, p.53).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
In this chapter the author goes on with the theme of social classes; study the
conversation between Cecilia, Leon and Paul.
1. How does Ian McEwan manage to implement the theme of social classes?
2. Prove with the text the existence of social discrepancy between Cecilia and
Robbie.
3. Comment on Cecilia’s contemplations in connection with Paul Marshall.
4. What features do Cecilia’s thoughts about Paul Marshall add to her
personality?
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CHAPTER 5
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
frown
obscenity
distraught
threshold
solemn
poised
aloof
a. indecency
b. indifferent | detached
c. upset | confused
d. ceremonial | sacred
e. entering gate | beginning
f. expression indicating disapproval
and displeasure
g. self-possessed
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To tickle, to mumble, dismissive, incisor, choker.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
To SHIMMER – To T_ _ _ _ _ E
To WINCE – To S _ _ _ _ _ R | F _ _ _ _ H
BLEMISH – D _ _ _ _ _
To BRATTLE – To C _ _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- short or long; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
- literal or figurative; referential or metaphorical?
Understanding the Plot
1. Comment on the rehearsal of the play (p.55-56)
2. Why did Briony abandon the rehearsal?
3. Describe the behaviour of the children.
4. Comment on the Quinceys’ feelings, their interaction.
5. What was wrong with the word “ divorce” in Jackson and Pierrot’s dialogue? (p. 57)
6. Was Lola’s comment on the word “divorce” significant?
7. How did such a comment characterize Lola?
8. Comment on the appearance of Paul Marshall in the nursery.
9. How did the children react on Paul Marshall’s entering the room?
10. How did Paul behave with the children?
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11. What was Lola’s reaction?
12. What was special about Lola in Marshall’s opinion?
13. How can we characterize the behavior of Lola and Paul when they were
having a conversation in the nursery?
14. Comment on the “chocolate” episode.
15. In what way was this episode important? Was it some kind of a sign?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- lightly or heavily modified nouns – pre- or post-modified; in/ definite articles?
- coordinated structures?
DEFINITION:
Coordination is a process of linkage which does not differentiate
between the two elements linked, for example:
I bought apples and oranges.
I bought oranges and apples.
Coordination is often signaled by the presence of and, but this is not
necessary:
I bought bananas, apples, oranges.
I bought apples, oranges, bananas.
Where a linking word is present, the coordination is syndetic; when it
is absent, it is asyndetic.
Coordination can link either noun phrases,
a swirl with (posters) and (guides) and (officials)
or whole clauses:
(I came in over the place) and (we were stacked up for nearly
twenty minutes in a holding circuit over London)
9
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the participants:
- passive subjects or active agents?
- depersonalised or personalised?
(Pope, Rob, Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies
for Literary Studies, 2001)
«Jackson and Pierrot nodded in solemn agreement. Job done, Marshall turned
his attention back to Lola. After two strong gin cocktails in the drawing room
with Leon and his sister, Marshall had come upstairs to find his room, unpack
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and change for dinner. Without removing his shoes, he had stretched out on the
enormous four-poster and, soothed by the country silence, the drinks and the
early evening warmth, dropped away into a light sleep in which his young
sisters had appeared, all four of them, standing around his bedside, prattling
and touching and pulling at his clothes. He woke, hot across his chest and
throat, uncomfortably aroused, and briefly confused about his surroundings. It
was while he was sitting on the edge of his bed, drinking water, that he heard
the voices that must have prompted his dream. When he went along the creaky
corridor and entered the nursery, he had seen three children. Now he saw that
the girl was almost a young woman, poised and imperious, quite the little PreRaphaelite princess with her bangles and tresses, her painted nails and velvet
choker» (AT, p.60).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
- lightly or heavily modalised verbs – with auxiliary verbs and/or adverbs?
«She took it solemnly, and then for the twins, gave a serves-you-right look. They
knew this was so. They could hardly plead for Amo now. They watched her
tongue turn green as it curled around the edges of the candy casing. Paul
Marshall sat back in the armchair, watching her closely over the steeple he
made with his hands in front of his face. He crossed and uncrossed his legs.
Then he took a deep breath. “Bite it,” he said softly. “You’ve got to bite it.” It
cracked loudly as it yielded to her unblemished incisors, and there was revealed
the white edge of the sugar shell, and the dark chocolate beneath it. It was then
that they heard a woman calling up the stairs from the floor below, and then she
called again, more insistently, from just along the corridor, and this time the
twins recognized the voice and a look of sudden bewilderment passed between
them” (AT, p.62).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
The major part of the chapter represents a dialogue. Study the information
about a dialogue as a literary form and complete the tasks.
Dialogue
(1) In ordinary usage we are likely to think of (a) dialogue as a kind of
conversational interaction or discourse, earnest rather than chatty, involving an
exchange of views. (So Foreign Ministers, for instance, are often said to be
engaged in a ‘dialogue’ with each other.) We are also likely to think of there
being just two participants; perhaps under the (mistaken) impression that the
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first syllable of the word derives from the Greek prefix meaning ‘two’. But the
word is actually derived from the Greek word ‘to converse’. While two
participants, addresser and addressee, would seem to be the Canonical situation,
any number of people can take part (e.g. at parties, board meetings, etc.) The
term duologue, however, has sometimes been employed when only two
participants are involved.
A dialogue is to be distinguished from a monologue: utterances by a single
speaker with no expectation of a response from another speaker.
Although dialogues are normally spoken, it is perhaps plausible to think of the
exchange of letters, for instance, as being a kind of dialogue, or filling in official
forms and questionnaires.
(2) In literature, dialogue describes the reproduction of apparently serious
conversations, a genre that goes back to Plato’s Dialogues (fourth century BC),
with their questions and answers. Dryden’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy is an
English example.
(3) More commonly, dialogue describes all the speech found in narratives in
the delineation of character; and the interchanges that dominate drama.
In the novel, representation of speech is frequently direct, mimetic of real
dialogue; but other modes of representation are used, with differing degrees of
directness. But even direct speech, given the nature of the medium, presents an
‘edited’ or stylized version of what actual dialogue in real life would be like;
and, in any case, is subordinated, like dramatic dialogue, to the structure and
theme of work as a whole. Moreover, unlike real-life dialogue, it is designed to
be ‘overheard’ by reader or audience.
(4) Dialogue and its formatives such as dialogic, dialogization, etc., are used
in the widest possible sense by the Russian linguist and philosopher Mikhail
Bakhtin and his circle (1920s onwards). What has come to be known as the
dialogical principle informs much of Bakhtin’s philosophy of language. Every
utterance, every sentence (and hence even monologue) is oriented dynamically,
towards an anticipated implied response, is in ‘dialogue’ with utterances that
have already been made, and also in interaction with the social situation around
it. In the novel, a special kind of dialogization is its main characteristic: the
interrelation of social styles and voices (characters and narrator, for instance)
(Wales, Katie, A Dictionary of Stylistics, 2001).
1.
2.
3.
4.
Review Questions and Tasks
How can we define a dialogue?
What is the role of a dialogue performed in literature?
What function does a dialogue fulfill?
What is the difference between a fictional dialogue and a real-life one?
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CHAPTER 6
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
to gyp
sooth
to sulk
to fret
to tumble
to revel
eloquence
a.
to worry
b.
to cheat
c.
to fall |to throw
d.
truth
e.
to be in a bad mood| upset
f.
fluent or persuasive speaking or
writing
g.
to feast | to party
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Pinprick, drone, supine, slum, varsity, doze.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
MALICE – S _ _ _ _
To SUFFOCATE– To S _ _ _ _ _ R
TRANQUIL – C _ _ _
To GAUGE– To M _ _ _ _ _ E | To E _ _ _ _ _ _ E
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- short or long; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1. Describe and comment on the thoughts and feelings of Emily Tallis?
2. Was Emily a good mother?
3. In what way did Emily express her love and care towards her children?
4. What kind of person was Emily Tallis?
5. What was Emily thinking about her children?
6. What problems worried her?
7. Comment on Emily’s idea of Cecilia’s education?
8. What were Emily’s thoughts about Briony?
9. Comment on the episode describing the bath time.
10. Why was this episode important to Emily?
11. What plan did Emily arrange in her mind before going downstairs?
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12. Was Emily Tallis a moral authority in the family?
13. How was Emily treated by the children?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- long or short sentences – and how many words on average?
- repetitions of words, or parallelisms of phrase and sentence structure?
- predominantly common nouns, proper nouns or personal pronouns?
“Habitual fretting about her children, her husband, her sister, the help, had
rubbed her senses raw; migraine, mother love and, over the years, many hours
of lying still on her bed, had distilled from this sensitivity a sixth sense, a
tentacular awareness that reached out from the dimness and moved through the
house, unseen and all-knowing. Only the truth came back to her, for what she
knew, she knew. The indistinct murmur of voices heard through a carpeted floor
surpassed in clarity a typed-up transcript; a conversation that penetrated a wall
or, better, two walls, came stripped of all but its essential twists and nuances.
What to others would have been a muffling was to her alert senses, which were
fine-tuned like the cat’s whiskers of an old wireless, an almost unbearable
amplification. She lay in the dark and knew everything. The less she was able to
do, the more she was aware. But though she sometimes longed to rise up and
intervene, especially if she thought Briony was in need of her, the fear of pain
kept her in place”(AT, p.66).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
This chapter provides a deep insight into the theme of social classes and
roles which were touched upon in the previous chapters. Read the summary
below and identify the examples expressing and proving the following
problem in the text of the chapter (pay special attention to the character of
Emily Tallis).
In chapter six we get a kind of biographical insight into Emily Tallis’s life. It
gives us a chance to see and realize the crucial changes of the woman’s role in
the society. Being educated at home and having completely different image of a
woman and her role in the society she feels rather confused and lost. The idea of
upcoming social changes and the impossibility to adjust to them make her
anxious. At the same time she feels that she is on the verge of losing the grip of
the whole household and realizes that she won’t manage to prevent the collapse.
The experience of the loss of maternal power adds a shade of desperation to her
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image. Emily clearly knows that Briony needs her comfort and support; that she
should have more concern in Cecilia and Leon’s future plans and perspectives;
and of course, needless to say, that her relations with the husband demand a
deep reconsideration. But she can’t; she is stuck in bed with all these ideas and
reproaches humming in her head.
The whole novel is full of symbols. Study the information about this literary
term and complete the tasks.
Symbol, in the simplest sense, anything that stands for or represents
something else beyond it – usually an idea conventionally associated with it.
Objects like flags or crosses can function symbolically; and words are also
symbols. In the semiotics of C.S. Peirce, the term denotes a kind of sign that has
no natural or resembling connection with its referent, only a conventional one:
this is the case with words. In literary usage, however, a symbol is a specially
evocative kind of image; that is, a word or phrase referring to a concrete object,
scene, or action which also has some further significance associated with it:
roses, mountains, birds, and voyages have all been used as common literary
symbols.
A symbol differs from a metaphor in that its application is left open as an
unstated suggestion thus in the sentence She was a tower of strength, the
metaphor ties a concrete image (the ‘vehicle’: tower) to an identifiable abstract
quality (the tenor: strength). Similarly, in the systematically extended
metaphoric parallels of allegory, the images represent specific meanings: at the
beginning of Landland’s allegorical poem Piers Plowman, the tower seen by the
dreamer is clearly identified with the quality of Truth, and it has no independent
status apart from this function. But the symbolic tower in Robert Browning’s
poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” (1855), or that in W.B.Yeat’s
collection of poems The Tower (1928), remains mysteriously indeterminate in
its possible meanings. It is therefore usually too simple to say that a literary
symbol ‘stands for’ some idea as if it were just a conventional substitute for a
fixed meaning; it is usually a substantial image in its own right, around which
further significances may gather according to differing interpretations.
The term symbolism refers to the use of symbols; however, it is also the
name given to an important movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century
poetry. One of the important features of Romanticism and succeeding phases of
Western literature was a much more pronounced reliance upon enigmatic
symbolism in both poetry and prose fiction, sometimes involving obscure
private codes of meaning, as in the poetry of Blake or Yeats. A well-known
early example of this is the albatross in Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner” (1798). Many novelists – notably Herman Melville and D.H.Lawrence
– have used symbolic methods: in Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) the White
Whale (and indeed almost every object and character in the book) becomes a
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focus for many different suggested meanings. Melville’s extravagant symbolism
was encouraged partly by the importance which American Transcendentalism
gave to symbolic interpretation of the world.
(The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 2001).
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
What is a symbol?
Is there any difference between a symbol and a metaphor?
What characteristic features of symbolism movement do you know?
What do these symbols mean?
What can we associate these symbols with?
How do these symbols enrich the novel?
Study the information on intertextuality- one of the most prominent
features in Ian McEwan’s works and answer the questions.
[…]Since postmodernism represents a decentered concept of the universe in
which individual works are not isolated creations, much of the focus in the study
of postmodern literature is on intertextuality: the relationship between one text
(a novel, for example) and another or one text within the interwoven fabric of
literary history. Critics point to this as an indication of postmodernism’s lack of
originality and reliance on clichés. Intertextuality in postmodern literature can
be a reference or parallel to another literary work, an extended discussion of a
work, or the adoption of a style. In postmodern literature this commonly
manifests as references to fairy tales – as in works by Margaret Atwood, Donald
Barthelme, and many others – or in references to popular genres such as sci-fi
and detective fiction. An early 20th century example of intertextuality which
influenced later postmodernists is “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” by
Jorge Luis Borges, a story with significant references to Don Quixote which is
also a good example of intertextuality with its references to Medieval romances.
Don Quixote is a common reference with postmodernists, for example Kathy
Acker‘s novel Don Quixote: Which Was a Dream. Another example of
intertextuality in postmodernism is John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor which
deals with Ebenezer Cooke’s poem of the same name. Often intertextuality is
more complicated than a single reference to another text. Robert Coover’s
Pinocchio in Venice, for example, links Pinocchio to Thomas Mann’s Death in
Venice. Also, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose takes on the form of a
detective novel and makes references to authors such as Aristotle, Arthur Conan
Doyle, and Borges.
(Allen, Graham, Intertextuality, 2000)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What kind of concept is postmodernism considered to represent?
2. What references and parallels are typical for postmodern literature?
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CHAPTER 7
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
to dispel
to whimper
content
hazel
a.
b.
c.
d.
to cry |whine,
brown | nut,
agreed | satisfied,
to drive away | to disperse
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Temple, nettle, to slash, to preen.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
SHEER– A _ _ _ _ _ _ E | P _ _ _
GRIM - C _ _ _ _
COYLY – S _ _ _ _
SHALLOW – F _ _ _ | S _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ L
PERVERSE – W _ _ _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
Understanding the Plot
1. Comment on the description of the temple. (p.72-73)
2. Describe and comment on Briony’s dreamings and fantasies.
3. Describe Briony’s “playing with nettle”.
4. Why was this “playing with nettle” so important to her?
5. How did this episode characterize her, as a grown-up or as a child?
6. Whom did she imagine while paling the nettle? Why?
7. Comment on Briony’s ideas and speculations about childhood.
8. Why was daydreaming of such importance to Briony?
9. What did Cecilia tell Briony when she had bad dreams?
10. How did this episode emphasize their relations?
11. Were the relations with Cecilia important to Briony?
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Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
- lightly or heavily modified nouns – pre- or post-modified; in/ definite
articles?
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- material and dynamic ( concerned with “doing” and “happening”) or
rational and “state-like” ( concerned with “being” and “having”)?
- externally communicated ( concerned with “saying”, “writing” “reading”,
“showing”. etc.) or internally perceived ( concerned with “thinking” “
feeling”, “sensing” etc.)?
“No longer a playwright and feeling all the more refreshed for that, and
watching out for broken glass, she moved further round the temple, working
along the fringe where the nibbled grass met the disorderly undergrowth that
spilled out from among the trees. Flaying the nettles was becoming a selfpurification, and it was childhood she set about now, having no further need for
it. One spindly specimen stood in for everything she had been up until this
moment. But that was not enough. Planting her feet firmly in the grass, she
disposed of her old self year by year in thirteen strokes. She severed the sickly
dependency of infancy and early childhood, and the schoolgirl eager to show off
and be praised, and the eleven-year-old’s silly pride in her first stories and her
reliance on her mother’s good opinion. They flew over her left shoulder and lay
at her feet. The slender tip of the switch made a two-tone sound as it sliced the
air. No more! she made it say. Enough! Take that!”(AT, p. 74)
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Analyzing the Author’s Style
In chapter seven we come across a minor image of the temple. As a basis for
developing the following image the author employs personification. Study
the information below and complete the tasks.
Persoпificatioп
We know the difference between the literal meanings of ‘war’ and ‘squeeze’ and
the figurative meanings they convey when we talk about the ‘war against
inflation’ and ‘squeezing it out of the system’. Inflation is personified, that is,
turned into а person or entity - it is an ‘еnеmу’ or ‘adversary’ out there in the
world, and gallant politicians ‘wage war’ against it, ‘grapple’ with it and cаll
upon people to ‘make scarifies to defeat it’ - all terms in the same semantic field
with related meanings.
In the headline POUND HEADS FOR NEW CRISIS, the pound is
personified. The fact that currency dealers in international exchanges are buying
and selling sterling at devalued prices is entirely hidden bу the metaphorical
wording of the headline. Тhe metaphor takes over and provides an inaccurate
explanation of а process in which men and women are responsible for what
happens, not 'the pound'.
Dylan Thomas in ‘Under Milk Wood’ personifies the sunrise and likens it to
an energetic person:
The sun springs down оп the rough and tumbling town. It runs through the
hedges of Goosegog Lane, cuffing the birds to sing. Spring whips green down
Cockle Row, and the shells ring out.
(Freeborn, Dennis, Style: Text Analysis and Linguistic Criticism, 1996)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Make a detailed analysis of the extract from ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan
Thomas given above.
2. Identify and analyze the examples of personification in the text of the
chapter. Comment on the impression and effect produced by this trope.
3. The sentences below are taken from “Saturday” another novel by Ian
McEwan (2005). In these sentences:
- define metaphors;
- point out other tropes;
- explain their meanings;
- guess what functions do these tropes fulfill;
- suggest what effect do these tropes provide.
The marchers are still in packed ranks on Gower Street, but the Tottenham
Court Road is now open, with attack-waves of traffic surging northwards. (S, p.
122)
a.
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It is faith, as powerful as any religion that brings people to Harley Street. (S,
p. 123)
c. Waiting at red lights he watches three figures in black burkhas emerge from
a taxi on Devonshire Place. They huddle together on the pavement comparing
the number on a door with a card one of them holds. The one in the middle, the
likely invalid, whose form is somewhat bent, totters as she clings to the forearms
of her companions. The three black columns, stark against the canyon of creamy
stucco and brick, heads bobbing, clearly arguing about the address, have a
farcical appearance, like kids larking about at Halloween. Or like Theo's school
production of Macbeth when the hollowed trees of Birnam wood waited in the
wings to clump across the stage to Dunsinane. (S, p. 123 – 124)
d. Through the windscreen the prosperous street of red brick, the receding
geometry of pavement cracks and small bare trees, look provisional, like an
image projected onto a sheet of thin ice. (S, p. 126)
e. He turns his gaze away, towards the bloodless white flesh, and eviscerated
silver forms with their unaccusing stare, and the deep-sea fish arranged in handy
overlapping steaks of innocent pink, like cardboard pages of a baby's first book.
(S, p. 127)
f. In the old man's weak eyes there was a dog-like cringing look, as if he was
scaring himself and was pleading for someone to restrain him. (S, p. 137)
g. From the radiators he feels on his bare skin waves of heat like a desert
breeze. (S, p. 147)
h. There's a shot of the newsreader at her space-age desk, then the plane as he
saw it in the early hours, the blackened fuselage vivid in a lake of foam, like a
tasteless ornament on an iced cake. (S, p. 166 -167)
i. Into a stockpot he eases the skeletons of three skates. Their heads are intact,
their lips girlishly full. Their eyes go cloudy on contact with the boiling water.
(S, p. 177)
j. Of course, Shakespeare didn't really think he was a little sailing boat among
the ocean-going competition. He was trying it on, being sardonic. So perhaps
you are too, my dear girl.' (S, p. 199)
b.
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CHAPTER 8
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
to pall
to adorn
to idle
to groan
to bleat
to humiliate
to outrage
apt
rigour
scorn
levity
anguish
leer
elation
to bellow
pursuit
a. to utter expressive of pain, grief,
disapproval, etc.
b. light-mindedness
c. to whimper
d. misery and pain
e. appropriate
f. a lustful, unpleasant and cunning
look
g. to become extremely cruel,
immoral
h. to become less appealing or
interesting through familiarity
i. to decorate- to beautify
j. to show disrespect and rejection
k. an act or instance of strictness,
severity or cruelty
l. to spend time doing nothing
m. to disgrace
n. chase, aspiration | occupation
o. euphoria, delight
p. to cry
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To endear, to condescend, to languish, clairvoyance, to lame, rakish .
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
CONTEMPLATIVE – C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _WITH |T _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ L
To DESPISE – To D _ _ _ _ _ N
JOVIAL – C _ _ _ _ _ _ _
To SATURATE – To F _ _ _ WITH
INNOCUOUS – H _ _ _ _ _ _ S
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
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How far are the words:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- common and everyday, or from a specific area of use ( religion, technology,
etc.)?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
Understanding the Plot
1. Comment on the interior of Robbie’s room.
2. Describe and comment on Robbie’s thoughts and feelings towards Cecilia
(p.79-80).
3. Comment on the description of Robbie’s table. What did the author try to say
by this description?
4. What was the significance of the mother in Robbie’s life?
5. What kind of person was Robbie’s mother?
6. What was Robbie’s mother relation with the Tallis family?
7. Comment on Robbie’s preparations before the dinner.
8. What were Robbie’s expectations of this dinner? In what mood was Robbie?
9. Comment on Robbie’s letter writing to Cecilia.
10. Why did Robbie get the idea to write to Cecilia? For what reason?
11. What do we understand about Robbie’s feelings towards Cecilia?
12. How did Robbie imagine himself in 1962? (p.92)
13. How did Robbie bring the letter to Cecilia?
14. What did Robbie realize when he was already walking to the Tallis family?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
- repetitions of words, or parallelisms of phrase and sentence structure?
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
- favoured sentence-types – stating, questioning, commanding or
exclaiming?
“If it’s any excuse, I’ve noticed just lately that I’m rather lightheaded in your
presence. I mean, I’ve never gone barefoot into someone’s house before. It must
be the heat!” How thin it looked, this self-protective levity. He was like a man
with advanced TB pretending to have a cold. He flicked the return lever twice
and rewrote: “It’s hardly an excuse, I know, but lately I seem to be awfully
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lightheaded around you. What was I doing, walking barefoot into your house?
And have I ever snapped off the rim of an antique vase before?” He rested his
hands on the keys while he confronted the urge to type her name again. “Cee, I
don’t think I can blame the heat!” Now jokiness had made way for melodrama,
or plaintiveness. The rhetorical questions had a clammy air; the exclamation
mark was the first resort of those who shout to make themselves clearer. He
forgave this punctuation only in his mother’s letters where a row of five
indicated a jolly good joke. He turned the drum and typed an x. “Cecilia, I don’t
think I can blame the heat.” Now the humor was removed, and an element of
self-pity had crept in. The exclamation mark would have to be reinstated.
Volume was obviously not its only business” (AT, p.85).
9 Revising types of textual intervention – Preludes, Interludes and
Postludes.
- extend the text of the extract “before”, ‘during’ and ‘after’ the events it
represents so as to explore the alternative points of departure, process of
development, or points of arrival.
“Twelve, or was it thirteen? He lost sight of her for a second or two, then saw
her as she crossed the island, highlighted against the darker mass of trees. Then
he lost her again, and it was only when she reappeared, on the far side of the
second bridge, and was leaving the drive to take a shortcut across the grass that
he stood suddenly, seized by horror and absolute certainty. An involuntary,
wordless shout left him as he took a few hurried steps along the drive, faltered,
ran on, then stopped again, knowing that pursuit was pointless. He could no
longer see her as he cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed Briony’s
name. That was pointless too. He stood there, straining his eyes to see her—as if
that would help—and straining his memory too, desperate to believe that he was
mistaken. But there was no mistake. The handwritten letter he had rested on the
open copy of Gray’s Anatomy, page 1546. The typed page, left by him near the
typewriter, was the one he had taken and folded into the envelope. No need for
Freudian smart-aleckry—the explanation was simple and mechanical—the
innocuous letter was lying across figure 1236, while his obscene draft was on
the table, within easy reach. He bellowed Briony’s name again, though he knew
she must be by the front entrance by now. Sure enough, within seconds, a distant
rhombus of ocher light containing her outline widened, paused, then narrowed
to nothing as she entered the house and the door was closed behind” (AT, p.94).
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Analyzing the Author’s Style
Chapter 8 contains a literary allusion. Study the following text and answer
the questions.
Allusion, an indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic
work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies
on the reader’s familiarity with what is thus mentioned. The technique of
allusion is an economical means of calling upon the history or the literary
tradition that author and reader are assumed to share, although some poets
(notably Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot) allude to areas of quite specialized
knowledge. In his poem “The Statues”
When Pearse summoned Cuchulain to his side
What stalked through the Post Office?
W.B.Yeats alludes both to the hero of Celtic legend (Cuchulain) and to the new
historical hero (Patrick Pearse) of the 1916 Easter Rising, in which the
revolutionaries captured the Dublin Post Office. In addition to such topical
allusions to recent events, Yeats often uses personal allusions to aspects of his
own life and circle of friends. Other kinds of allusion include the imitative (as in
parody), and the structural, in which one work reminds us of the structure of
another (as Joyce’s Ulysses refers to Homer’s Odyssey). Topical allusion is
especially important in satire.
(Baldick, Chris, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 2001)
Review Tasks and Questions
1. What is allusion?
2. For what stylistic and literary purposes is it used?
3. Comment on the example given from W.B.Yeats’s poem. Explain the
presented allusion.
4. What are the possible types of allusion?
5. Provide the example of allusion in the text of the chapter. Pay special
attention on the use of allusion to create the image of Robbie.
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CHAPTER 9
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
austere
to droop
churlish
to prod
virtue
hue
shrill
a. behaviour showing high moral
standards - a morally good or
desirable quality - a good or useful
quality of a thing
b. severe , strict | lacking comfort
c. rude, mean-spirited
d. to impel
e. piercing | persistent
f. colour
g. to bend or sag down
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To dissuade, chum, nullity, intrusive.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
LUSCIOUS – S _ _ _ _ | S _ _ _ _ _ _ _ E
WHIMSICAL – E _ _ _ _ _ _ _ C | C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ S
LOATHSOME – R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ E
To ANIMATE – To I _ _ _ _ _ E
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
Understanding the Plot
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Comment on Cecilia’s dressing in front of the mirror.
Comment on the talk between Cecilia and Jackson.
What was the episode with the socks about? (p. 100-101)
How did Cecilia act in that situation? (p. 100-101)
Can we characterize Cecilia’s actions as mother-like ones?
What were Cecilia’s expectations of the coming evening?
Describe the relations between Cecilia and Leon (p. 110-112).
Comment on the talk between Cecilia and Leon.
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9. Can we characterize the relations between Cecilia and Leon as of a brother
and a sister?
10. How did Cecilia receive the letter from Briony?
11. What was Cecilia’s reaction to the letter?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- familiar collocations (recognizable word-clusters) – or is much of it
strikingly new?
- speech moves, turns and exchanges with specific structures?
“Conscious of her mother watching her, Cecilia adopted an expression of
amused curiosity as she unfolded the sheet. Commendably, it was a look she was
able to maintain as she took in the small block of typewriting and in a glance
absorbed it whole—a unit of meaning whose force and color was derived from
the single repeated word. At her elbow, Briony was telling Leon about the play
she had written for him, and lamenting her failure to stage it. The Trials of
Arabella, she kept repeating. The Trials of Arabella. Never had she appeared so
animated, so weirdly excited. She still had her arms about his neck, and was
standing on tiptoe to nuzzle her cheek against his. Initially, a simple phrase
chased round and round in Cecilia’s thoughts: Of course, of course. How had
she not seen it? Everything was explained. The whole day, the weeks before, her
childhood. A lifetime. It was clear to her now. Why else take so long to choose
a dress, or fight over a vase, or find everything so different, or be unable to
leave? What had made her so blind, so obtuse? Many seconds had passed, and it
was no longer plausible to be staring fixedly at the sheet of paper. The act of
folding it away brought her to an obvious realization: it could not have been
sent unsealed. She turned to look at her sister” (AT, p.111).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
Chapter 9 is rich in description. Read the information below and answer the
questions.
Description serves to depict in detail the state of things. The statements
come not in consecutive order but in a parallel manner, the predicates are mostly
of the compound nominal type. Emphasis is put on attributes, predicatives and
other qualifying features.
Any description can be said to consist of a theme designating the object,
being, situation, or happening described (e.g. “house”) and a set of subthemes
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designating its component parts (e.g., “door”, “room”, “window”, “wall”). The
theme or subthemes can be characterized qualitatively (in terms of their
qualities: “the door was beautiful”, “the wall was green”) or functionally (in
terms of their function or use:”the room was only used for special occasions”).
Description is traditionally used to depict nature, premises, appearance, and
also for characterization.
Descriptions of nature are usually distinguished for their elevated and
lyrical character. Personification is a favourite trope in this kind of narrator’s
discourse. All this approximates such descriptions to poetry.
Description of dwellings plays a considerable role as a setting of the
narrative and what is more as an indirect method of characterization of their
inhabitants. It is usually unhurried and loaded with detail. Like any description,
it is often rich in similes and metaphors.
Portrayal of human appearance in words requires no lesser skill and
subtlety than portraiture in paints.
Authors resort to a direct and sustained description of a character’s
personality comparatively rarely preferring to show it through the character’s
actions, speech, other people’s opinions, etc.
Direct characterization entails a direct manifestation of the author’s
attitude, of his point of view. That is why such descriptions always have a clear
emotive-evaluative key.
A description can be more or less detailed and precise; objective or
subjective; typical and stylized or, on the contrary, individualizing; decorative or
explanatory/functional (establishing the tone or mood of a passage, conveying
plot-relevant information, contributing to characterization, introducing or
reinforcing a theme, symbolizing a conflict to come.
The narrator’s discourse can be a blend of narrative and description, known
as “dynamic” description which depicts a simultaneous concourse of actions
within a limited time and space as well as the state of things.
(Genette Gerard, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, 1980;
Riffaterre, Michael, Essais de stylistique structurale. 1971)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Review Tasks and Questions
What predicates are typical of description?
Why is direct characterization considered to be an infrequent type of
description?
What do you understand by dynamic description?
What does any description consist of?
How can the theme of any description and its subthemes be characterized?
Provide the examples of description in the text of the chapter.
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CHAPTER 10
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalent.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
savage
to vindicate
appalling
brute
to flaunt
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
cruel
terrible, horrible
wild | cruel | rude’
to show off
to prove
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Crudity, to huddle, Chinese burn.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
OBTUSE – S _ _ _ _ _
LUMINOUS – B _ _ _ _ _
To VENT – To R _ _ _ _ _ _ | To E _ _ _ _ _ S
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- short or long; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1. Did Briony read the letter?
2. What was Briony’s reaction? What did she feel at that moment?
3. Briony thinks about its implications for her new idea of herself as a writer,
doesn’t she? (p. 113-115).
4. What ideas for the new plot appeared in her mind?
5. What was special about making diary notes?
6. Comment on the talk between Lola and Briony.
7. What happened to Lola? ( p.117-118)
8. Why did Lola blame the twins?
9. What was Lola’s reaction to the letter?
10. Briony didn’t doubt that her sister was in some way threatened and would
need her help, did she?
11. What was Briony’s plan? What was she going to do? (p.119)
12. Why did Robbie’s uncensored letter seem so offensive within the social
context of the family?
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13. What feelings and thoughts did Briony have when passing the library?
(p.122)
14. What scene did Briony witness? Comment on her feelings. (p.122-123)
15. How did the fact that it was narrated from Robbie’s point of view affect the
reader’s feelings?
Exploring the Theme
1. Is it understandable that Briony, looking on, perceives this act of love as an
act of violence?
2. Can we explain why?
3. Does it because of she wasn’t old enough to understand it or because it was
an act of revenge and self- importance?
4. How is Leon, with his life of agreeable nullity, compared with Robbie in
terms of honor and ambition?
5. What are the qualities that make Robbie such a romantic hero?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- coordinated and / or subordinated structures?
DEFINITION:
Coordination contrasts with subordination, where there is some
implication that the clauses that are linked are not of equal importance:
We were stacked up for nearly twenty minutes in a holding circuit
round London (before they could find us a runway)
Here the second clause, introduced by before, could not stand on its own
and is subordinate. In most texts, clauses are linked by both coordination
and subordination, but the relative ratios can change dramatically
depending on the style of text.
(Pope, Rob, Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies
for Literary Studies, 2001)
“A maniac. The word had refinement, and the weight of medical diagnosis. All
these years she had known him and that was what he had been. When she was
little he used to carry her on his back and pretend to be a beast. She had been
alone with him many times at the swimming hole where he taught her one
summer how to tread water and do the breaststroke. Now his condition was
named she felt a certain consolation, though the mystery of the fountain episode
deepened. She had already decided not to tell that story, suspecting that the
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explanation was simple and that it would be better not to expose her ignorance”
(AT, p. 119).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- lightly or heavily modified nouns – pre- or post-modified; in/ definite
articles?
- predominantly common nouns, proper nouns or personal pronouns?
“The word: she tried to prevent it sounding in her thoughts, and yet it danced
through them obscenely, a typographical demon, juggling vague, insinuating
anagrams—an uncle and a nut, the Latin for next, an Old English king
attempting to turn back the tide. Rhyming words took their form from children’s
books—the smallest pig in the litter, the hounds pursuing the fox, the flatbottomed boats on the Cam by Grantchester meadow. Naturally, she had never
heard the word spoken, or seen it in print, or come across it in asterisks. No one
in her presence had ever referred to the word’s existence, and what was more,
no one, not even her mother, had ever referred to the existence of that part of
her to which—Briony was certain—the word referred. She had no doubt that
that was what it was. The context helped, but more than that, the word was at
one with its meaning, and was almost onomatopoeic. The smooth-hollowed,
partly enclosed forms of its first three letters were as clear as a set of
anatomical drawings. Three figures huddling at the foot of the cross. That the
word had been written by a man confessing to an image in his mind, confiding a
lonely preoccupation, disgusted her profoundly” (AT, p. 114).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
Taking up the distinction between characters and people, Clair Messud
discusses the aspect of Atonement that is of the major importance to
McEwan in terms of morality: recognition of others’ consciousness. This is
essential for McEwan to underprint the novelist’s attempt to represent social
interaction. In a world of one’s own creation, the novelist can know
everything, but this can never be true to life. Study the extract from the
critical review and complete the questions.
[…] Briony hovers at the end of the childhood but lives her fantasies with an
adult fierceness, wondering to herself, “<Was> everyone else really as alive as
she was? For example, did her sister really matter to herself; was she as valuable
to herself as Briony was? Was being Cecilia just as vivid an affair as being
Briony? Although she knows rationally that this must be so, she is also
enamored of herself as a writer, and believes that writing imbues her great
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powers. Here is a childish and arrogant faith, dangerously let lose upon the
household that surrounds her. That communication is composed of vast gaps and
desperate, distant signals is something Briony will learn through suffering-her
own, eventually, but more immediately other people’s. Briony is old enough to
recognize the complexity of what she witnesses (between Cecilia and Robbie)
but perhaps not old enough to see that it is a matter of reality, not story.
She could write the scene three times over, from there 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 the other minds were equally alive.
And yet by her very construction of events Briony passes judgment,
determines “good” and “bad”: as the evening unfolds, her interpretation of each
action and interaction around her is shaped by her understanding of what she has
seen, and although she believes absolutely in the inevitability of the story she
constructs, we can see that it is partial, in both senses of the word.
(Messud, Clair, ‘The Beauty of the Conjuring’, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What attitude does Clair Messud express towards the character of Briony?
2. Is there any point we can justify Briony’s behavior?
3. Study the ways McEwan employs to create an image of Briony as a novelist.
Find the proof in the text.
David Lodge in his book The Art of Fiction touches upon the problem of
intertextuality which is one of the major features of postmodernist literature
and McEwan’s fiction in particular. Study the article and complete the
tasks.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS by which one text can refer to another: parody,
pastiche, echo, allusion, direct quotation, structural parallelism. Some theorists
believe that intertextuality is the very condition of literature, that all texts are
woven from the tissues of other texts, whether their authors know it or not.
Writers committed to documentary-style realism will tend to deny or suppress
this principle. Samuel Richardson, for instance, thought he had invented an
entirely new kind of fiction which was quite independent of earlier literature, but
it is easy to see in Pamela (1740), his story of a virtuous maidservant who
marries her master after many trials and tribulations, a fairy-tale archetype. The
next important English novel was Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742),
which starts out as a parody of Pamela, and incorporates a reworking of the
parable of the Good Samaritan and many passages written in mock-heroic style.
Intertextuality, in short, is entwined in the roots of the English novel, while at
the other end of the chronological spectrum novelists have tended to exploit
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rather than resist it, freely recycling old myths and earlier works of literature to
shape, or add resonance to, their presentation of contemporary life.
Some writers signpost such references more explicitly than others. James
Joyce tipped off his readers by entitling his epic of modern Dublin life Ulysses,
Nabokov by giving Lolita’s precursor the name of Poe’s Annabel. Conrad may
have been conveying a subtler hint in the subtitle of The Shadow-Line: “A
Confession.”
James Joyce’s Ulysses is probably the most celebrated and influential
example of intertextuality in modern literature. When it appeared in 1922, T. S.
Eliot hailed Joyce’s use of the Odyssey as a structural device, “manipulating a
continuous parallel between contemporanity and antiquity”, as an exciting
technical breakthrough, “a step towards making the modern world possible for
art.” Since Eliot had been reading Joyce’s novel in serial form over the
preceding years, while working on his own great poem “The Waste Land”, also
published in 1922, in which he manipulated a continuous parallel between
contemporaneity and the Grail legend, we may interpret his praise of Ulysses as
part acknowledgment, and part manifesto. But in neither work is intertextuality
limited to one source, or to structural parallelism. “The Waste Land” echoes
many different sources; Ulysses is full of parody, pastiche, quotations from and
allusions to all kinds of texts. There is, for instance, a chapter set in a newspaper
office, divided into sections with headlines that mimic the development of
journalistic style, a chapter written largely in a pastiche of cheap women’s
magazines, and another, set in a maternity hospital, that parodies the historical
development of English prose from the Anglo-Saxon period to die twentieth
century.
Since I combined writing fiction with an academic career for nearly thirty
years it is not surprising that my own novels became increasingly intertextual;
and, as it happens, both Joyce and Eliot were significant influences in this
respect, especially the former. The parodies in The British Museum is Falling
Down were inspired by the example of Ulysses, as was its one-day action, and
the last chapter is a rather cheeky Homage to Molly Bloom’s monologue. The
“break-through” point in the genesis of Small World came when I perceived the
possibility of basing a comic-satiric novel about the academic jet-set, zooming
round the world to international conferences where they competed with each
other both professionally and erotically, on the story of King Arthur and his
knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Grail, especially as
interpreted by Jessie L. Weston in a book that T. S. Eliot had raided for “The
Waste Land”. I have written elsewhere about the genesis of these novels (in the
Afterword to The British Museum and in Write On) and mention them here to
make the point that intertextuality is not, or not necessarily, a merely decorative
addition to a text, but sometimes a crucial factor in its conception and
composition […].
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
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Review Questions and Tasks
1. Define the following terms and provide the examples:
Parody, pastiche, echo, allusion, direct quotation, structural parallelism
2. What do some theorists understand under intertextuality?
3. How do novels by Richardson and Fielding deny the existence of
intertextuality?
4. What is the significance of Joyce’s novel Ulysess in the point of
intertextuality?
Writing Activity
There are different modes of critical-creating writing such as traditional
academic essay, analysis etc.
‘Imitation” is a technique of recasting the base text in the manner – andmatter- of another author. It entails transformations of fundamental issues
and discourses, along with settings and contexts, etc.
Here you can read the information on gothic fiction and ghost stories.
GOTHIC FICTION: Frightening or horrifying stories of various kinds have
been told in all ages, but the literary tradition confusingly designated as
'Gothic' is a distinct modern development in which the characteristic theme is
the stranglehold of the past upon the present, or the encroachment of the 'dark'
ages of oppression upon the 'enlightened' modern era. This theme is embodied
typically in enclosed and haunted settings such as castles, crypts, convents, or
gloomy mansions, in images of ruin and decay, and in episodes of
imprisonment, cruelty, and persecution. The first important experiment in the
genre was Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764, subtitled A Gothic
Story in the 2nd edn, 1765).
The great vogue for Gothic novels occurred in Britain and Ireland in the
three decades after 1790, culminating in Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer
(1820). During this period, the leading practitioner was A. Radcliffe, whose
major works The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho
(1794), and The Italian (1797) were decorous in their exhibitions of refined
sensibility and of virtue in distress. Udolpho in particular established the
genre's central figure: that of the apprehensive heroine exploring a sinister
building in which she is trapped by the aristocratic villain.
Among several talented imitators of Radcliffe, the most striking is M. G.
Lewis, whose novel The Monk (1796) cast aside Radcliffe's decorum in its
sensational depictions of diabolism and incestuous rape.
By the 1820s the Gothic novel had given way to the more credible
historical novels of Scott, its clichés by now provoking less terror than
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affectionate amusement, as in Jane Austen's parody, Northanger Abbey
(1818). Some tales of terror, published by Blackwood's Magazine and the New
Monthly Magazine, retained the Gothic flavour in more concentrated forms,
and Polidori's story 'The Vampyre' (1819) launched the powerful new Gothic
sub-genre of vampiric fiction, which commonly expresses middle-class
suspicion of the decadent aristocracy. From these sources the first master of
American Gothic writing, 'Poe, developed a more intensely hysterical style of
short Gothic narrative, of which "The Fall of the House of Usher' (1839) is the
classic model. Since Poe's time American short story writing, from
'Hawthorne to Joyce Carol 'Oates, has frequently resorted to Gothic themes.
In the first part of the 20th cent, the Gothic tradition was continued
principally by writers of ghost stories, such as M. R. James and A.
Blackwood, and by fantasy- writers, notably Merryn Peake. A major
exception in the realm of higher literary achievement is the work of Faulkner,
which renews and transcends the Gothic genre in its preoccupation with the
doomed landowning dynasties of the American South. His novel Sanctuary
(1931) is still a shocking exercise in Gothic sensationalism, surpassed by the
tragic depth of his Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and by several of his shorter
stories. Daphne du Maurier meanwhile opened a new vein of popular Gothic
romance with Rebecca (1938), which revived I he mot if of the defenceless
heroine virtually imprisoned in the house of a secretive master figure. The
Hollywood cinema gave Gothic narrative a favoured place in the popular
imagination through its adaptations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and other
literary works.
In the 1960s, leading English novelists, including Murdoch, Fowles, and
Storey, experimented with Gothic effects. As a taste for non-realistic forms of
fiction established itself, Gothic settings and character types reappeared
regularly ill the repertoire of serious fiction. The novels and stories of Angela
'Carter, notably The Magic Toyshop (1967) and Vie Bloody Chamber and
Other Stories (1979), imaginatively employ Gothic images of sexuality and
domestic confinement to explore the concerns of contemporary feminism.
The critical fortunes of Gothic writing have swung intermittently
between derision of its hoary clichés and enthusiasm for its atmospheric,
psychologically suggestive power. From either side, the Gothic tradition is
usually considered a junior rival to the mainstream of fictional realism.
Walpole inaugurated the tradition in the hope that the lifelike solidity of
realism might be reconciled with the imaginative range of romance. It fell to
his greater successors—the Bronte sisters, Dickens, and Faulkner—to fulfill
this promise.
(The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2003)
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In your texts use the words which were taken from the chapters:
To compel, to leap, to taint, dubious, exultation, to reprove, perverse, to
banish, to retrieve, to tug, to loll, to elongate, to devise, to hobble, to
revolt, to frown, junk, mock, obsession, to dazzle, to deprive, warmonger,
doze, malice, obscenity, levity, loathsome, brute, to despise, jovial, to
saturate, chum, nullity, intrusive, luscious, whimsical, to vindicate, to
flaunt, obtuse, innocuous, tether, to conceal, sibling, solitude, torment,
calamity, awkward, prone, to shimmer, sheer, grim, to humiliate,
dissuade, petty, merciless, refugee, affliction, to condemn,
condescension, errand, to coax, to mitigate, to prop, to loom.
GHOST STORIES: The ghost story genre may be broadly defined as
comprising short stories or, less commonly, novels or novellas which have as
their central theme the power of the dead to return and confront the living.
'Real' ghosts, according to report, are often spasmodic, mute, and obedient to
simple laws (a murder to be revealed, a warning to be given). But in fiction,
ghosts appear to operate within a moral and physical universe that
interpenetrates our own but whose workings are wholly inexplicable to us.
Moreover, fictional ghosts take many forms, from the recognizably human to
the fearfully alien: insubstantial wraiths or corporeal creatures with the ability
to inflict gross physical harm. Or they may never reveal themselves at all,
relying instead on an ability to infect and control the minds of the living.
Literary ghost stories were largely a Victorian creation, and often
included admonitions to rationalism; others took account of attempts to
establish the objective existence of supernatural phenomena by devising
narratives in which the author posed as the recorder of events, as in The NightSide of Nature (1848) by Catherine Crowe (1790—1876), a collection of tales
claiming to be based on actual experiences.
The ghost story's immediate literary antecedents were the "Gothic short
stories and fragments, common in English magazines during the late '18th and
early 19th cents', but while the short story remained the genre's dominant
form, 19th-cent, ghost stories were quite different from their predecessors.
An early example of a story which struck a new and distinctly anti-Gothic
note was Sir W. Scott's 'The Tapestried Chamber' (1828). The story lakes
place in an English castle, set in a real English landscape in the recent past;
and its ghost is disturbingly palpable. Such characteristics became fully
developed in the stories of Le Fanu, who created the most consistently
impressive body of short ghost fiction in the Victorian period. Le Fanu gave
his most effective stories credible set tings and characters and was adept at
creating ghosts that induced physical fear—like the famous spectral monkey in
'Green Tea' (1869).
The first thirty years of the 20th cent, saw the rise of specialist ghost
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story writers such as A. 'Blackwood (The Listener, 1907); W. F. Harvey
(1885-1937: Midnight House, 1910); E. F. Benson (The Room in the Tower.
1912); A. M. Burrage (1889-1956: Some Ghost Stories, 1927); and H. Russell
Wakefield (1888-1964: They Return at Evening, 1928). Like their Victorian
predecessors, these writers show us ordinary men and women confronted by
mysteries that are beyond nature and reason. Ghost stories continue to be
written and read; their resilience and adaptability testifying to the tenacity of
what Virginia Woolf called 'the strange human craving for the pleasure of
feeling afraid'.
(The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2003)
In your texts use the words which were taken from the chapters:
To confide, disgrace, threshold, aloof, to tumble, slum, to suffocate,
tranquil, shallow, to lame, appalling, savage, luminous, distraught,
choker, brattle, to evanesce, quaver, wince, wan, torpor, sullen,
languish, clairvoyance, droop, hue, shrill, to murmur, counterpane, to
mumble, nettle, exasperation. pinprick, to whimper, coyly, savour, to
embrace, solemn, to idle, Chinese burn, poised, to tickle, dismissive,
incisor, blemish, gyp, sooth, to sulk, to condescend, rakish,
contemplative, churlish, prod, virtue, crudity, to huddle, to vent.
Your task is to write a text imitating one of the two genres mentioned above:
- choose a genre you like best;
- think over the content of the text ( the plot, the characters, the setting
etc.);
- make a plan to summarize your thoughts;
- express your ideas in writing;
- use the words in the box (they were meaningfully grouped from the
chapters).
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CHAPTER 11
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
to revive
a.
absurd
2.
to subdue
b.
to overcome, to bring under
3.
ludicrous
control
4.
to bemuse
c.
to stun
5.
to goad
d.
to incite
6.
inanity
e.
to recover
7.
exuberance
f.
abundance
g.
emptiness | silliness
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Turmoil, lithe, to flummox, gnawing pain, abyss, lukewarm, commotion,
gunslinger.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
HILARITY – F _ _
FRENZY – H _ _ _ _ _ _ _
To ADMOLISH – To W _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
Understanding the Plot
1. What was the atmosphere during the dinner like? (p.125-126)
2. What was Robbie feeling before entering the house?
3. What was the talk between Cecilia and Robbie about?
4. How important was this talk for their relations?
5. How significant was the scene in the library?
6. How did Cecilia and Robbie behave at the table?
7. What was Briony’s behaviour like? (p. 139-145)
8. What was the letter Briony brought to the guests?
9. What was the reaction of the guests? (Emily’s, Marshall’s, Leon’s, Cecilia’s
and Robbie’s)
10. Did the guests take it seriously?
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11.
12.
13.
14.
What was the argument between Cecilia and Briony about? (p. 139-141)
How can we characterize the behavior of the sisters?
Did Paul Marshall look suspicious during the dinner?
How was Lola acting at the table?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are grouped
or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- repetitions of words, or parallelisms of phrase and sentence structure?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the participants:
- passive subjects or active agents?
- affected or affecting?
- depersonalized or personalized?
“He opened his eyes. It was a library, in a house, in total silence. He was
wearing his best suit. Yes, it all came back to him with relative ease. He strained
to look over his shoulder and saw only the dimly illuminated desk, there as
before, as though remembered from a dream. From where they were in their
corner, it was not possible to see the door. But there was no sound, not a thing.
She was mistaken, he was desperate for her to be mistaken and she actually was.
He turned back to her, and was about to tell her so, when she tightened her grip
on his arm and he looked back once more. Briony moved slowly into their view,
stopped by the desk and saw them. She stood there stupidly, staring at them, her
arms hanging loose at her sides, like a gunslinger in a Western showdown. In
that shrinking moment he discovered that he had never hated anyone until now.
It was a feeling as pure as love, but dispassionate and icily rational. There was
nothing personal about it, for he would have hated anyone who came in. There
were drinks in the drawing room or on the terrace, and that was where Briony
was supposed to be—with her mother, and the brother she adored, and the little
cousins. There was no good reason why she should be in the library, except to
find him and deny him what was his. He saw it clearly, how it had happened:
she had opened a sealed envelope to read his note and been disgusted, and in
her obscure way felt betrayed. She had come looking for her sister—no doubt
with the exhilarated notion of protecting her, or admonishing her, and had
heard a noise from behind the closed library door. Propelled from the depths of
her ignorance, silly imagining and girlish rectitude, she had come to call a halt.
And she hardly had to do that—of their own accord, they had moved apart and
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turned away, and now both were discreetly straightening their clothes. It was
over”(AT, p.138-139).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
John Mullan in his work “Elements of Fiction: turning up the heat” discusses
the role the weather plays in the novel, concentrating on the way McEwan
uses the image of the heat wave. Study the text and answer the questions.
[…] "I love England in a heat wave," says Leon Tallis in Atonement. "It's a
different country. All the rules change." There is dramatic irony in his
complacent small talk. Restraints have already begun to collapse. Robbie and
Cecilia have become fumbling lovers and have been interrupted by the appalled
Briony.
The weather is suffocating. In "an aroma of warmed dust from the Persian
carpet" the characters try to eat their sweltering roast dinner. Very English.
Before the evening is out, the shocking and mysterious act of violence at the
novel's heart will have been committed. And Briony will have committed her
crime of false testimony.
Heat hangs over the first part of McEwan's novel and shapes its action. Emily
Tallis lies nursing her migraine and thinks of "the vast heat that rose above the
house and park, and lay across the Home Counties like smoke, suffocating the
farms and towns". Later she jokes that her parents thought that "hot weather
encouraged loose morals amongst young people". They were right. Unknown to
her, passion and resentment are brewing. "Fewer layers of clothing, a thousand
more places to meet. Out of doors, out of control", she goes on. Wise heads they
were, to want to keep their English daughters indoors […]
(Mullan, John, “Elements of Fiction: turning up the heat”2003)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is the impact of the heat implied by the author?
2. What atmosphere is created?
3. With what stylistic means does McEwan introduce and emphasize this
image? Examine the text of the chapter to find the examples.
4. Check up the meanings of the words in the box and use them in the
sentences of your own:
Restraints, collapse, appalled, suffocate, swelter, testimony, resentment.
[…]There is something about hot weather that fascinates English novelists.
There is the heat, of course, of foreign places: Conrad's Africa or East Indies,
Forster's Italy or India, Greene's colonial outposts. It transforms or saturates
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European characters, overcoming their defenses and perhaps releasing them
from inhibitions.
It is a received truth that foreign heat undoes repression. Yet, in novels, the
heat of an English summer - in a country not used to such things - is strange in a
different way. The characters in Atonement themselves realise this, storing up
meteorological observations as if they sense that something extraordinary is
happening. Robbie notes the "improbable" effects of light on a baking evening;
Briony records the smells of "the hard-fired earth which still held the embers of
the day's heat and exhaled the mineral odor of clay".
It is odd that the novel, the genre committed to life's circumstantialities, did
not discover the weather until the 19th century. In 18th-century fiction, storms
or balmy days are merely convenient for the story. Real weather in fiction
intrudes.
One of the earliest novelists to be interested in weather was Jane Austen, ever
attentive to the small comforts and discomforts of her characters. There is a
memorable heat wave in Emma (a novel in which the weather is several times
important to the plot). During the party at Mr Knightley's Donwell Abbey, heat
erodes gentility. Amid irritation and tactlessness, even the saving maneuvers of
politeness fail. "Some people were always cross when they were hot," Emma
observes. The appalling Mrs Elton is defeated by the sun as she never was by
any rival lady, her very language melting into nonsensical mutters.
The country house summer swoon of Atonement recalls the long heat of LP
Hartley's The Go-Between. Animation is suspended; the habits of every day are
halted. Sometimes disastrously, heat releases the English from reserve and
novelists have often used it for episodes of sexual awakening. The unnatural
stirrings of adolescent sexual instinct in McEwan's first novel, The Cement
Garden, naturally take place during a heat wave. The extraordinary chapters of
Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles set at Talbothays Dairy, charting the growing
attraction between Tess and Angel Clare, rely on hot weather. In "Ethiopic"
heat, the air of the novel becomes "stagnant and enervating". "And as Clare was
oppressed by the outward heats, so was he burdened inwardly by the waxing
fervor of passion for the soft and silent Tess."
Perhaps there are also memories of the old-fashioned children's story (of Enid
Blyton or Arthur Ransome) in long days of fictional heat. Atonement trades
effectively on the importance of weather to recollection, the idea that summers
were always hotter in the past. The structure of the novel - the events of its first
part compulsively recollected in the following three parts - makes the hot,
suffocating days of its opening seem to belong to another time: distant, past, yet
palpably there in the memorable, inescapable sense of the weather.
(Mullan, John, “Elements of Fiction: turning up the heat”2003)
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Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is the significance of heat in English novels?
2. Analyze the references (in bold) made by Mullan to other English novels.
Study the major themes and problems of these novels and the impact of the
heat produced.
3. Outline the tradition of the interest expressed to the image of the heat in
English novels.
4. What was the role of Jane Austin’s works in accordance to this point?
5. In what connection does Mullan mention L.P. Hartley and his novel The GoBetween?
6. Is there any analogy that can be made between L.P. Hartley’s novel and
Atonement?
7. How was that image expressed in Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles?
8. What other literary traditions are mentioned by Mullan exploring this
problem?
9. Can you give any other examples of novels where the weather played a
significant role?
David Lodge in his book “The Art of Fiction” also analysis the role of the
image of the weather in English novels. Study the text from David Lodge’s
book “The Art of Fiction” and complete the tasks.
Weather
The evening of this day was very long, and melancholy, at Hartfield. The
weather added what it could of gloom. A cold stormy rain set in, and nothing of
July appeared but in the trees and shrubs, which the wind was despoiling, and
the length of the day, which only made such cruel sights the longer visible.
JANE AUSTEN Emma (1816)
APART FROM THE ODD STORM at sea, weather was given scant attention in
prose fiction until the late eighteenth century. In the nineteenth, novelists always
seem to be talking about it. This was the consequence partly of the heightened
appreciation of Nature engendered by Romantic poetry and painting, partly of a
growing literary interest in the individual self, in states of feeling that affect and
are affected by our perceptions of the external world. As Coleridge put it in his
ode on "Dejection":
О Lady! We receive but what we give and in our life alone does Nature live.
We all know that the weather affects our moods. The novelist is in the happy
position of being able to invent whatever weather is appropriate to the mood he
or she wants to evoke.
Weather is therefore frequently a trigger for the effect John Ruskin called the
pathetic fallacy, the projection of human emotions onto phenomena in the
natural world. "All violent feelings . . . produce in us falseness in our
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impressions of external things, which I would generally characterize as the
pathetic fallacy," he wrote. As the name implies, Ruskin thought it was a bad
thing, a symptom of the decadence of modern (as compared to classical) art and
literature, and it is indeed often the occasion of overblown, self-indulgent
writing. But used with intelligence and discretion it is a rhetorical device
capable of moving and powerful effects, without which fiction would be much
the poorer.
Jane Austen retained an Augustan suspicion of the Romantic imagination, and
satirized it in the characterization of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. "It is not
everyone who has your passion for dead leaves," her sister Elinor comments
drily after Marianne's autumn rhapsody, "How have I delighted, as I walked, to
see them driven in showers about me by the wind. What feelings have they, the
season, the air altogether inspired!" Weather in Jane Austen's novels is usually
something that has an important practical bearing on the social life of her
characters, rather than a metaphorical index of their inner lives.
The weather was most favorable to her. . . The ground covered with snow,
and the atmosphere in that unsettled state between frost and thaw, which is of
all the others the most unfriendly for exercise, every morning beginning in rain
or snow, and every evening setting in to freeze, she was for many days a most
honorable prisoner.
The weather is described because it is relevant to the story, but the description
is quite literal. Even Jane Austen, however, makes discreet use of the pathetic
fallacy on occasion. When Emma's fortunes are at their lowest ebb, when she
has discovered the truth, with all its embarrassing implications for her own
conduct, about Jane Fairfax, when she belatedly realizes that she loves Mr
Knighdey but has reason to believe he is going to marry Harriet - on this, the
worst day of her life, "the weather added what it could of gloom." Ruskin would
point out that the weather is incapable of any such intention. But the summer
storm is a precise analogy for the heroine's feelings about her future, because her
very fixed and prominent position in the small and enclosed society of
Highbury will only make such "cruel sights" as Harriet's marriage to Knighdey
"the longer visible". Being unseasonable, however, it is an unreliable portent:
next day, the sun comes out again and George Knightley turns up to propose to
Emma.
(Lodge, David The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
What is the attention paid to the image of weather in fiction?
2.
How do the weather images affect readers?
3.
What are the effects produced?
4.
How did Jane Austen contribute to weather description in her fiction?
5.
In what way did Jane Austen express the link between weather and the
state of the characters?
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CHAPTER 12
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
garrulous
tangible
hypocrisy
ruthless
to scowl
aggrandizement
reefer
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
material | clear
hardhearted
pretense
pickpocket
rise, increase
to frown
talkative
9
Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To soliloquize, to prance, scallywag.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
EVENTUALITY – P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Y
VINDICATION – J_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ N
PREPOSTEROUS – A _ _ _ _ _ | F _ _ _ _ _ H
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- common and everyday, or from a specific area of use ( religion,
technology, etc.)?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
Understanding the Plot
1. What did Emily think and speculate about the happening?
2. Why was Emily comparing Lola with her mother?
3. What was the ground for the comparison?
4. What do we know about the husband, Jack Tallis?
5. Did Jack Tallis play a significant part in the life of the family?
6. What were the relations between Jack and Emily like?
7. Was Emily worried or unhappy about the relation with the husband?
8. What kind of relations did Jack and Robbie have?
9. What was the phone call that Emily received about? (p.153-155)
10. The attitude to Robbie expressed by the members of the family changed,
didn’t it? Why? (p.151)
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Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
- lightly or heavily modalised verbs- with auxiliary verbs and/or adverbs?
“Her spirits were not particularly lowered by these commonplace reflections.
She floated above them, gazing down neutrally, absently braiding them with
other preoccupations. She planned to plant a clump of ceanothus along the
approach to the swimming pool. Robbie was wanting to persuade her to erect a
pergola and train along it a slow-growing wisteria whose flower and scent he
liked. But she and Jack would be long buried before the full effect was achieved.
The story would be over. She thought of Robbie at dinner when there had been
something manic and glazed in his look. Might he be smoking the reefers she
had read about in a magazine, these cigarettes that drove young men of
bohemian inclination across the borders of insanity? She liked him well enough,
and was pleased for Grace Turner that he had turned out to be bright. But
really, he was a hobby of Jack’s, living proof of some leveling principle he had
pursued through the years. When he spoke about Robbie, which wasn’t often, it
was with a touch of self-righteous vindication. Something had been established
which Emily took to be a criticism of herself. She had opposed Jack when he
proposed paying for the boy’s education, which smacked of meddling to her, and
unfair on Leon and the girls. She did not consider herself proved wrong simply
because Robbie had come away from Cambridge with a first. In fact, it had
made things harder for Cecilia with her third, though it was preposterous of her
to pretend to be disappointed. Robbie’s elevation. “Nothing good will come of
it” was the phrase she often used, to which Jack would respond smugly that
plenty of good had come already”(AT, p.151).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
In chapter 12 McEwan resorts to the theme of woman’s role in the society
which was covered in previous chapters. Read the extract from the review
and answer the questions.
This chapter gives us a perfect chance to half-open the inner world of
Emily Tallis; this part is seen through her eyes. While alone in the house she
contemplates her sister, Hermione, as Emily recognizes her in Lola. She is
pondering of her younger sister’s situation and no matter how hard she has been
trying the only feeling that’s filing her is contempt. She was seeking for divorce,
having abandoned her children and run off to Europe with a lover. Such
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behavior of a woman of their class was unacceptable and Emily treated it as
completely disgraceful disrespect to the institution of marriage. But was it just
the matter of morality and devotion to the matrimonial tradition or was it just
one more attack of helplessness and the fear of losing one’s grip. Hermione’s
image introduces alongside with Cecilia’s image the changing traditions in the
society and growing revolution of women’s role and rights. The ideas of
feminism and the right to pursue one’s own life were swiftly growing and were
about to hit the western world.
Closer to the end of the chapter Briony, as a narrator, appears to finally
realize her mother’s lack of involvement and frustration. “How like her, to sit in
a room like this, not joining in” that is the outcry of a child whose mother has
just failed to be a good mother. McEwan draws an image of Emily as a witness,
a side watcher of the family affairs that are happening around, and she isn’t
going to “join in”. And the author leaves Emily in total confusion: she can’t take
it any more to but still she can’t or just simply doesn’t want to adjust to the new
coming trend of independent and self-confident women.
(http://www.gradesaver.com/atonement/)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Do you agree with the viewpoint expressed in the extract?
2. Why do you think Emily is in confusion?
3. What role does Emily’s character play in the novel?
4. Can we say that Emily is presented as a mistress of the house and the
mother of the family in the novel?
This chapter also contains an image of weather that appeared in previous
chapters as well. Study the extract from David Lodge’s book “The Art of
Fiction” and complete the tasks.
Weather
London. Michaelmas term lately over and the Lord Chancellor sitting in
Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets,
as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not
be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an
elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots,
making a soft black drizzle with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown
snowflakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.
Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very
blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas, in a general infection
of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of
thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day
broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of
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mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at
compound interest.
CHARLES DICKENS Bleak House (1853)
[…] Dickens hits us over the head with it in the famous opening paragraph of
Bleak House. "Implacable November weather." The personification of the
weather as "implacable" is a commonplace colloquialism, but here it carries
suggestions of divine displeasure, being in close conjunction with allusions to
the Old Testament. "As if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the
earth," echoes both the description of the Creation in Genesis and the story of
the Flood. These Biblical allusions are mixed up in a very Victorian way with a
more modern, post-Darwinian cosmology in the references to the Megalosaurus
and the running down of the solar system from entropy. The total effect is a
startling feat of defamiliarization.
On one level this is a realistic picture of nineteenth-century London streets in
bad weather, a montage of typical details quite simply and literally described:
smoke lowering down from chimney-pots . . . dogs undistinguishable in mire
. . . horses splashed to their very blinkers . . . jostling umbrellas. But Dickens's
metaphoric imagination transforms this commonplace scene into an apocalyptic
vision of the proud capital of the British Empire reverting to primitive swamp,
or anticipating the final extinction of all life on earth. The metaphorical double
somersault from soot flake, to snowflake in mourning, to the death of the sun, is
particularly stunning.
It is a scenario of a kind we meet later in science fiction (the vision of the
Megalosaurus waddling up Holborn Hill anticipates King Kong scaling the
Empire State Building, the "death of the sun" the chilling finale of H. G. Wells's
The Time Machine) and in postmodernist prophets of doom like Martin Amis. It
sets up for denunciation the idea of a society that has denatured itself by greed
and corruption, which Dickens is about to examine in his many-stranded plot
centering on a disputed estate. Wittily, the mud accumulates at compound
interest here in the City of London, reminding us of the Biblical condemnation
of money as filthy lucre. The Lord Chancellor described at the beginning of the
passage (in a series of terse statements like headlines from "News at Ten")
presiding over the court of Chancery, seems also to preside over the weather,
and the equation is clinched some paragraphs later: "Never can there come fog
too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the
groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most
pestilent of hoary sinners, holds, this day, in the sight of heaven and earth.
(Lodge, David , The Art of Fiction, 1992)
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Review Questions and Tasks
1.
How did Charles Dickens employ the weather image in his novels?
2.
What is the effect produced?
3.
How is the weather image worked out in science fiction and
postmodernist novels? Provide the examples.
4.
Match the words taken from the text with their definitions below.
1. waddle
2. lizard
3. mire
4. jostle
5. crust
6. tenaciously
7. implacable
8. denunciation
9. condemnation
10. lucre
11. preside
12. grope
13. flounder
14. pestilent
a. walk with short steps and a clumsy
swaying motion
b. the expression of very strong
disapproval; censure
c. unable to be appeased or placated
d. be in charge of (a place or situation)
e. struggle or stagger clumsily in mud
or water
f. destructive to life ; deadly
g. move along uncertainly by feeling
objects as one goes
h. money, especially when regarded as
sordid or distasteful or gained in a
dishonourable way
i. public condemnation of someone or
something
j. a stretch of swampy or boggy ground\
a complicated or unpleasant situation
from which it is difficult to extricate
oneself
k. tending to keep a firm hold of
something; clinging or adhering closely
l. a reptile that typically has a long
body and tail
m. push
n. the tough outer part of a loaf of bread
he tough outer part of a loaf of bread\ a
living or livelihood
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CHAPTER 13
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
reticence
reluctant
to subside
tramp
brutality
to disembody
to giggle
assumption
a. unwilling
b. cruelty
c. the act of acceptance of
something| arrogance | supposition
d. to laugh nervously
e. vagabond
f. to free, to release
g. to cease | to fade
h. restraint
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To condolence, meek, qualms, awestruck, discernible, zeal, to stumble.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1. To ASSAULT – To A _ _ _ _ _
2. DECENT – A _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _E | M _ _ _ _ T | N _ _ _
3. To BANISH – To E _ _ _ _
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- short or ling; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
How did Briony behave during the search for children?
What was Briony thinking of?
What kind of maniac did Briony imagine to herself?
What was the accident with Lola about? (p.164-166)
Describe and comment on the episode when Briony finds Lola.
What was the plan Briony decided to fulfill?
How can we characterize her at that moment?
What was Briony feeling and thinking?
What did Briony eventually do?
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10. Did Briony have any doubts or ideas of possible consequences of her
deed?
11. Comment on Briony’s last words closing the chapter “I can. I will”.
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- actives or passives? Dynamic or stative erbs?in/transitives?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the participants:
- passive subjects or active agents?
- affected or affecting?
“And so their respective positions, which were to find public expression in the
weeks and months to come, and then be pursued as demons in private for many
years afterward, were established in these moments by the lake, with Briony’s
certainty rising whenever her cousin appeared to doubt herself. Nothing much
was ever required of Lola after that, for she was able to retreat behind an air of
wounded confusion, and as treasured patient, recovering victim, lost child, let
herself be bathed in the concern and guilt of the adults in her life. How could we
have let this happen to a child? Lola could not, and did not need to help them.
Briony offered her a chance and she seized it instinctively; less than that—she
simply let it settle over her. She had little more to do than remain silent behind
her cousin’s zeal. Lola did not need to lie, to look her supposed attacker in the
eye and summon the courage to accuse him, because all that work was done for
her, innocently, and without guile by the younger girl. Lola was required only to
remain silent about the truth, banish it and forget it entirely, and persuade
herself not of some contrary tale, but simply of her own uncertainty. She
couldn’t see, his hand was over her eyes, she was terrified, she couldn’t say for
sure”(AT, p.167.)
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
“Briony was there to help her at every stage. As far as she was concerned,
everything fitted; the terrible present fulfilled the recent past. Events she herself
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witnessed foretold her cousin’s calamity. If only she, Briony, had been less
innocent, less stupid. Now she saw, the affair was too consistent, too
symmetrical to be anything other than what she said it was. She blamed herself
for her childish assumption that Robbie would limit his attentions to Cecilia.
What was she thinking of? He was a maniac after all. Anyone would do. And he
was bound to go for the most vulnerable—a spindly girl, stumbling about in the
dark in an unfamiliar place, bravely searching around the island temple for her
brothers. Just as Briony herself had been about to do. That his victim could
easily have been her increased Briony’s outrage and fervor. If her poor cousin
was not able to command the truth, then she would do it for her. I can. And I
will”(AT, p.168).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
In this chapter McEwan resorts to literary allusion representing Briony’s
image. He refers to William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Study the following extract and answer the questions.
Allusion
Allusion is a device that authors use when they make a passing reference to
among other things art, religion, myth, literature, music, and history. Allusions
are never directly explained since the reader is presumed to be familiar with the
object of the allusion. Writers frequently use allusions to make implied
connections or contrasts. For example, if a writer refers to an action as “crossing
the Rubicon,” informed readers will understand that it means taking an action
from which there is no return, just as Julius Caesar launched a civil war when he
crossed the Rubicon River in 49 b.c.
In “Disappearing” by Monica Wood when the narrator says to her husband,
“You’re no Cary Grant”, the assumption is that the reader will know that Cary
Grant is an actor who personifies exceptional good looks that are in distinct
contrast to the husband’s very plain appearance.
(Sybil, Marcus, A World of Fiction, 2006)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
What is allusion?
Why do authors use allusions?
What effect do allusions contribute to?
Analyze the example of allusion taken from Monica Wood’s story.
Provide examples of allusion.
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The division of the text plays a very important role in its organization and
contributes to its message. Study the following article from David Lodge’s
book “The Art of Fiction” and complete the tasks.
Chapters
CHAPTER TWO
I grow up - Am hated by my relations - Sent to School -Neglected by my
Grandfather - Maltreated by my Master -Seasoned to Adversity -1 form Cabals
against the Pedant - Am debarred access to my Grandfather - Hunted by his Heir
- I demolish the Teeth of his Tutor.
TOBIAS SMOLLETT The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748)
CHAPTER X
Is it not a shame to make two chapters of what passed in going down one pair
of stairs? for we are got no farther yet than to the first landing, and there are
fifteen more steps down to the bottom; and for aught I know, as my father and
my uncle Toby are in a talking humour, there may be as many chapters as steps:
- let that be as it will, Sir, I can no more help it than my destiny - A sudden
impulse comes across me - drop the curtain, Shandy -1 drop it - Strike a line
here across the paper, Tristram -1 strike it - and hey for a new chapter.
The deuce of any other rule have I to govern myself by in this affair - and if I
had one - as I do all things out of all rule - I would twist it and tear it to pieces,
and throw it into the fire when I had done - Am I warm? I am, and the cause
demands it - a pretty story! is a man to follow rules - or rules to follow him?
LAURENCE STERNE The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.
(1759-67)
WE TEND to take the division of novels into chapters for granted, as if it were
as natural and inevitable as the division of the discourse into sentences and
paragraphs. But of course it is not. The novels of Daniel Defoe, for instance,
among the earliest English examples of the form, are continuous, uninterrupted
streams of discourse. As usual with Defoe, it is hard to know whether this is a
symptom of his own lack of literary sophistication, or a cunning imitation of
naive, unprofessional narrators, pouring out their life-histories onto the page
without a preconceived plan or structure. Whatever the reason, it makes for a
somewhat tiring reading experience, and a rather confused impression of the
story being told (it is hard, for instance, to keep track of Moll Flanders's many
journeys, partners and children, and difficult to refer back in the text to check up
on them).
Breaking up a long text into smaller units has several possible effects. It gives
the narrative, and the reader, time to take breath, as it were, in the intervening
pauses. For this reason chapter breaks are useful for marking transitions between
different times or places in the action. I have already noted, earlier, how
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Thackeray uses the concluding line of a chapter like the curtain line of a play, to
heighten an effect of surprise and suspense. E. M. Forster does something very
similar in the passage quoted from Howards End. Beginning a new chapter can
also have a useful expressive or rhetorical effect, especially if it has a textual
heading, in the form of a tide, quotation or summary of contents. Smollett's
chapter-headings, for instance, are like film trailers, enticing the reader with the
promise of exciting action. In a sense they "give away" the development of the
story in advance, but not in sufficient detail to kill our interest in it. These
chapter-headings certainly convey the flavour of his fiction - racy, fast-moving
and violent.
It is generally true to say that the more realistic a novelist is trying to be, the
less likely he or she is to draw attention to this aspect of a novel's textual
organization. Conversely, it is flaunted by self-consciously literary novelists.
The very mention of the word "chapter" draws attention to the novel's
compositional processes. We have already seen how Laurence Sterne uses such
a reference to bring the idea of a narratee into play, having Tristram reproach his
lady reader for being "so inattentive in reading the last chapter". The quotation
above is from Volume IV of Tristram Shandy, where the narrator is describing a
conversation between his father and his Uncle Toby that took place on the day
of his birth. In a more conventional novel, such a dialogue would not be broken
up by chapter divisions, but Sterne typically makes the loquacity of his
characters an excuse for defying the normal "rules" of composition, and starts a
new chapter just because he feels like it. In fact this turns out to be "my chapter
upon chapters, which I promised to write before I went to sleep." He
summarizes the received wisdom on the subject, "that chapters relieve the mind
- that they assist - or impose upon the imagination - and that in a work of this
dramatic cast they are as necessary as the shifting of scenes," only to dismiss
these statements as "cold conceits". He recommends the reader to study
Longinus. "If you are not a jot the wiser by reading him the first time over never fear — read him again." Like so much of Tristram Shandy, the chapter on
chapters is an elaborate but instructive spoof.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Read and analyze the extracts. What is the subject matter of each of them?
Why do we tend to take the division of novels for granted?
How can we divide the text?
What are the possible effects of the division of a text into chapters?
What is peculiar about text organization in Laurence Sterne’s novels?
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CHAPTER 14
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalent.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
to caress
fatigue
squalor
chivalrous
vexation
to shepherd
to merge
clamorous
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
exhaustion
noisy
to devour | to unite
to look after | to accompany
annoyance
courteous
misery, poverty
to stroke gently
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Submissive, plight, to agitate, cabal, handcuff, to damn, to vouch, to jostle.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
VILE – M _ _ _
LAMENT – W _ _ _ | C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ T
CALAMITY – D _ _ _ _ _ _ R
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
common and everyday, or from a specific area of use ( religion,
technology, etc.)?
Understanding the Plot
1. Describe Briony’s behavior. What role was she playing? (p.173-189)
2. How was Briony acting during the talk to police?
3. How did Briony manage to cope with the tension?
4. What was Cecilia’s reaction? (p.175)
5. How did Paul Marshall behave? (p.175-176)
6. Describe Cecilia’s room.
7. What was the atmosphere during all the proceedings like?
8. What was the talk between Cecilia and Robbie about?
9. How was the letter reading episode perceived by the guests? By Cecilia?
10. What was the reaction of Jack Tallis?
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11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
What was the importance of Lola’s image in this chapter?
Can we treat Lola as Briony’s accomplice?
Who was found guilty?
What was Briony’s version of the crime?
What was Briony feeling about it?
How were the children found?
Did the family change their attitude to Robbie?
How did Briony behave after all? (p.183)
What was Briony feeling?
How significant was the episode when Robbie was taken to prison?
How important was the image of Robbie’s mother in that episode?
How was Robbie’s mother behaving?
What words was Robbie’s mother screaming?
How can we explain these words (p.186)?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speech moves, turns and exchanges with specific structures?
- repetitions of words, or parallelisms of phrase and sentence structure?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- material and dynamic ( concerned with “doing” and “happening”) or
rational and “state-like” ( concerned with “being” and “having”)?
How far are the circumstances to do with:
- intensification or qualification – “very’, “extremely’ etc. as opposed to
“slightly’,’ a little’ etc.
“An hour later she was lying on her canopy bed in the clean white cotton
nightdress which Betty had found for her. The curtains were drawn, but the
daylight gleam around their edges was strong, and for all her spinning
sensations of tiredness, she could not sleep. Voices and images were ranged
around her bedside, agitated, nagging presences, jostling and merging, resisting
her attempts to set them in order. Were they all really bounded by a single day,
by one period of unbroken wakefulness, from the innocent rehearsals of her play
to the emergence of the giant from the mist? All that lay between was too
clamorous, too fluid to understand, though she sensed she had succeeded, even
triumphed. She kicked the sheet clear of her legs and turned the pillow to find a
cooler patch for her cheeks. In her dizzy state she was not able to say exactly
what her success had been; if it was to have gained a new maturity, she could
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hardly feel it now when she was so helpless, so childish even, through lack of
sleep, to the point where she thought she could easily make herself cry. If it was
brave to have identified a thoroughly bad person, then it was wrong of him to
turn up with the twins like that, and she felt cheated. Who would believe her
now, with Robbie posing as the kindly rescuer of lost children? All her work, all
her courage and clearheadedness, all she had done to bring Lola home—for
nothing. They would turn their backs on her, her mother, the policemen, her
brother, and go off with Robbie Turner to indulge some adult cabal. She wanted
her mother, she wanted to put her arms round her mother’s neck and pull her
lovely face close to hers, but her mother wouldn’t come now, no one would come
to Briony, no one would talk to her now. She turned her face into the pillow and
let her tears drain into it, and felt that yet more was lost, when there was no
witness to her sorrow” ( AT, p.183-184).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
Part one ends with the tragedy of the night invoking love for Cecilia and an
assumption that the events of the evening will forever bring the sisters
closer, but which is only in Briony’s mind. For the rest of her life she will be
detached and isolated. Read the extract from the review by Claire Messud
and answer the questions.
[…] “Atonement, like all McEwan's novels, is suspenseful, and it would not
do to reveal all the events that unfold in this single summer evening before the
war. What can be said is that Briony—awaiting the arrival of her brother, Leon,
and his friend Paul Marshall while suffering the presence of her cousins Lola,
Jackson, and Pierrot Quincey—witnesses a curious scene in the garden between
her elder sister, Cecilia, just down from Cambridge, and a young man named
Robbie Turner, a servant's son and a protégé of Tallis père who has grown up
alongside the Tallis children. Cecilia is carrying flowers in a vase, over which
the pair tussles, and then Cecilia strips to her underwear and plunges into the
garden's fountain while Robbie looks on. Briony is old enough to recognize the
complexity of what she witnesses but perhaps not old enough to see that it is a
matter of reality, not of story.
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 the other minds were equally alive.
And yet by her very construction of events Briony passes judgment,
determines "good" and "bad": as the evening unfolds, her interpretation of each
action and interaction around her is shaped by her understanding of what she has
seen, and although she believes absolutely in the inevitability of the story she
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constructs, we can see that it is partial, in both senses of the word. Needless to
say, the story Briony tells has terrible consequences.” […]
(Messud, Clare, ‘The beauty of the Conjuring’, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
2.
3.
Does the author of the review condemn Briony’s actions?
Is there any point that we can find to explain Briony’s behavior?
McEwan continues the tradition of telling about the tricky twist of reality
and fantasy. In this connection Claire Messud makes several references to
McEwans’s previous works; why does she refer to them? How is the theme
of reality-fantasy twist implemented in these novels? Is it different from the
way it is expressed in Atonement? Give other examples of the novels
involving such a shift.
[…] “This is, of course, vintage McEwan: the struggle between the internal life,
so much more vivid than the lives outside it, and the unbending force of reality
is a theme he has long explored. He has frequently led us into the fantasy worlds
of the unsavory, from the haunting narrator of the early story Butterflies; to the
menacingly nerdy Leonard Marnham, of The Innocent, whose fantasies of
violence against his girlfriend, Maria, are so powerful that he comes to believe
she must share them; to the stalker Jed Parry, of Enduring Love, and his effects
on the psyche of Joe Rose. For McEwan, the internal life may be a form of
ideology as well as fantasy, a framework through which his characters construe
and misconstrue the world. In Black Dogs, June Tremaine's spiritual
interpretation of her attack by a pair of slavering beasts on an isolated path in
France in 1946 leads her to separate from her husband, Bernard, whose
rationalist view guides him to politics.
But Briony is a storyteller, and in this she differs from her predecessors: she
undertakes to shape and describe the world around her with, significantly, a
pretense of objectivity. In so doing, however, she confuses imagination and
reality as forcefully as do Leonard Marnham and the narrator of Butterflies.
When her nine-year-old twin cousins, Jackson and Pierrot, go missing, Briony
embarks on a search, and imagines them drowned in the swimming pool.
It made sense, surely, to see if the twins were there, fooling about with the
hoses, or floating face-down, indistinguishable at last in death. She thought how
she might describe it, the way they bobbed on the illuminated water's gentle
swell, and how their hair spread like tendrils and their clothed bodies softly
collided and drifted apart. The dry night air slipped between the fabric of her
dress and her skin, and she felt smooth and agile in the dark. There was nothing
she could not describe.
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Suddenly Briony's powers of description are McEwan's; the twins have not
drowned; and yet Briony has drowned them. Of what else might she be capable?
The glorious prose is revealed to be the ultimate peril. ” […]
(Messud, Clare, ‘The beauty of the Conjuring’, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Check up the words in the box and use them in the sentences of your own:
Unbend, haunt, menacing, nerdy, construe, bob, agile.
The division of the text plays a very important role in its organization and
contributes to its message. Study one more extract from David Lodge’s book
“The Art of Fiction” and complete the tasks.
CHAPTER VIII
Arthur's Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall ne'er be press'd by me;
St Anton's well shall be my drink, Sin' my true-love's forsaken me.
SIR WALTER SCOTT
Old Song
The Heart of Midlothian (1818)
CHAPTER I
Since I can do no good because a woman,
Reach constantly at something that is near it.
The Maid's Tragedy: BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER
GEORGE ELLIOT Middlemarch (1871-2)
*
... She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his
arms. He would save her.
*
She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held
her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the
passage over and over again.
JAMES JOYCE "Eveline" (1914)
[…] Sir Walter Scott started a vogue for using quotations as epigraphs for
chapters - a kind of overt intertextuality. Usually these quotations were culled
from old ballads, of which he was a keen collector. They have several functions.
One is thematic. The lines from "Old Song" at the head of Chapter VIII of The
Heart of Midlothian, for instance, are relevant to one of the main components of
the plot: Effie Deans, sister to the heroine Jeannie Deans, is accused of
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murdering the child she bore out of wedlock. The verse from "Old Song"
connects her plight to the long narrative tradition of young women seduced and
deserted by their lovers. The reference to "Arthur's Seat" (a hill overlooking
Edinburgh) and St Anton's well ties this motif to a particular regional setting, the
evocation of which was one of Scott's principal preoccupations, and a major
source of his appeal to contemporary readers. The cumulative effect of these
quotations from old songs and ballads is to establish the credentials of the
authorial narrator as a well-informed and reliable guide to Scottish history,
culture and topography.
Kipling carried this practice of composing apocryphal sources for epigraphs
to an extreme. "Mrs. Bathurst", which I discussed earlier, is prefaced by a long
extract from an "old play", written by Kipling himself in a pastiche of
seventeenth-century dramatic prose, describing the death of a groom or clown at
some royal court. Though fiendishly difficult to construe, it contains important
clues to the meaning of the story. "She that damned him to death knew not that
she did it, or would have died here she had done it. For she loved him," seems,
for instance, to rule out theories that the second corpse found beside Vickery's
was that of Mrs. Bathurst.
"Mrs. Bathurst" doesn't have any chapters, of course. Short stories rarely do;
though they sometimes have pauses or breaks in the text marked by a line space.
James Joyce's "Eveline", for instance, consists mainly of a description of the
principal character's thoughts as she sits at the window of her home, just before
a planned elopement with her sailor lover. Then there is a break in the text
marked by an asterisk, and the next section begins: "She stood among the
swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall." The break in the text moves the
action from the home to its climax on the dockside without describing how
Eveline got there, which would be irrelevant to the story.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What trend was introduced by Walter Scott? What were its functions?
2. How did Kipling develop the text organization?
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PART TWO: p. 191–202
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
a.
hint
b.
sick | repulsive
c.
to rattle | to speak loudly
d.
a slow-witted person
e.
to tantalize
f.
a dead body
g.
a rich, well-dressed, or upperclass person, esp. a man
toff
innuendo
dolt
morbid
to taunt
to rumble
corpse
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
To scatter, the toffs, poplar, to squirt.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
BONKERS – M _ _
IGNOMINY – D _ _ _ _ _ _ E
BRUTE – B _ _ _ _
9 Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words there:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- literal or figurative; particular or general?
Understanding the Plot
1. What is the place of action?
2. What is the time of action?
3. By what means is the place of action presented by the author?
4. Comment on the description of the battlefield.
5. How did the author change the image of Robbie?
6. What were the relations between Robbie and his fellow soldiers?
7. Did the fellow soldiers respect Robbie?
8. What kind of people were the soldiers?
9. What was the soldiers’ route?
10. What is the importance of the episode in the barn?
11. How did the soldiers manage to get to the barn?
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12. What was the reaction of the owners?
13. Describe the brothers.
Translating the Extracts
9
Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- long or short sentences – and how many words on average?
There were horrors enough, but it was the unexpected detail that threw him and
afterward would not let him go. When they reached the level crossing, after
a three-mile walk along a narrow road, he saw the path he was looking for
meandering off to the right, then dipping and rising toward a copse that covered
a low hill to the northwest. They stopped so that he could consult the map. But it
wasn’t where he thought it should be. It wasn’t in his pocket, or tucked into his
belt. Had he dropped it, or put it down at the last stop? He let his greatcoat fall
on the ground and was reaching inside his jacket when he realized. The map
was in his left hand and must have been there for over an hour. He glanced
across at the other two but they were facing away from him, standing apart,
smoking silently. It was still in his hand. He had prized it from the fingers of a
captain in the West Kent lying in a ditch outside—outside where? These reararea maps were rare. He also took the dead captain’s revolver. He wasn’t trying
to impersonate an officer. He had lost his rifle and simply intended to survive”
(AT, p.192).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
Part two opens with a significant change of time and place. Study the article
by David Lodge devoted to time-shift technique and complete the questions.
THE SIMPLEST WAY to tell a story, equally favoured by tribal bards and parents
at bedtime, is to begin at the beginning, and go on until you reach the end, or
your audience falls asleep. But even in antiquity, storytellers perceived the
interesting effects that could be obtained by deviating from chronological order.
The classical epic began in medias res, in the midst of the story. For example,
the narrative of the Odyssey begins halfway through the hero's hazardous voyage
home from the Trojan War; loops back to describe his earlier adventures, then
follows the story to its conclusion in Ithaca.
Through time-shift, narrative avoids presenting life as just one damn thing
after another, and allows us to make connections of causality and irony between
widely separated events. A shift of narrative focus back in time may change our
interpretation of something which happened much later in the chronology of the
story, but which we have already experienced as readers of the text. This is a
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familiar device of cinema, the flashback. Film has more difficulty in
accommodating the effect of "flashforward" - the anticipatory glimpse of what is
going to happen in the future of the narrative, known to classical rhetoricians as
"prolepsis". This is because such information implies the existence of a narrator
who knows the whole story, and films do not normally have narrators.
Time-shift is a very common effect in modern fiction, but usually it is
"naturalized" as the operation of memory, either in the representation of a
character's stream of consciousness (Molly Bloom's interior monologue is
constantly shifting from one phase of her life to another, like a gramophone
pickup skating backwards and forwards between tracks on an LP disc) or, more
formally, as the memoir or reminiscence of a character-narrator (for instance,
Dowell in Ford's The Good Soldier). Graham Greene's The End of the Affair
(1951) is a virtuoso performance of this latter type. The narrator is a professional
writer, Bendrix, who at the beginning of his narrative meets Henry, the husband
of Sarah, with whom Bendrix had affair years before, which Sarah broke off
abrupdy. Bendrix, who presumed that she had found another lover, is still bitter
and jealous, and, when Henry confides his own suspicions of Sarah's infidelity,
Bendrix perversely hires a detective to discover her secret. What the detective
discovers is a journal kept by Sarah, which describes the affair with Bendrix
from her point of view, revealing a completely unexpected motive for her
breaking it off, and an unsuspected religious conversion. These developments
are the more plausible and dramatic for being narrated out of their proper
chronological place.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is the traditional way of telling a story?
2. How does the time-shift technique work?
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PART TWO: p. 203–214
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
to throb
to incarcerate
query
stillborn
sanity
to squawk
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
to imprison
question
state of being sane
dead at birth
to squall | to complain
to beat
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Catechism, dizzy, straggler, haze.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
To SNARL – To G _ _ _ _ _ E
To SQUEEZE – To C _ _ _ _ _ _ S
9
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
short or long; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
heavily adjectival and adverbial, or relatively unmodified nouns and
verbs?
Understanding the Plot
1. What was Robbie feeling and thinking about being at war?
2. How did Robbie and Cecilia keep in touch?
3. What was the significance of their letters?
4. What were the letters mainly about?
5. How did Robbie manage to get through prison?
6. What was Robbie’s life like after being released from prison?
7. What was the vanished life Robbie was thinking about?
8. How did Cecilia and Robbie live before the war?
9. Were Robbie and Cecilia happy?
10. What were Cecilia’s relations with her family?
11. How did Cecilia explain her decision?
12. Did Robbie approve Cecilia’s actions?
13. What was written in the letter from Briony?
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14. What details and news did we get from the letter?
15. What was the main reason for Robbie to stay alive during the war?
16. Where did Robbie keep Cecilia’s letters?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- familiar collocations (recognizable word-clusters) – or is much of it
strikingly new?
- speeches – quoted directly or inderictly, freely or precisely?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the circumstances to do with:
- intensification or qualification?
“When she entered the cafe, wearing her nurse’s cape, startling him from a
pleasant daze, he stood too quickly and knocked his tea. He was conscious of the
oversized suit his mother had saved for. The jacket did not seem to touch his
shoulders at any point. They sat down, looked at each other, smiled and looked
away. Robbie and Cecilia had been making love for years—by post. In their
coded exchanges they had drawn close, but how artificial that closeness seemed
now as they embarked on their small talk, their helpless catechism of polite
query and response. As the distance opened up between them, they understood
how far they had run ahead of themselves in their letters. This moment had been
imagined and desired for too long, and could not measure up. He had been out
of the world, and lacked the confidence to step back and reach for the larger
thought. I love you, and you saved my life. He asked about her lodgings. She
told him” (AT,p.205).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- familiar collocations (recognizable word-clusters) – or is much of it
strikingly new?
- speech moves, turns and exchanges with specific structures?
- long or short sentences – and how many words on average?
- predominantly common nouns, proper nouns or personal pronouns?
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
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“She wrote in reply, “They turned on you, all of them, even my father. When
they wrecked your life they wrecked mine. They chose to believe the evidence of
a silly, hysterical little girl. In fact, they encouraged her by giving her no room
to turn back. She was a young thirteen, I know, but I never want to speak to her
again. As for the rest of them, I can never forgive what they did. Now that I’ve
broken away, I’m beginning to understand the snobbery that lay behind their
stupidity. My mother never forgave you your first. My father preferred to lose
himself in his work. Leon turned out to be a grinning, spineless idiot who went
along with everyone else. When Hardman decided to cover for Danny, no one in
my family wanted the police to ask him the obvious questions. The police had
you to prosecute. They didn’t want their case messed up. I know I sound bitter,
but my darling, I don’t want to be. I’m honestly happy with my new life and my
new friends. I feel I can breathe now. Most of all, I have you to live for.
Realistically, there had to be a choice—you or them. How could it be both? I’ve
never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my
dearest one, my reason for life. Cee” (AT,p.209).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
In part two McEwan resorts to epistolary genre to introduce the theme of the
relationships between Cecilia and Robbie. Study the article from David
Lodge’s collection devoted to the term of epistolary novel and complete the
tasks.
What I can't bear is that for one moment she recognized my claims,
acknowledged my rights. What makes me want to hammer my fist on the table
. . . Phone. Ringing. Hold on.
No. Just some student having a breakdown. Yes, what makes me want to
howl at the moon is the thought of her scratching away down there in London as
if nothing had happened. I'd just like to know that she had lifted her head from
her imaginary world for one moment, and said . . .
Another thought has just occurred to me, though. She may not be scratching
away as if nothing had happened. She may be putting down some version of the
events in the guest room. One of her maddeningly percipient, odd, crabwise
heroines may be scuttering bizarrely sideways at the sight of some bumptious
young academic's aubergine underpants. No need for one of your looks, thank
you - I have managed to grasp the irony of this unprompted. It's different,
though - she's not writing privately to a friend of hers in some comfortingly
remote country. She's writing to friends of mine. And enemies of mine. And
colleagues of mine. And students of mine . . .
What? Are my underpants aubergine? Of course they're not aubergine! Don't
you know anything about my taste at all? But she may be saying they're
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aubergine! That's what they do, these people. They embroider, they improve on
the truth - they tell lies.
MICHAEL FRAYN The Trick of It (1989)
NOVELS WRITTEN in the form of letters were hugely popular in the eighteenth
century. Samuel Richardson's long, moralistic and psychologically acute
epistolary novels of seduction, Pamela (1741) and Clarissa (1747), were
landmarks in the history of European fiction, inspiring many imitators such as
Rousseau (La Nouvelle Heloise) and Laclos (Les Liaisons dangereuses). Jane
Austen's first draft of Sense and Sensibility was in letter form, but her second
thoughts were prophetic of the decline of the epistolary novel in the nineteenth
century. In the age of the telephone it became a very rare species indeed, though,
as Michael Frayn's The Trick of It recently demonstrated, not altogether extinct,
and well worth preserving.
The invention of the fax machine may provoke a revival of the form (the title
story of Andrew Davies's Dirty Faxes, 1990, being perhaps a straw in the wind)
but, generally speaking, the modern epistolary novelist is obliged to separate his
correspondents by some considerable distance to make the convention seem
plausible. Frayn's hero, or antihero, is a nameless thirtysomething British
academic specializing in the work of a contemporary woman novelist of slightly
more mature years, referred to in the text by her initials, JL. He invites her to
speak at his University and, much to his surprise, is invited afterwards into her
guestroom bed. This event, and the sequel, he describes in a series of letters to
an academic friend based in Australia.
The epistolary novel is a type of first-person narrative, but it has certain
special features not found in the more familiar autobiographical mode. Whereas
the story of an autobiography is known to the narrator before he starts, letters
chronicle an ongoing process; or as Richardson put it: "Much more lively
and affecting . . . must be the style of those who write in the height of a present
distress, the mind tortured by the pangs of uncertainty... than the dry,
narrative unanimated style of a person relating difficulties and danger
surmounted can be ..."
The same effect can of course be obtained by using the form of a journal, but
the epistolary novel has two additional advantages. Firstly, you can have more
than one correspondent, and thus show the same event from different points of
view, with quite different interpretations, as Richardson brilliantly demonstrated
in Clarissa. (For example, Clarissa writes to her friend Miss Howe about an
interview with Lovelace in which he seemed to be showing a genuine
disposition to renounce his licentious past; Lovelace reports the same
conversation to his friend Belford as a stage in his cunning plot to seduce her.)
Secondly, even if you limit yourself, as Frayn does, to one writer, a letter, unlike
a journal, is always addressed to a specific addressee, whose anticipated
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response conditions the discourse, and makes it rhetorically more complex,
interesting and obliquely revealing.
Frayn exploits this latter opportunity to particularly good effect. His academic
is a comically flawed character, full of vanity, anxiety and paranoia, which he
constantly betrays by anticipating or imagining his Australian friend's reactions
("No need for one of your looks, thank you ...").
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1.
Read the extract from Michael Frayn’s novel and define the subject
matter of the text.
2.
What epistolary novels are supposed to be landmarks of English fiction?
3.
Name other authors who turned to such a genre.
4.
What is the significance of Andrew Davies’s story?
5.
Define the distinctive features of an epistolary novel.
6.
Check up the meanings of the words in the box and use them in the
sentences of your own:
Hammer, breakdown, scratch, maddeningly, percipient, crabwise, bizarre,
aubergine, bumptious, embroider, landmark, prophetic, plausible, exploit,
flaw.
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PART TWO: p. 214–265
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
a. to scatter
b. tedious
c. to grasp
d. fight
e. dangerous | spiteful
f. enmity
g. massacre
h. irritation | complaint
i. to gasp
j. law
k. killing
l. crowd
m. to break
n. to drag
1. rupture
2. to haul
3. to pant
4. dispatch
5. enactment
6. mob
7. peeve
8. humdrum
9. malign
10. tussle
11. to snatch
12. rancor
13. to disperse
14. slaughter
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Nun, to wrench, to cower, pretence, decisive, disposal, hindmost, swagger,
catcall.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
TRUDGE – S _ _ _
To JEER – To T _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
PRIM – P _ _ _ _ _ _
To SUMMON – to C _ _ _
NURTURE – U_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
9 Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- common and everyday, or from a specific area of use ( religion, technology,
etc.)?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
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Understanding the Plot
1. Comment on the track procession ( p.216-220).
2. What was Robbie thinking about? (p. 226).
3. What were Robbie’s future plans?
4. Describe the episode Robbie was recollecting (p.229). Why is it important
for him?
5. Comment on this scene (p.229-230) shown through Briony’s eyes; through
Robbie’s.
6. Describe the bombing episode (p.236).
7. What were Robbie’s thoughts and ideas about his father? (p. 241)
8. How did Robbie and his fellow soldiers manage to cross the bridge?
9. What did Robbie and his fellow soldiers finally see when they reached the
beach?
10. Describe the episode in the bar.
11. How did Robbie and his fellow soldiers manage to find water?
12. What was Robbie thinking about while hiding in the shelter? (p.260-261)
13. What were Robbie’s thoughts before he fell asleep? (p.264-265)
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- material and dynamic ( concerned with “doing” and “happening”) or
rational and “state-like” ( concerned with “being” and “having”)?
- active or passive ?
How far are the circumstances to do with:
- quality or quantity- ‘how good or bad’ as distinct form from ‘how many or
how much’?
- intensification or qualification?
- time or place?
«How to begin to understand this child’s mind? Only one theory held up. There
was a day in June 1932, all the more beautiful for coming suddenly, after a long
spell of rain and wind. It was one of those rare mornings which declares itself,
with a boastful extravagance of warmth and light and new leaves, as the true
beginning, the grand portal to summer, and he was walking through it with
Briony, past the Triton pond, down beyond the ha-ha and rhododendrons,
through the iron kissing gate and onto the winding narrow woodland path. She
was excited and talkative. She would have been about ten years old, just starting
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to write her little stories. Along with everyone else, he had received his own
bound and illustrated tale of love, adversities overcome, reunion and a wedding.
They were on their way down to the river for the swimming lesson he had
promised her. As they left the house behind she may have been telling him about
a story she had just finished or a book she was reading. She may have been
holding his hand. She was a quiet, intense little girl, rather prim in her way, and
this outpouring was unusual. He was happy to listen. These were exciting times
for him too. He was nineteen, exams were almost over and he thought he’d done
well. Soon he would cease to be a schoolboy. He had interviewed well at
Cambridge and in two weeks he was leaving for France where he was to teach
English at a religious school. There was a grandeur about the day, about the
colossal, barely stirring beeches and oaks, and the light that dropped like jewels
through the fresh foliage to make pools among last year’s dead leaves. This
magnificence, he sensed in his youthful self-importance, reflected the glorious
momentum of his life» (AT, p. 229).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
- explicit or implicit markers of textual cohesion and perpetual
coherence?
DEFINITION:
Cohesion is the formal, linguistic means that texts have for showing that
they have structure beyond that of the clause. Cohesive devices include
pronouns, repetition, ellipsis (missing things out), coordination,
subordination.
Because (1) it was raining, I picked up my (2) coat and (3) out it (4) on.
I (5) went to the door and (3) after (6) I (5) opened it (4) (7) went
outside.
1 Subordinating conjunction- links two clauses by cause and effect;
2 Varied reference to first (I -my) – links by shared referent;
3 Coordinating conjunction – links two clauses;
4 Pronoun replacement- links by shared reference to previously
mentioned noun phrase;
5 Repetition of pronoun – links by shared referent;
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6 Subordinating conjunction – links two clauses by time event;
7 ellipted pronoun (I) – links by shared reference to previously
mentioned noun phrase.
The coherence of the above passage lies in less formal links, such as the
logical connections between rain and coat-wearing, doors and opening them.
The passage also coheres in that it conforms to our notions of what a firstperson narrative should be like: tense is consistent, and the series of actions
presented is both logical in terms of cause and effect (rain-coat-wearing –
going outside) and temporal order.
(Pope, Rob, Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies
for Literary Studies, 2001)
“This theory, or conviction, rested on the memory of a single encounter—the
meeting at dusk on the bridge. For years he had dwelled on that walk across the
park. She would have known he was invited to dinner. There she was, barefoot,
in a dirty white frock. That was strange enough. She would have been waiting
for him, perhaps preparing her little speech, even rehearsing it out loud as she
sat on the stone parapet. When he finally arrived, she was tongue-tied. That was
proof of a sort. Even at the time, he thought it odd that she did not speak to him.
He gave her the letter and she ran off. Minutes later, she was opening it. She
was shocked, and not only by a word. In her mind he had betrayed her love by
favoring her sister. Then, in the library, confirmation of the worst, at which
point, the whole fantasy crashed. First, disappointment and despair, then a
rising bitterness. Finally, an extraordinary opportunity in the dark, during the
search for the twins, to avenge herself. She named him— and no one but her
sister and his mother doubted her. The impulse, the flash of malice, the infantile
destructiveness he could understand. The wonder was the depth of the girl’s
rancor, her persistence with a story that saw him all the way to Wandsworth
Prison. Now he might be cleared, and that gave him joy. He acknowledged the
courage it would require for her to go back to the law and deny the evidence she
had given under oath. But he did not think his resentment of her could ever be
erased. Yes, she was a child at the time, and he did not forgive her. He would
never forgive her. That was the lasting damage» (AT, p.233-234).
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Analyzing the Author’s Style
In Atonement, especially in part two McEwan resorts to one of his common
themes of violence. Study the extract from the book “Ian McEwan: the
Essential Guide” and answer the questions.
[…] If violence is simply there to excite, then it’s merely pornographic. I
think treating it seriously – which means doing it without sentimentality –
you’re always going to bring to it a certain quality of investigation, so it's not
only the violence you show, you’re writing about violence. You're showing
something, that's certainly common in human nature. You're not necessarily
taking slides. It's not necessary always to produce a moral attitude, but in the
greater scheme of things you are bound to place the reader in some form of
critical attitude towards the circumstances. There’s always a larger intent.
For example, if you're writing about the retreat to Dunkirk, as I do in
Atonement, you can't avoid the 1act that tens of thousands of people died in that
retreat, and yet we have a rather fond memory of it in the national narrative, and
you want to play off something of the sentimentality of the 'miracle' of Dunkirk
against the reality for ordinary soldiers [McEwan’s father was one of the
320,000] as they made their way towards the beaches. Many of the images that I
used in the Dunkirk episode I drew from the Bosnian conflict. I used
photographs from that to remind myself of how soldiers and civilians, hugely
intermingled, would suffer the most appalling consequences.
I talked of sentimentally. I think it is the recurring element of popular
culture's treatment of violence. There are no consequences. Someone gets hit
over the head with a bottle and they fall, the camera moves on, the plot moves
on. Anyone who's hit on the head with a bottle is likely to suffer a lifetime
consequences. Blindness might be one of those, because the visual regions are at
the back of the head. In other words, you’ve got to make your reader do what
Conrad did in his famous preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897), you’ve
got to make your reader see. So, when people accuse me of being too graphic in
my depictions of violence, my response is, 'Well, either you do violence, or you
sentimentalize it’. If you're going to have to, you’ve got to show It in all its
horror. It's not worth doing it if you're simply going to add it there as a little bit
of spice. I’m not interested in that at all. […]
(Reynolds, Margaret and Noakes, Jonathan, Ian McEwan: the essential Guide,
2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is McEwan’s attitude to violence in a literary sense?
2. How does McEwan manage to work out such an image of violence?
3. In what form does McEwan express violence in Atonement?
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4. In his review McEwan refers to Conrad’s novel The Nigger of the Narcissus
(1897); find out more about the author and the novel. How is the theme of
violence employed in the novel The Nigger of the Narcissus?
5. What is your response to McEwan’s tradition of depicting violence?
In the review “the Trick of Truth” James Woods ponders about the
credibility of depicting history in literature and in McEwan’s novels in
particular. Study the extract from the review and answer the questions.
[…] In a novel so concerned with fiction's relation to actuality, this amazing
conjuring cannot but fail to have the weird but successful doubleness of the
novel's first section: it has a grave reality; while at the same time necessarily
raises questions about its own literary rights to that reality. Was Dunkirk really
like this? Stephen Crane's evocation of Antietam was so vivid that one veteran
swore that Crane (who did not fight) was present with him. Like Crane's
descriptions, McEwan's gather their strength not from the accuracy of their
notation but from the accumulation of living human detail, so alive that we are
persuaded that such a thing might have occurred even if no one actually
witnessed it. The soldiers dug into their own little holes in the dunes, like
marmosets, has just such a fictive reality, so that it becomes irrelevant to us were
a veteran to say: "this never happened." McEwan has made it seem plausible,
because alive. This is what Aristotle meant when he said that a convincing
impossibility is preferable in literature to an unconvincing possibility. Yet this
great freedom shows how dangerous fiction can be, and why its transit with lies
has historically been subversive and threatening. Again, McEwan wants us to
reflect on these matters. He has Robbie ponder: "Who could ever describe this
confusion, and come up with the village names and the dates for the history
books? And take the reasonable view and begin to assign the blame? No one
would ever know what it was like to be here. Without the details there could be
no larger picture." It is fiction, and McEwan's fiction, which provides "the
details" that history may miss. But--and this is a gigantic but, surely, which this
novel acknowledges--those details may be invented, may never have happened
in history.[…]
(Wood, James, “The trick of truth’, 2002).
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is the tradition of depicting historical events?
2. James Woods mentions Stephen Crane and the episode from his novel. How
did he gain credibility in his fiction?
3. What can be said about McEwan’s Atonement in this connection?
4. How does McEwan manage to draw the historical picture of the events?
5. What was the most impressive war - episode from part Two?
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6. What literary or stylistic means do you think you’re mainly touched by?
Provide examples from the text.
Part two contains a retrospective view to the past of Robbie’s character.
Study the text and answer the questions.
Flashback
The flashback is a narrative technique in which a narrator or character
interrupts the present time and returns to the past. Through this device, some
aspect of character or incident is illuminated. Movie directors commonly
employ flashbacks to condense the story and highlight the significance of
certain events. Barbra Streisand does this most effectively in Prince of Tides
where the central character, played by Nick Nolte, is forced to relive a childhood
rape, a reenactment that is crucial to his recovery as an adult. The Chinese
martial arts movie Hero is narrated almost entirely in flashback as a nameless
warrior recounts to his king how he killed three assassins who intended to
murder the sovereign. In an unexpected twist, the king contradicts his subject,
and in a separate series of flashbacks relates what he surmises really happened.
A third series of flashbacks portrays yet another reality.
Virginia Woolf manipulates time in “The Legacy”, when a husband, on
reading his wife’s diary after her death, relives past events as if they were
occurring in the present. In one such example, he reenacts a political dinner at
which he and his wife were present many years ago.
(Sybil, Marcus, a World of Fiction, 2006)
The term flashback is often used in connection with cinematic narrative
(Citizen Kane, The Locket, Wild Strawberries). The scholars speak of different
types of flashbacks: an analepsis, a retrospection, a cutback, a switchback.
An analepsis is said to be an anachrony going back to the past with respect to
the “present’ moment; an evocation of one or more events that occurred before
the “present” moment (or moment when the chronological recounting of a
sequence of events is interrupted to make room for the analepsis); a
retrospection; a flashback: “John became furious and, though he had vowed,
many years before, never to lose his temper, he began to shout hysterically.”
Analepses have a certain extent as well as a certain reach: in “Mary could not
face it. Yet she had spent several hours preparing for it the day before,” the
analepsis has an extent of several hours and a reach of one day. Completing
analepses, or returns, fill in earlier gaps resulting from ellipses in the narrative.
Repeating analepses, or recalls, tell anew already mentioned past events.
(Genette, Gerard, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, 1980)
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Review questions and tasks
1. What is a flashback?
2. What purpose do movie directors use flashbacks for?
3. Provide most prominent examples of flashbacks performed in movies.
4. In what way did Virginia Woolf manage to present the past in her work
“the Legacy”?
5. What are the types of flashbacks?
6. Provide most prominent examples of flashbacks in literary works.
This part also contains an important shift in time and place. Study the
extract from the article by David Lodge and answer the questions.
Monica's anger was rising in her face. "It was Mr. Lloyd with his one arm round
her," she said. "I saw them. I'm sorry I ever told you. Rose is the only one that
believes me."
Rose Stanley believed her, but this was because she was indifferent. She was
the least of all the Brodie set to be excited by Miss Brodie's love affairs, or by
anyone else's sex. And it was always to be the same. Later, when she was
famous for sex, her magnificently appealing qualities lay in the fact that she had
no curiosity about sex at all, she never reflected upon it. As Miss Brodie was to
say, she had instinct.
"Rose is the only one who believes me," said Monica Douglas.
When she visited Sandy at the nunnery in the late nineteen-fifties, Monica
said, "I really did see Teddy Lloyd kiss Miss Brodie in the art room one day."
"I know you did," said Sandy.
She knew it even before Miss Brodie had told her so one day after the end of
the war, when they sat in the Braid Hills Hotel eating sandwiches and drinking
tea which Miss Brodie's rations at home would not run to. Miss Brodie sat
shrivelled and betrayed in her long-preserved dark musquash coat. She had been
retired before time. She said, "I am past my prime."
"It was a good prime," said Sandy.
MURIEL SPARK The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
The story concerns Jean Brodie, an eccentric and charismatic teacher at an
Edinburgh girls' school between the Wars, and a group of pupils who were
under her spell, including Monica who was famous for her skill in maths, Rose
who was famous for sex, and Sandy Stranger, who was famous for her vowel
sounds and "merely notorious for her small, almost non-existent eyes." These
eyes, however, miss nothing and Sandy is the main point-of-view character of
the novel. It begins when the girls are Seniors, quickly moves back to describe
their time as Juniors when Miss Brodie's influence was at its most potent, and
frequently jumps forward to give glimpses of them as adult women, still teased
and haunted by memories of their extraordinary teacher.
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In Junior School they speculate obsessively about Miss Brodie's sexual life,
particularly whether she is having an affair with Mr Lloyd, the handsome artmaster who "had lost the contents" of one of his sleeves in the Great War.
Monica claims to have seen them embracing in the art room, and is vexed that
only Rose believes her. Her remarks to Sandy years later implies that this
incredulity still rankles. Sandy, who has in the meantime become a nun in an
enclosed order, acknowledges that Monica was right. She knew this, says the
narrator, even before Miss Brodie told her one day soon after the end of the war.
In this short passage the reader is whisked backwards and forwards with
breathtaking rapidity between a great many different points in time. There is the
time of the main narrative, probably the late 1920s, when the Junior schoolgirls
are discussing Miss Brodie's amorous life. There is the time in Senior School, in
the 1930s, when Rose became famous for sex. There is the time, in the late
1950s, when Monica visits Sandy in her convent. There is the time in the late
1940s when Sandy had tea with the compulsorily retired Miss Brodie. And there
is the unspecified time when Sandy discovered that Miss Brodie had indeed
been kissed by Mr Lloyd in the art room.
Muriel Spark's combination of frequent time-shift with authorial third-person
narrative is a typical postmodernist strategy, calling attention to the artificial
construction of the text, and preventing us from "losing ourselves" in the
temporal continuum of the fictional story or in the psychological depth of the
central character.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review questions and tasks
1. Analyze the example given from the point of view of the chronicle
organization.
2. What is the effect produced?
3. How is traditionally the time-shift employed in the text?
4. What techniques are used by Muriel Spark to provide the time shift effect?
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PART THREE: p. 269–315
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
a. comforting
b. mass
c. behavior
d. caprice
e. moment
f. stink
g. piece |(pl) leftover
h. housemaid
i. group | pack
j. to separate
k. careless, hasty
l. rise | rebellion
m. to shrink
n. merry
o. bloodstained
p. to fall down
q. to surrender
r. mockery
1. deportment
2. stack
3. to diverge
4. batch
5. skivvy
6. consoling
7. scrap
8. cursory
9. relinquish
10. upheaval
11. mockery
12. stench
13. chirpy
14. to flinch
15. jiff
16. gory
17. to topple
18. vagary
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Ward, bedpan, chilblain, crammer, billet, to chime, writ, jaundice, crutch, gauze,
forceps, sharpel.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
To ERODE – To D _ _ _ _ | D _ _ _ _ _
To DRIBBLE – To F _ _ _
To CLOY - To S _ _ _ _ _ _ _
9 Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words:
- short or long; monosyllabic or polysyllabic?
- heavily adjectival and adverbial, or relatively unmodified nouns and verbs?
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Understanding the Plot
1. What is the place of action? Describe it.
2. Describe Sister Drummond.
3. What was Briony’s occupation?
4. How can you describe Briony’s working conditions? (p. 275)
5. What kind of person was Fiona ? (p.273)
6. What were the relations between Briony and Fiona ?
7. How was the life of Tallis family described? (p. 275)
8. How did Briony and Sister Drummond get along with each other?
9. What did Briony use to do before going to sleep?
10. What was Briony’s mother attitude to her work?
11. What was written in the letter Briony got from her mother? Was it special?
12. What was said about other members of the family?
13. What kind of journal was Briony writing? Why was it important to her?
14. What were Briony’s stories about?
15. Describe the duties of the sisters?
16. What was the situation at the frontier?
17. What news did Briony receive from her father’s letter? What was her reaction?
18. Did Briony’s attitude towards her father change anyhow?
19. How did the situation in the hospital change? Why?
20. What did Briony learn during the war time?
21. Comment on the episode with the French patient (p.305).
22. What letter did Briony receive?(p.311)
23. What reply did Briony get from the editor of the journal?
24. What advice was given to Briony by the editor?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the participants:
- passive subjects or active agents?
- depersonalized or personalised?
How far are the processes:
- externally communicated ( concerned with “saying”, “writing” “reading”,
“showing”. etc.) or internally perceived ( concerned with “thinking” “
feeling”, “sensing” etc.)?
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“He looked like a boy of fifteen, but she saw from his chart that he was her own
age, eighteen. He was sitting, propped by several pillows, watching the
commotion around him with a kind of abstracted childlike wonder. It was hard to
think of him as a soldier. He had a fine, delicate face, with dark eyebrows and
dark green eyes, and a soft full mouth. His face was white and had an unusual
sheen, and the eyes were unhealthily radiant. His head was heavily bandaged. As
she brought up her chair and sat down he smiled as though he had been expecting
her, and when she took his hand he did not seem surprised. “Te voila enfin”. The
French vowels had a musical twang, but she could just about understand him. His
hand was cold and greasy to the touch. She said, “The sister told me to come and
have a little chat with you.” Not knowing the word, she translated “sister”
literally. “Your sister is very kind.” Then he cocked his head and added, “But she
always was. And is all going well for her? What does she do these days?”
There was such friendliness and charm in his eyes, such boyish eagerness to
engage her that she could only go along.
“She’s a nurse too.”
“Of course. You told me before. Is she still happy? Did she get married to that
man she loved so well? Do you know, I can’t remember his name. I hope you’ll
forgive me. Since my injury my memory has been poor. But they tell me it will
soon come back. What was his name?”
“Robbie. But . . .”
“And they’re married now and happy?”
“Er, I hope they will be soon.”
“I’m so happy for her.”
“You haven’t told me your name.”
“Luc. Luc Cornet. And yours?”
She hesitated. “Tallis.”
“Tallis. That’s very pretty.” The way he pronounced it, it was”
(AT, p. 305-306).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- speeches – quoted directly or indirectly, freely or precisely?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- material and dynamic ( concerned with “doing” and “happening”) or
rational and “state-like” ( concerned with “being” and “having”)?
- externally communicated ( concerned with “saying”, “writing” “reading”,
“showing”. etc.) or internally perceived ( concerned with “thinking” “
feeling”, “sensing” etc.)?
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“He looked away from her face and gazed at the ward, turning his head slowly,
quietly amazed. Then he closed his eyes and began to ramble, speaking softly
under his breath. Her vocabulary was not good enough to follow him easily. She
caught, “You count them slowly, in your hand, on your fingers . . . my mother’s
scarf . . . you choose the color and you have to live with it.”[…]
“Do you love me?”
She hesitated. “Yes.” No other reply was possible. Besides, for that moment, she
did. He was a lovely boy who was a long way from his family and he was about
to die.
She gave him some water. While she was wiping his face again he said, “Have
you ever been on the Causse de Larzac?”
“No. I’ve never been there.”
But he did not offer to take her. Instead he turned his head away into the pillow,
and soon he was murmuring his unintelligible scraps. His grip on her hand
remained tight as though he were aware of her presence. When he became lucid
again, he turned his head toward her.
“You won’t leave just yet.”
“Of course not. I’ll stay with you.”
“Tallis . . .”
Still smiling, he half closed his eyes. Suddenly, he jerked upright as if an electric
current had been applied to his limbs. He was gazing at her in surprise, with his
lips parted. Then he tipped forward, and seemed to lunge at her. She jumped up
from her chair to prevent him toppling to the floor. His hand still held hers, and
his free arm was around her neck. His forehead was pressed into her shoulder,
his cheek was against hers. She was afraid the sterile towel would slip from his
head. She thought she could not support his weight or bear to see his wound
again. The grating sound from deep in his throat resounded in her ear.
Staggering, she eased him onto the bed and settled him back on the pillows.
“It’s Briony,” she said, so only he would hear.
His eyes had a wide-open look of astonishment and his waxy skin gleamed in the
electric light. She moved closer and put her lips to his ear. Behind her was a
presence, and then a hand resting on her shoulder” (AT, p.307-308).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
This part of the book also contains an example of a letter as the most
frequent form of realization of epistolary novel. Study the text from David
Lodge’s book “Art of Fiction” and answer the questions.
Sometimes the letters read like dramatic monologues, in which we overhear
one side only of a dialogue, and infer the rest: "What? Are my underpants
aubergine? Of course they're not aubergine! Don't you know anything about my
taste at all?" There, the style approaches skaz, the imitation of oral narrative I
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consciously literary writing, like, "One of her maddeningly percipient, odd,
crabwise heroines may be scattering bizarrely sideways at the sight of some
bumptious young academic's aubergine underpants." If that sentence seems a
shade over-written, weighed down with too many adjectives and adverbs. The
narrator must vividly convey the comedy of his plight, but he cannot be allowed
true eloquence, for that would contradict his inability to master the "trick of it".
Writing, strictly speaking, can only faithfully imitate other writing. Its
representation of speech, and still more of non-verbal events, is highly artificial.
But a fictional letter is indistinguishable from a real letter. A reference to the
circumstances in which a novel is being written, in the text itself, would
normally draw attention to the existence of the "real" author behind the text, and
thus break the fictional illusion of reality, but in the epistolary novel it
contributes to the illusion. I do not, for example, incorporate telephone calls
from my agent into the text of my novel-in-progress.
The pseudo-documentary realism of the epistolary method gave the early
novelists an unprecedented power over their audiences, comparable to the spell
exerted on modern television audiences by certain soap-operas. While the
enormously long Clarissa was being published, volume by volume, Richardson
was frequently begged by readers not to allow the heroine to die, and many of
the first readers of Pamela supposed it was an actual correspondence, of which
Richardson was merely the editor. Modern readers of literary fiction will not be
thus taken in, of course; but it is a neat trick to make an academic complain of
the way novelists turn fact into fiction ("That's what they do, these people. They
embroider, they improve on the truth - they tell lies") in a kind of novel
originally designed to make fiction look like fact.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review questions and tasks
1. Can we differentiate an epistolary novel from an autobiography?
2. What are the effects obtained by the authors?
3. Why did an epistolary novel gain such popularity?
4. What is the significance of employing the technique of epistolary novel in
Atonement?
David Lodge in his book the Art of Fiction explores the problem of
intertextuality. Study the extract and answer the questions.
"We must try to haul this mainsail close up," I said. The shadows swayed
away from me without a word. Those men were the ghosts of themselves, and
their weight on a rope could be no more than the weight of a bunch of ghosts.
Indeed, if ever a sail was hauled up by sheer spiritual strength it must have been
that sail; for, properly speaking, there was not muscle enough for the task in the
whole ship, let alone the miserable lot of us on deck. Of course, I took the lead
in the work myself. They wandered feebly after me from rope to rope, stumbling
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and panting. They toiled like Titans. We were an hour at it at least, and all the
time the black universe made no sound. When the last leech-line was made fast,
my eyes, accustomed to the darkness, made out the shapes of exhausted men
dropping over the rails, collapsed on hatches. One hung over the after-capstan,
sobbing for breath; and I stood amongst them like a tower of strength,
impervious to disease and feeling only the sickness of my soul. I waited for
some time, fighting against the weight of my sins, against my sense of
unworthiness, and then I said:
"Now, men, we'll go aft and square the mainyard. That's about all we can do
for the ship; and for the rest she must take her chance."
Joseph Conrad The Shadow-Line (1917)
There is however another aspect of the art of fiction, known only to writers,
which often involves intertextuality, and that is the Missed Opportunity.
Inevitably, in the course of reading, one sometimes comes across echoes,
anticipations and analogues of one's own work long after the latter is finished
and done with, too late to take advantage of the discovery. Towards the end o f
Small World there is a scene set in New York during the MLA Convention,
which is always held in the last days of December. Following the triumph of the
hero, Persse McGarrigle, at the session on the Function of Criticism, there is an
astonishing change in the weather, a warm southerly airstream raising the
temperature in Manhattan to a level unprecedented at that season. In the mythic
scheme of the book, this is equivalent to the fertilization of the Fisher King's
barren kingdom in the Grail Legend, as a result of the Grail Knight asking the
necessary question. Arthur Kingfisher, the doyen of modern academic criticism
presiding over the Convention, feels the curse of sexual impotence miraculously
lifted from him. He tells his Korean mistress, Song-mi:
"It's like the halcyon days ... A period of calm weather in the middle of
winter. The ancients used to call them the halcyon days, when the kingfisher
was supposed to hatch its eggs. Remember Milton - 'The bird sits brooding on
the charmed mavel The bird was a kingfisher. That's what 'halcyon' means in
Greek, Song-mi: kingfisher. The halcyon days were kingfisher days. My days.
Our days."
He might have gone on to quote another, wonderfully apposite snatch of verse:
Kingfisher weather, with a light fair breeze,
Full canvas, and the eight sails drawing well.
And he might have added: "They were the best lines in 'The Waste Land', but
Ezra Pound persuaded Tom Eliot to cut them out." Unfortunately I didn't come
across these lines, in Valerie Eliot's edition of The Waste Land: a facsimile and
transcript of the original drafts including the annotations of Ezra Pound, until
some time after Small World had been published.
(Lodge, David, The Art of Fiction, 1992)
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Review Questions and Tasks
1. Read the extract by Joseph Conrad and formulate the subject matter of the
text.
2. How does Lodge define and interpret intertextuality?
3. Comment on the examples of intertextuality provided in the text of the article.
4. How is intertextuality expressed in the novel Atonement?
5. What intertextual features can we trace? Prove with the examples from the
text.
6. Check the meanings of the words in the box and use them in the sentence of
your own:
Haul, mainsail, hatch, capstan, impervious, snatch.
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PART THREE: p. 315–349
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
1. to subjugate
2. to lurch
3. inept
4. rueful
5. continence
6. fidget
7. jittery
8. sardonic
9. irrefutable
10. to obliterate
uneasiness
temperance
to conquer
sad | pitiful
nervous
unsuitable | foolish
to stagger
indisputable
sarcastic
to erase
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Exhilaration, infantrymen, cowardice, ajar, chafe, defiance, to reverberate, to
tousle.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
IMPEDIMENT – H _ _ _ _ _ _ P
ANGUISH – M _ _ _ _ _
RIGIDITY – H _ _ _ _ _ _ S
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are the words there:
- concrete or abstract; particular or general?
- literal or figurative; particular or metaphorical?
Understanding the Plot
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
How did Briony percept the happening?
What was special about Saturday morning? Where was Briony going?
Describe the way Briony looked like.
Comment on the church description (p.322).
What was Briony’s destination?
What was the reason for Briony’s journey?
Comment on the ceremony (p.323).
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8. Did the couple look happy?
9. Describe the episode Briony meeting Lola (p.327).
10. What was Briony’s way back like?
11. What was Briony’s second destination?
12. Describe the house (p.330).
13. Comment on the episode Briony meeting Cecilia. (p.331)
14. Did Cecilia change much?
15. What was the conversation between Briony and Cecilia about? What was
the way each of them behaved?
16. Describe their talk.
17. What were the relations between Cecilia and the landlady?
18. Describe the room they were in (p. 338).
19. What new details of the case do we get from their talk?
20. Comment on Robbie’s appearance.
21. What was Briony’s reaction to Robbie?
22. How did Robbie behave during the conversation?
23. What was the deal they had decided?
24. What was Briony feeling after visiting Cecilia and Robbie (p.349)?
Translating the Extracts
9 Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- speech moves, turns and exchanges with specific structures?
How far does the base text of the extract project the world as if it were
composed of participants, processes and circumstances?
How far are the processes:
- active or passive ?
“. . . Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not be
lawfully joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his
peace.”
Was it really happening? Was she really rising now, with weak legs and empty
contracting stomach and stuttering heart, and moving along the pew to take her
position in the center of the aisle, and setting out her reasons, her just causes, in
a defiant untrembling voice as she advanced in her cape and headdress, like a
bride of Christ, toward the altar, toward the openmouthed vicar who had never
before in his long career been interrupted, toward the congregation of twisted
necks, and the half-turned white-faced couple? She had not planned it, but the
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question, which she had quite forgotten, from the Book of Common Prayer, was
a provocation. And what were the impediments exactly? Now was her chance to
proclaim in public all the private anguish and purge herself of all that she had
done wrong. Before the altar of this most rational of churches. But the scratches
and bruises were long healed, and all her own statements at the time were to the
contrary. Nor did the bride appear to be a victim, and she had her parents’
consent. More than that, surely; a chocolate magnate, the creator of Amo. Aunt
Hermione would be rubbing her hands. That Paul Marshall, Lola Quincey and
she, Briony Tallis, had conspired with silence and falsehoods to send an
innocent man to jail? But the words that had convicted him had been her very
own, read out loud on her behalf in the Assize Court. The sentence had already
been served. The debt was paid. The verdict stood» (AT, p.324-325).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- familiar collocations (recognizable word-clusters) – or is much of it
strikingly new?
- coordinated and / or subordinated structures?
«Briony’s knees were actually beginning to tremble. Supporting herself with one
hand on the table, she moved away from the kitchen area so that Cecilia could
fill the kettle. Briony longed to sit down. She would not do so until invited, and
she would never ask. So she stood by the wall, pretending not to lean against it,
and watched her sister. What was surprising was the speed with which her relief
that Robbie was alive was supplanted by her dread of confronting him. Now she
had seen him walk across the room, the other possibility, that he could have
been killed, seemed outlandish, against all the odds. It would have made no
sense. She was staring at her sister’s back as she moved about the tiny kitchen.
Briony wanted to tell her how wonderful it was that Robbie had come back
safely. What deliverance. But how banal that would have sounded. And she had
no business saying it. She feared her sister, and her scorn» (AT, p.338).
9 Stylistic check-up: What are the main ways in which the words are
grouped or organised in the extract below?
How far are there:
- lightly or heavily modified nouns – pre- or post-modified; in/ definite
articles?
- one or more verbal tenses and aspects – suggesting what frames of time,
duration and frequency?
«He stared at her, lips slightly parted. He really had changed in five years. The
hardness in his gaze was new, and the eyes were smaller and narrower, and in
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the corners were the firm prints of crow’s feet. His face was thinner than she
remembered, the cheeks were sunken, like an Indian brave’s. He had grown a
little toothbrush mustache in the military style. He was startlingly handsome,
and there came back to her from years ago, when she was ten or eleven, the
memory of a passion she’d had for him, a real crush that had lasted days. Then
she confessed it to him one morning in the garden and immediately forgot about
it» (AT, p.342).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
Analyze two extracts from the reviews by James Woods and Geoff Dyer
exploring the style of the third part of the novel. Answer the questions.
[…]”Part three shifts back to London, where Briony is training as a nurse,
struggling to cope with the influx of casualties from Dunkirk. McEwan's
command of visceral shock is here anchored in a historical setting thoroughly
authenticated by his archival imagination. The elliptical style of the opening part
has no place in these pages, as the graphic horrors of injury, mutilation and death
pile up before Briony's eyes. She loosens the bandage around a patient's head and
his brain threatens to slop out into her hands. Does this devotion to the victims of
war wash her hands of her earlier guilt? Does her atonement depend on Robbie's
survival? Or can it be achieved through the eventual realisation of her literary
ambitions - through a novel such as the one we are reading? Who can grant
atonement to the novelist, whose God-like capacity to create and rework the
world means that there is no higher authority to whom appeal can be made? “
(Dyer, Geoff, "Who's Afraid of Violence?"2001).
In Part Three, we see Briony working as a trainee nurse at a London hospital.
We learn that she is terribly sorry for what she did in 1935 and that, in a gesture
of atonement; she has forsworn Cambridge, and dedicated herself to nursing.
Late in the section, she visits her estranged sister in Clapham, and finds her
living with Robbie, who has briefly returned from his army service in France.
Again, McEwan writes superbly well, especially in his evocation of Briony's
nursing experiences. Soldiers arrive, looking identical in their dirt and torn
clothes, "like a wild race of men from a terrible world." One of them has had
most of his nose blown off, and it falls to Briony to change his dressings. "She
could see through his missing cheek to his upper and lower molars, and the
tongue glistening, and hideously long. Further up, where she hardly dared look,
were the exposed muscles around his eye socket. So intimate and never intended
to be seen." There is great tenderness in this description of the poor soldier's eye
muscles, "so intimate and never intended to be seen." We may even think of
another moment, earlier in Briony's life, when she also witnessed something
"intimate and never intended to be seen." But the mark of the true writer, the
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writer who is really looking, really witnessing, is that notation of the soldier's
exposed tongue as "hideously long"-something worthy of Conrad.
(Wood, James, ‘The trick of Truth’, 2002)
1.
2.
3.
4.
Review Questions and Tasks
What is peculiar about the style of part three?
What are the most significant points concerning the style mentioned by the
critics?
With the help of what stylistic devices and means does McEwan succeed in
depicting the background events of part three?
Find and analyze the episodes showing the expressiveness and
impressiveness of McEwan’s description in this part.
Frank Kermode in one of his reviews tells about McEwan’s experiments
with narrative techniques and literary structures and forms. Study the
extract from his review and answer the questions.
McEwan’s skill has here developed to the point where it gives disquiet as well
as pleasure. Perhaps to be disquieting has always been his ambition: the first
stories were in various ways startling. By now he is such a virtuoso that one is
tempted to imagine that the best readers of this book might be Henry James and
Ford Madox Ford.
For example, we are told that Briony, while still a wartime nurse, sent a
novella called Two Figures by a Fountain to Horizon. It was not accepted, but
the Editor, Cyril Connolly[1903-74] (or anyway someone who signs himself
simply as “C.C.”) wrote her a letter running to over a thousand words, with
favourable comment on sentences we have already admired [in Part one, Robbie
is also said to have had a rejection slip initialed by T. S. Elliot from Criterion).
The implication is that the present novel is an expansion of that early work. We
can even spot changes from novella to novel (for example, Cecilia goes 'fully
dressed' into the fountain) and might attribute the improvements to C.C.’s kindly
advice. He wonders if the young author 'doesn't owe a little too much to the
techniques of Mrs. Woolf'. The novella, he claims, lacks the interest of forward
movement, 'an underlying pull of simple narrative'. He thinks the vase should
not have been Ming (too expensive to take out of doors; perhaps Sevres or
Nyphenburg?) The Bernini fountain she mentions is not in the Piazza Navona
but in the Piazza Barberini (the error is corrected in the novel). He complains
that Briony's story ends with the damp patch left beside the fountain when
Robbie and Cecilia have gone (it is still there in the longer version but it is there
only a beginning.) Elizabeth Bowen, it seems, read the novella with interest, but
thought it cloying, except when it echoed [Rosamond Lehmann’s] Dusty Answer
(1927). The author is invited to drop by at the office for a glass of wine
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whenever she has the time. Had she, by the way, a sister at Girton six or seven
years ago? Given her hospital address, is she a doctor or an invalid?
In the first place parody, this brilliant invention does quite a lot of what James
called structural work. It is funny because although it sounds rather like him,
Connolly would never have written such a letter; it lives like the book as a
whole, on that borderline between fantasy and fact that is indeed the territory of
fiction. McEwan has examined this territory with intelligent and creative
attention, and it could probably be said that no contemporary of his had shown
such passionate dedication to the art of the novel.
(Kermode, Frank, “Point of View’, 2001)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. In what connection were the names of Henry James and Ford M. Ford
mentioned by the critic?
2. What is the role of the editor’s letter sent to Briony?
3. Can we treat the letter mostly positively or discouraging from the point of
view of Kermode?
4. What are the main points criticized by the editor?
5. Analyzing the points say what coloring do they add to the whole image of
Briony and her writing talent.
6. What parody features does Kermode point out in this editor’s letter?
7. Who is Elizabeth Bowen? In what connection was she mentioned by the
editor?
8. What authors were mentioned as being echoed in Briony’s novel?
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PART THREE: p. 353–372
Focus on Vocabulary
9 Match the words with their equivalents.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
1. sinister
2. posse
3. to make amends
4. irascible
5. to soothe
6. severity
7. boisterous
8. fidgety
9. ethereal
10. indigence
group | company
to calm down
furious | loud
nervous
supernatural
evil
irritable
lack
sternness
to compensate
9 Give Russian equivalents to the following words and use them in the
sentences of your own.
Vascular, dementia, doddery, fedora, to shush, ferocity, evasion.
9 Give synonyms for the following words (use the prompts).
1.
2.
3.
4.
PRIGGISH - P _ _ _ _ _ _ C
To RECONCILE – To S _ _ _ _ _E
OBSCURE – U _ _ _ _ _ R
To DISSEMBLE – To D_ _ _ _ _ _ E
Stylistic check-up: What sorts of vocabulary are being used in the
exercises above?
How far are the words there:
- common and everyday, or from a specific area of use ( religion, technology,
etc.)?
- context-sensitive, or relatively context free?
9
Understanding the Plot
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Who is narrating the story?
What is the place of action?
How does the place of action change throughout the chapter?
What do we get to know about the health of Mrs. Tallis?
What association did Mrs. Tallis’ have concerning cars?
What was Mrs. Tallis occupation?
What information do we get about the family from her speculations?
What was the purpose of visiting the museum?
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9. Whom did Mrs. Tallis meet entering the museum?
10. What remarks on the novel did Mrs. Tallis find in the letter?
11. Comment on the image of the cab driver. (p. 362).
12. What was Mrs. Tallis feeling when reaching the house?
13. What was the purpose of the visit?
14. What memories did Mrs. Tallis have?
15. In what room was Mrs. Tallis staying?
16. Comment on the moment describing Mrs. Tallis meeting the guests. (p.365)
17. What was the surprise prepared for Mrs. Tallis? What was her reaction?
How did the guests react?
18. What did Mrs. Tallis say in her speech?
19. What details do we get about the book written by Mrs. Tallis?
20. Why did Mrs. Tallis have problems with publishing it?
21. What happened to Cecil and Robbie in real life?
22. What part of the book was changed? Why?
23. Did Mrs. Tallis reach the atonement she was craving for ?
24. Did Mrs. Tallis feel as being forgiven?
25. Why was that book was so important for Mrs. Tallis?
Translating the Extracts
9
Give a literary translation of the extracts given below.
9 Revising types of textual intervention – Alternative endings:
Alter the ending of the base text so as to draw attention to some option not
explored or in some way foreclosed.
“There was a crime. But there were also the lovers. Lovers and their happy
ends have been on my mind all night long. As into the sunset we sail. An
unhappy inversion. It occurs to me that I have not traveled so very far after all,
since I wrote my little play. Or rather, I’ve made a huge digression and doubled
back to my starting place. It is only in this last version that my lovers end well,
standing side by side on a South London pavement as I walk away. All the
preceding drafts were pitiless. But now I can no longer think what purpose
would be served if, say, I tried to persuade my reader, by direct or indirect
means, that Robbie Turner died of septicemia at Bray Dunes on 1 June 1940, or
that Cecilia was killed in September of the same year by the bomb that destroyed
Balham Underground station. That I never saw them in that year. That my walk
across London ended at the church on Clapham Common, and that a cowardly
Briony limped back to the hospital, unable to confront her recently bereaved
sister. That the letters the lovers wrote are in the archives of the War Museum.
How could that constitute an ending? What sense or hope or satisfaction could a
reader draw from such an account? Who would want to believe that they never
met again, never fulfilled their love? Who would want to believe that, except in
the service of the bleakest realism? I couldn’t do it to them. I’m too old, too
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frightened, too much in love with the shred of life I have remaining. I face an
incoming tide of forgetting, and then oblivion. I no longer possess the courage
of my pessimism. When I am dead, and the Marshalls are dead, and the novel is
finally published, we will only exist as my inventions. Briony will be as much of
a fantasy as the lovers who shared a bed in Balham and enraged their landlady.
No one will care what events and which individuals were misrepresented to
make a novel. I know there’s always a certain kind of reader who will be
compelled to ask, but what really happened? The answer is simple: the lovers
survive and flourish. As long as there is a single copy, a solitary typescript of my
final draft, then my spontaneous, fortuitous sister and her medical prince
survive to love “ (AT, p.370-371).
Analyzing the Author’s Style
The last part of the novel also includes a time and place shift. Study the
extract, illustrating the examples of shifting. Complete the tasks.
[…] Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1969) is another striking example.
The author tells us at the outset that the story of his hero, Billy Pilgrim, is a
fiction based on his own real experience of being a prisoner of war in Dresden
when it was destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945, one of the most horrific airraids of World War II. The story proper begins: "Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come
unstuck in time” and it shifts frequently and abruptly between various episodes
in Billy's civilian life as an optometrist, husband and father in the American
midwest, and episodes of his war-service culminating in the horror of Dresden.
This is more than just the operation of memory. Billy is "time-tripping''. With
other traumatized veterans he seeks to escape the intolerable facts of modern
history by means of the science-fiction myth of effortless travel through time
and intergalactic space (which is measured in time -"light-years"). He claims to
have been abducted for a period to the planet Tralfamadore, which is inhabited
by little creatures who look like plumber's friends with an eye on top. These
passages are both amusingly parodic of science fiction and philosophically
serious. To the Tralfamadorians, all times are simultaneously present, and one
can choose where to locate oneself. It is the inexorable, unidirectional
movement of time that makes life tragic in our human perspective, unless one
believes in an eternity in which time is redeemed, and its effects reversed.
Slaughterhouse Five is a wistful, thought-provoking meditation on these
matters, post-Christian as well as postmodernist. One of its most striking and
poignant images is of a war-film which Billy Pilgrim watches in reverse.
(Lodge, David , The Art of Fiction, 1992)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Comment on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ and time-shift
techniques used in it.
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Some reviewers disapproved the postmodernist shift at the end of the
Atonement, where the third-person narrative suddenly proves to have been
intradiegetic, attributed not to an anonymous authorial voice but to Briony,
a character within a story. This trick as it has been pejoratively described is
extremely important to the novel. Read the extract from the review by James
Wood focusing on the closing of the novel and answer the questions.
Atonement ends with a devastating twist, a piece of information that changes
our sense of everything we have just read. It is convincing enough, but its
neatness seems like the reappearance of the old McEwan, unwilling to let the
ropes fall from his hands. In an epilogue, set in 1999, we learn that Briony, now
a distinguished old novelist, wrote the three sections--the country house scene,
the Dunkirk retreat, and the London hospital--that we have just read. Moreover,
Robbie and Cecilia were never together, as the third section suggested. Robbie
was killed in France in 1940, and Cecilia died in the same year in London,
during the German bombing. The conjuring that we have just witnessed has
been Briony's atonement for what she did. She could not resist the chance to
spare the young lovers, to continue their lives into fiction, to give the story a
happy ending.
This twist, this revelation, further emphasizes the novel's already explicit
ambivalence about being a novel, and makes the book a proper postmodern
artifact, wearing its doubts on its sleeve, on the outside, as the Pompidou does
its escalators. But it is unnecessary, unless the slightly self-defeating point is to
signal that the author is himself finally incapable of resisting the distortions of
tidiness. It is unnecessary because the novel has already raised, powerfully but
murmuringly, the questions that this final revelation shouts out. And it is
unnecessary because the fineness of the book as a novel, as a distinguished and
complex evocation of English life before and during the war, burns away the
theoretical, and implants in the memory a living, flaming presence.
(Childs, Peter, The fiction of Ian McEwan: A Reader’s Guide to essential
Criticism, 2006)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. What is the significance of such ending of the novel according to James
Wood?
2. Why is the closure of the novel so important from the stylistic point of view?
3. Does James Wood approve or disapprove the way McEwan finished the
story?
4. Do you agree with the author of the review?
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Atonement represents vivid examples of the shifting literary traditions,
emphasizing the idea of intertexuality so significant for postmodernist
writing. Study the extract from the review, answer the questions and then
make a more detailed analysis of the literary references mentioned.
Atonement draws on the many precedents of Jane Austen, E.M. Forster,
Elizabeth Bowen (1899-19730, Henry Green (1905-73), Rosamond
Lehman (1903-90) and Ivy Compton-Burnett (1892-1969), and perhaps most of
all Henry James (1843-1916), whose What Maisie Knew (1897), along with The
Go-Between (1953) by L.P. Hartley (1895-1972), stands behind McEwan's story
of an adult’s world seen through the eyes of a child. One of McEwan's strongest
novels, Atonement also echoes Clarissa’s recreation of Bourton in her memories
in Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway (1925), and its method of shifting
perspectives strongly recalls Woolf's writing. McEwan explains his concern in
Atonement with the tradition of the English novel, which was much commented
upon the by reviewers.
Part of the intention of Atonement was to look at storytelling itself. And to
examine the relationship between what is imagined and what is true. It's a novel
full of other writers - not only Briony of course, who's stalked, haunted by the
figures of Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Rosamond Lehmann, but Robbie
too has a relationship, a deep relationship with writing and storytelling.
The danger of an imagination that can't quite see the boundaries of what is real
and what is unreal, drawn again from Jane Austen - another writer who is crucial
to this novel- plays a part in Briony’s sense that her atonement has consisted in a
lifetime of writing this novel. She's condemned to write it over and over again.
Now she’s a dying woman, she has vascular dementia, her mind is emptying,
and finally she writes a draft which is different from all the others. She falls, as
she sees it, to have the courage of her pessimism, and rewrites the love story so
that the lovers survive.
(Reynolds, Margaret and Noakes, Jonathan, Ian McEwan: the Essential
Guide, 2002)
Review Questions and Tasks
1. Outline the major style features of the authors mentioned in the review and
their reflection in the novel.
2. What is McEwan’s viewpoint on the idea of intertextuality expressed in the
novel?
3. Why does Jane Austen stand out of the other authors? What is the
significance of her influence to Atonement?
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Writing Activity
There are different modes of critical-creating writing such as traditional
academic essay, analysis etc.
‘Imitation” is a technique of recasting the base text in the manner – andmatter- of another author. It entails transformations of fundamental issues
and discourses, along with settings and contexts, etc.
Here you can read the information on epistolary novel, memoir-novel and
detective fiction.
EPISTOLARY NOVEL: a novel written in the form of a series of letters
exchanged among the characters of the story, with extracts from their journals
sometimes included. The first notable example in English was a translation
from the French in 1678, Letters of a Portuguese Nun. In 1683 A. Behn
published Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister, and many similar
tales of illicit love and love manuals followed. A form of narrative often used
in English and French novels of the 18th century, it has been revived only
rarely since then, as in John Barth's Letters (1979). Important examples
include Richardson's Pamela (1740-1) and Clarissa (1747-8), Rousseau's La
Nouvelle Heloise (1761), and Laclos's Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782).
(Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, 2001)
MEMOIR-NOVEL: an early form of the novel, purporting to be true
autobiographical history, often including diaries and journals, but in fact
largely or wholly fictitious. The form arose in 17th-cent. France, and Defoe,
with Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Moll Flanders (1722), was the first English
master. During the 18th cent, the author's claim to be presenting a genuine
memoir dwindled to a literary convention; Smollett's Roderick Random,
Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield, Mackenzie's The Man of Feeling. M.
Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, and many others were presented as memoirs
under only the thinnest disguise. The popularity of the form declined sharply
in the 19th cent., but Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified
Sinner, Dickens's David Copperfield, Melville's Moby-Dick, C. Bronte's Jane
Eyre, and several novels of Thackeray (notably The History of Henry Esmond)
are outstanding examples.
(The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2004)
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In your texts use the words which were taken from the chapters:
Lithe, to flummox, abyss, lukewarm, commotion, garrulous, tangible, to
scowl, to soliloquize, condolence, qualms, awestruck, vexation, to merge,
clamorous, submissive, to vouch, morbid, taunt, poplar, ignominy, to pant,
peeve, humdrum, pretence, decisive, disposal, hindmost, swagger,
jaundice, crutch, gauze, forceps, inept, rueful, continence, jittery,
sardonic, exhilaration, to chafe, to tousle, to soothe, fidgety, ethereal,
dementia, dobbery, obscure, to dissemble, hilarity, tramp, to giggle, meek,
to caress, damn, to agitate, lament, to scatter, bonkers, catechism, dizzy,
haze, nun, to summon, mockery, sinister, to make amends, stench, chirpy,
vagary, trudge, jeer, prim.
DETECTIVE FICTION: Crime has been a staple of storytelling since its
beginnings, and misdirection of the reader, for example about facts (Torn
Jones's parentage) or emotions (in Emma or Much Ado about Nothing), has
equally had its special position, leading to striking revelations at a late crisis
point. The classic English detective novel marries the two elements. Its
particular form owes its greatest debt to Poe, whose three or four detective
stories written in the 1840s strikingly anticipate many of the genre's main
features. In particular, English writers followed him in creating detectives who
were remote from the common herd, creatures of pure ratiocination, emotional
hermits who observed but did not participate in the hurly- burly of life around
them. The fact that the steely logic of Poe's detective Dupin often leads him to
conclusions that border on the absurd does not seem to have worried most
readers.
Around mid-century there were other detectives, such as Dickens's
Inspector Bucket (Bleak House, 1853) and W. Collins's Sergeant Cuff ("The
Moonstone, 1868), who were apparently more homely and engaging. But after
the triumphant debut of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet (1887) it was
Poe's model which won the day, and traces of the stereotype can be found in
figures such as Baroness Orczy's Old Man in the Corner, Agatha Christie's
Poirot, P. D. James's Dalgliesh, and Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse.
Conan Doyle was the master of the short story, packing each one with
observation, conflict, and sharply dramatized character types. His success
attracted hordes of followers and imitators, of whom Arthur 'Morrison and G.
K. 'Chesterton were notable, lire most engaging of the figures produced in
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reaction to Holmes's intellectuality and near-inhumanity was E. W. Hornung's
gentleman burglar Raffles.
Holmes and Raffles, both quintessential late Victorian figures, contrast
oddly: Raffles, nominally the social outcast, has for the most part perfectly
conventional social attitudes, whereas Holmes, who in most cases acts for and
reinforces the existing social order, is an outsider who is frequently downright
contemptuous of the people he represents.
It was left to P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, who emerged in the 1960s and
1970s, to re-establish the English detective novel as a popular force. They
both wrote novels in the whodunit tradition. Neither would have anything to
do with the Never-never- shire settings of some of the Golden Age writers.
The realistic and contemporary feel to both writers' novels has aided their
transfer to television, and the success of these series, and of Dexter's Morse,
has boosted the popularity of modern crime fiction as a whole.
At the end of the 20th cent, the vigour and variety of British crime-writing
are more impressive than ever. Studies of the mind of a criminal (going back
to 'Godwin and the Newgate novelists in the 1830s) are frequent, led by Ruth
Rendell (Master of the Moor, 1982) and her alter ego, Barbara Vine (A DarkAdapted Rye, 1986). Margaret Yorke is mistress of low-key studies of
situations in which ordinary people get entangled, wit h murderous
consequences. Sheila Radley's a Talent for Destruction (1982) is in this
tradition. Comedy has not been buried with the Golden Age, and a more
modern vein has been exploited by Simon Brett, Peter Lovesey (The False
Inspector Dew, 1982), and Caroline Graham (The Killings al Badger's Drift,
1987). Historical crime has made a strong comeback, with the Brother
Cadfael novels of Ellis Peters (1913-95), Edward Mansion's Elizabethan
theatre series, and Lindsey Davis's Ealco novels, which transplant the
atmosphere of American private-eye fiction to ancient Rome.
The continuing popularity of Lhe detective novel is undoubted. The fact that
it is a popular form that engages the mind rather than the emotions has always
given it a degree of respectability. Though murder has been almost a sine qua
non of detective fiction since the 1920s, the shock or frisson that murder
might be expected to produce is almost always lacking: the body is merely
the means to a detection process. Though in the last twenty or thirty years
crime novels have become more realistic, delight in gore and exploitation of
horror and pain are still largely absent from the British product. When
hanging was abolished, the demise of the detective novel was predicted as a
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consequence, but this was to misunderstand its whole nature. The point of a
mystery is that the culprit is revealed to general surprise, not that vengeance
is exacted for his crime.
(The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, 2004)
In your texts use the words which were taken from the chapters:
Turmoil, gnawing pain, reluctant, brutality, to assault, chivalrous,
handcuff, innuendo, corpse, to snatch, slaughter, catcall, ward,
cowardice, posse, severity, evasion, nurture, deportment, diverge,
batch, to relinquish, upheaval, to flinch, jiff, gory, to topple, nurture,
deportment, to diverge, batch, skilly, scrap, cursory, to relinquish,
upheaval, chilblain, billet, to chime, writ, lurch, inept, irrefutable, to
obliterate, ajar, defiance, to reverberate, ferocity, to reconcile, plight,
cabal, to jostle, vile, dolt, to squirt, to squawk, straggler, to haul, to
dispatch, tussle, to disperse, to wrench, to cower.
Your task is to write a text imitating one of the two genres mentioned above:
- choose a genre you like best;
- think over the content of the text ( the plot, the characters, the setting
etc.);
- make a plan to summarize your thoughts;
- express your ideas in writing;
- use the words in the box (they were meaningfully grouped from the
chapters).
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Final Discussion
1. What is your impression of the novel?
2. Does the novel meet your expectations or not?
3. What is your idea of the title? After reading the novel how can you comment
on that? Would you introduce your own variant of the title?
4. How can you characterize the author’s style? Was it hard to read?
5. What is the general mood of the novel?
6. Is it significant that the novel is divided into 4 parts?
7. How can we characterize the first part?
8. What is the main theme?
9. Why did the author put the chapter numbers only in the first part?
10. What is the main topic of the third part?
11. Why do you think the author named the last part as “London, 1999” but not
“Part Four”?
12. What are your feelings towards the main characters? (Briony, Cecilia,
Robbie, Lola, Paul Marshall)
13. Have you changed your attitude towards these characters after reading the
novel?
14. Is it important that the vase was glued together by Cecilia, and broken
finally during the war by Betty as she reads that the house was to accept
evacuees?
15. What is the role of the epigraph? Why did the author imply this epigraph
from “ Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austin? Does this story have any similarity
with Atonement?
16. What is the emotional effect of double ending? For what purpose was it
used by the author?
17. Why does Mc Ewan return to the novel‘s opening with the long-delayed
performance of the Trials of Arabella, Briony’s youthful contribution to the
genre of Shakespearean comedy?
18. What sort of closure is this in the context of Briony’s career?
19. What’s the significance of the fact that Briony is suffering from vascular
dementia, which will result in the loss of her memory, and loss of her identity?
20. If you were a novelist, introduce your own variant of ending the story.
21. Imagine yourself being one of the characters; how would you act in
Briony’s | Cecilia’s | Robbie’s place?
22. What ideas, thoughts or feelings have you personally derived from the
novel?
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Writing Activities
There is a list of quotes taken from the novel, choose one you like best and
write an essay (250-500 words) revealing your thoughts and ideas.
9
"A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not
easily mended."
9
"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."
9
"And though you think the world is at your feet, it can rise up and
tread on you."
9
"Falling in love could be achieved in a single word‐‐a glance."
9
"No one knows anything, really. It's all rented, or borrowed."
9
"It was not generally realized that what children mostly wanted was
to be left alone."
9
"That love which does not build a foundation on good sense is
doomed."
9
"It was common enough, to see so much death and want a child.
Common, therefore human, and he wanted it all the more. When the
wounded were screaming, you dreamed of sharing a little house
somewhere, of an ordinary life, a family line, connection."
9
"It is quite impossible these days to assume anything about people's
educational level from the way they talk or dress or from their taste in
music. Safest to treat everyone you meet as a distinguished intellectual."
9
"In Leon's account of his life, no‐one was mean‐spirited, no‐one
schemed or lied or betrayed; everyone was celebrated at least in some
degree...Leon turned out to be a spineless, grinning idiot.
9
“...beauty, she had discovered occupied a narrow band. Ugliness, on
the hand, had infinite variation."
9
“…how deliciously self‐destructive it would be to be married to a man
so nearly handsome, so hugely rich, so unfathomably stupid”.
(http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/2408.Ian_McEwan)
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Reading Reviews
Now after you’ve read and studied the whole novel we can turn to the
reviews published in the most notable and significant editions. Read the
reviews and complete the tasks given after.
Review #1
March 10, 2002
White Lies
By Tom Shone
Ian McEwan's stony-titled new novel, ''Atonement,'' opens with a scene of
pastoral bliss. It is 1935, an English summer is in full swing and parallelograms
of morning light are making their way across the floor of the Tallis family's
country house, where everyone is busy preparing for the return of Leon, the
oldest son. This is exciting news for his younger sister, Briony, who is putting
on a production of her new play. It's not such good news for her older sister,
Cecilia, who will have to face her childhood friend, Robbie, whom she spent
most of her time at Cambridge pointedly ignoring, and secretly falling in love
with. So far, then, ''Atonement'' would seem to have very little to atone for,
unless you were to count an above-average chance of being made into a
Merchant-Ivory film.
This in itself should be enough to have hardened McEwan fans anxiously
flicking back to check that it is indeed his name on the dust jacket. Just a few
novels ago, McEwan was offering useful tips on how best to saw through a
human thigh bone (remove the trousers first), and his last novel, ''Amsterdam,''
which won the 1998 Booker Prize, ended with a mutual euthanasia pact. Try
getting that past Emma Thompson's agent. Yet here is McEwan, at the helm of
what looks suspiciously like the sort of English novel -- irises in full bloom,
young lovers following suit -- that English novelists stopped writing more than
30 years ago.
Gradually, though, a familiar disquiet begins to settle over the novel like dust.
There's that date for a start, four years distant from the onset of the war, but still
a little too close for comfort. Then there's the arrival of Leon's friend, Paul
Marshall, a Quilty-like bore whose gaze lingers on the Tallis girls just that
fraction of a second too long. Then there's the small matter of Briony. Or
perhaps not so small; at 13, Briony stands on the threshold of adolescence, with
all its itchy self-dramatizing instincts and glamorous mood swings.
Contemplating the loss of a favorite dress, ''Briony knew her only reasonable
choice then would be to run away, to live under hedges, eat berries and speak to
no one, and be found by a bearded woodsman one winter's dawn, curled up at
the base of a giant oak, beautiful and dead.''
Such fantasies seem harmless enough, and another novelist might have mined
them for their charm alone, but McEwan has always had an eye on the darker
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veins that course through children's imaginations. His recent book for children,
''The Daydreamer,'' had a nice Roald Dahl-like streak of malice to it, and his
adult fiction has always heeded the close alliance between creative and
destructive impulses. When Briony's plans for her play are derailed, her
dramatic instincts look to feed elsewhere, and they find scandalized sustenance
in glimpsed intimacies between Robbie and Cecilia. Before the night is out, a
crime will be committed, a lie told and a little girl who thought herself the
heroine of her own drama will find herself playing the villain in someone else's.
So much for the soft bloom of innocence.
It would be shame to divulge exactly what happens on that night -- one of the
great things about McEwan is how much faith he has in the urgings of plot. His
books have a natural 45-degree tilt, leaning forward, through a fog of mounting
unease, toward claret-dark revelation. Interestingly, what stays with you
afterward is the unease, not the revelation. Rereading his novel ''Black Dogs''
recently, I remembered that the climax involved some dogs -- black ones, as I
recall -- but couldn't remember what it was the mutts got up to. This is not an
insult; on the contrary, McEwan seems instinctively to have found a perfect
fictional equivalent for the ways and workings of trauma -- for its blind spots
and sneaky obliquities.
The events of that night, for instance, account for only half the plot of
''Atonement'': the rest is reaction, ripple, and repair. When the action reopens a
few years later, Robbie is dodging German shells in France, Cecilia is praying
for his safe return and Briony, now estranged from the both of them and
working as a nurse, is busy piecing together soldiers in a London hospital: ''Here
and there one edge of the ruptured skin rose over the other, revealing its fatty
layers, and little obtrusions like miniature bunches of red grapes forced up from
the fissure.''
Beside inducing an immediate desire to skip lunch, such details serve as a
handy reminder of the Ian McEwan of old -- the McEwan who was dubbed ''Ian
Macabre'' by the British press. They also illustrate how far he has come since
then; his early short-story collections delivered their doses of disquiet neat,
without narrative frill. Set against arid landscapes of urban desiccation, and
beneath a persistent fug of moral rot, his narrators (mostly teenage males)
whiled away their time in feverish fantasy and morbid self-exploration. ''I saw
my first corpse on Thursday,'' begins one story from McEwan's 1978 collection,
''In Between the Sheets.'' Another began, ''Eaters of asparagus know the scent it
lends the urine.''
This tone of sequestered self-disgust -- a Brobdingnagian desire to explore the
innermost crevices of the human body, and by extension, psyche -- is a very
prevalent one in English fiction, at least among young male writers. Most grow
out of it at some point; some never quite shake it off (Martin Amis was still
giggling over excrement gags in his last full-length novel, ''The Information''),
and some, like Will Self, never think to try. But almost from the word go there
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were signs that McEwan was heading somewhere different: there was a moral
pressure behind his sentences, a sense of his turning his radar outward to probe
mental states other than his own. Women played a key part in this socialization
of his talent. In ''The Comfort of Strangers'' he wrote about the intricate
dynamics of a relationship for the first time; in ''The Child in Time'' he
anatomized a marriage broken by the loss of a child and then revitalized by the
birth of another. In both books his male involutes bore an acute sensitivity
toward the feelings of others that is the lucky prerogative of reformed selfobsessives: McEwan's empathy seemed born of his earlier self-absorption.
It was an important fight to win. Many novelists can write about obsession -it goes with the territory, so to speak, chiming with the tunnel vision required to
write in the first place -- but only the best writers can step to one side and see
what obsession looks like from the outside, in all its instantly sobering
foolishness. McEwan can. There is a scene in ''The Innocent,'' for instance, in
which the protagonist -- a repressed Englishman embarking on his first sexual
relationship -- ends up virtually raping his girlfriend. Events accelerate through a
series of misunderstandings; every sign of her resistance he takes to be part of
some mysterious game of sexuality whose rules have hitherto been hidden from
him, and which he rushes to learn. Thus does innocence stumble headlong into
the worst sort of experience, and a mild-mannered man become a shame-faced
rapist.
This is McEwan's specialty: scenes of vertiginous escalation, in which events
skid out of control, first gradually and then wildly, to a point that leaves his
shell-shocked protagonists anxiously replaying those events in their heads to
divine the wrong turn. It is never at the point they think, but invariably the one
several steps back in the chain, or the very chaining of events itself, that is at
fault. McEwan is, in other words, a world-class expert on human violence -- its
rules, roots and reverberations -- and in his more recent work he has set his
diagnostic skills to work on larger confrontations. ''The Innocent'' burrowed
deep into cold war spy games, and ''Black Dogs'' was set against the fall of the
Berlin Wall -- although on occasion these backdrops came across as just that:
geopolitical scrims hung loosely at the back, significance upgrades.
''Atonement'' marks the second time that McEwan has returned to the subject
of World War II -- the great ignored, unignorable subject for a generation of
English novelists, who have on the whole preferred to deal with it obliquely, as
Kazuo Ishiguro did in ''The Remains of the Day.'' You can understand why; to
deal with the war head-on risks having your novel taken aesthetic hostage. But
obliquity is not without its own risks -- namely, that of perusing global upheaval
for its symbolic niceties or chordal thematics.
This time around, McEwan has got it right. He launches a two-pronged attack.
As Robbie is caught up in the long humiliated column of British forces trudging
back to Dunkirk, McEwan keeps his focus tight and hallucinatory. Robbie is half
asleep as he marches, and his consciousness registers a series of roadside details
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-- corpses, craters, a shoe shop, the drone of insects or the more alarming drone
of oncoming German fighters, which sharpen McEwan's prose into some of its
characteristic split-second clarity: ''The broad spray of fire was advancing up the
road at 200 miles an hour, a rattling hailstorm din of cannon rounds hitting metal
and glass. No one inside the near-stationary vehicles had started to react. Drivers
were only just registering the spectacle through their windscreens. They were
where he had been seconds before.''
And then we have Briony's perspective on the results, as she tends to the
wounded and the dying in London, seeking to salve their sundered flesh, in
atonement for the damage she caused as a child. This may sound a little too
symbolic, and it is, but the symbolism is Briony's not McEwan's, and the main
reason she makes such a lousy nurse. Briony's atonement will instead lie
elsewhere, in the fiction she writes at night, designed to ''show separate minds,
as alive as her own, struggling with the idea that other minds were equally alive''
-- a noble aim that receives slight amendment from none other than Cyril
Connolly, who writes, in a gracious rejection letter: ''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.''
Normally, one might balk at this sort of self-product placement: a novelist
lays down, within a novel, aesthetic prescriptions that just happen to be perfectly
embodied by the novel he has just written. But we'll let it pass this once, for the
virtues subscribed to by Briony are a perfect fit for McEwan's: if it's plot,
suspense and a Bergsonian sensitivity to the intricacies of individual
consciousnesses you want, then McEwan is your man and ''Atonement'' your
novel. It is his most complete and compassionate work to date.
Review Questions and Tasks
9 Answer the following questions.
1. Where is the article published? (find short information about the edition)
2. Who is the author? ( find some information about the author of the article)
3. How does McEwan open the novel?
4. What is peculiar about Atonement in comparison with McEwan’s previous
novels?
5. What is special about the plot structure techniques used in Atonement?
6. Why was McEwan nicknamed as “Ian Macabre”?
7. What is the major theme of McEwan’s exploration suggested by the author of
the article?
8. How does McEwan manage to write about ‘obsession’?
9. What is McEwan’s speciality mentioned by the author of the article?
10. How do the time shifts (especially WWII episode) contribute to the novel?
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11. Can you characterize it as mostly positive or negative?
12. What is your impression of the review?
13. Do you agree with the author or not?
9 Match the words taken from the review with their Russian equivalents.
1. pastoral
2. helm
3. disquiet
4. rein
5. sustenance
6. to divulge
7. mutt
8. obliquity
9. dodge
10. rupture
11. fissure
12. frill
13. fug
14. sequester
15. gag
16. vertiginous
17. escalation
18. burrow
19. scrim
20. salve
1. пастораль
2. поводья\власть
3. разглашать
4. глупец
5. прорыв\ разрыв
6. бальзам\лесть
7. расширять,
обострять
8. уловка
9. изолировать
10. скупиться
11. шутка
12. духота
13. трещина
14. пещера
15. головокружительный
16. одинокий
17. преступность
18. руль
19. беспокойство
20. питание
9 Make sure you know the writers the author of the review refers to.
• Martin Amis
• Will Self
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Review #2
The Lies Of Novelists. - Atonement - book review.
Commonweal, May 3, 2002 by Edward T. Wheeler
English writer Ian McEwan has built his house of fiction in traditional
patterns, seemingly avoiding forms of postmodern construction. In his novels,
stories, and plays, McEwan has distinguished himself with ease of style, acute
rendering of character, and remarkable images. His unnerving fictional worlds
indulge in fatal masochistic tastes: a corpse in concrete in the cellar, a spectral
hound baying evil beyond the garden, or the ghost of a lost child calling out for
return. His latest novel, Atonement, is no exception. A challenging and brilliant
work, it rewards careful attention to the writer's art.
Atonement presents itself as realistic fiction, yet begins with an epigraph from
Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey warning us that the young heroine is intent on
misperception. Wealthy, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis is blessed, or perhaps
cursed, with a vivid imagination, seeing gothic horrors in apparent
commonplaces. The novel takes up the nocturnal crime she commits in the
garden of her English country home after the hottest day in the summer of 1935.
How a trivial dinner party spikes to crisis is the tease. In her attempts to put
on a play she has written, Briony casts an innocent family friend as child rapist.
This, McEwan is at pains to elaborate, is initially done without malice; but
increasingly and self-consciously, it becomes an enveloping fabrication that
must be maintained for consistency's sake.
McEwan narrates from a variety of perspectives and points in time. The
reader is told there is a crime to be committed, and that in the future characters
will look back on the occasion as the most significant in their lives. The act, the
accusation, and the police procedural all happen off stage. The narrative offers
us retrospection and introspection, a looking-back on what Briony has done.
Seen in the book's concluding third part as an elderly, successful novelist,
Briony has a sense of audience that forces her to consider her reader's
expectation--be it novel or statement sworn in evidence to the police. If she is to
atone, it will be through her writing. The second of the novel's three parts,
meanwhile, offers fictional rebuttal of the false accusation, as the victim of
Briony's crime goes on to distinguish himself in the British Expeditionary
Force's retreat to Dunkirk. As impressive an evocation of World War II as one
would wish to read, this section adds a remarkable new dimension to McEwan's
range.
Atonement repeatedly emphasizes the adolescent protagonist's will to control
her life. In McEwan's hands, the intention and the act of the crime come from an
imaginative impulse inextricably linked with the novelist's art. For Briony this is
both a projection of what she wishes to be in the future (as a child when she
composes her future self) and an atonement for what she did in the past. What is
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realistic about the novel is constantly undercut by our sense of a "made"
fictional world elaborately constructed by the protagonist/narrator Briony. As a
result, we enter McEwan's house of fiction very much on the author's terms. As
host, McEwan presents himself as guilty of the crime committed by his
character, conflating fact and fiction, pushing us to consider the relationship
between artistic imagination and truth of life. The careful structuring of the work
calls attention to its artifice and reminds us of two alternate assertions about
what art does: Keats's Romantic assurance that artistic beauty is truth and
Auden's disclaimer that poetry makes nothing happen. This novel shows how
such seemingly contradictory statements can both be true at once. Atonement is
a most impressive book, one that may indeed be McEwan's finest achievement.
Edward T. Wheeler is dean of the faculty at the Williams School in New
London, Connecticut.
Review Questions and Tasks
9 Answer the following questions.
1. Where is the article published? (find short information about the edition)
2. Who is the author? ( find some information about the author of the article)
3. How can we characterize the style of Ian McEwan?
4. How does the author of the article review the main character of the novel,
Briony Tallis?
5. What is peculiar about the narrative techniques used implemented by the
author of the novel?
6. How does McEwan manage to depict the episodes of World War II?
7. What is the main point emphasized by McEwan in the novel according to the
author of the article?
8. How did McEwan succeed in introducing the realistic and at the same time
fictional world in his novel?
9. Do you agree with the author or not?
9 Match the words taken from the review with the equivalents.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
to bay
to conflate
artifice
to elaborate
fabrication
consistency
rebuttal
retreat
evocation
1. воскрешение в
памяти
2. объединять
3. преследовать
4. развивать
5. уловка
6. выдумка
7. избегать
8. опровержение
9. соответствие
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Watching Atonement
Joe Wright, the BAFTA Award-winning director of "Pride & Prejudice,"
reunited with his filmmaking team and Academy Award-nominated actress,
Keira Knightley, for this classic British romance, starring James McAvoy
(BAFTA Award nominee for "The Last King of Scotland") opposite Ms.
Knightley.
Christopher Hampton (Academy Award winner for "Dangerous Liaisons")
wrote the screenplay adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling 2001 novel
"Atonement." Shot on location in the U.K., the film's story spans several
decades. In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and
her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the
warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse
atmosphere, stoking Brionys vivid imagination. Robbie Turner (McAvoy), the
educated son of the familys housekeeper, carries a torch for Brionys headstrong
older sister Cecilia (Knightley). Cecilia, he hopes, has comparable feelings; all it
will take is one spark for this relationship to combust. When it does, Briony,
who has a crush on Robbie, is compelled to interfere, going so far as accusing
Robbie of a crime he did not commit.
Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but he is arrested and
with Briony bearing false witness, the course of three lives is changed forever.
Briony continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed. Through a
terrible and courageous act of imagination, she finds the path to her uncertain
atonement, and to an understanding of the power of enduring love.
(http://www.forumcinemas.lv)
CAST
James McAvoy - Robbie Turner
Keira Knightley - Cecilia Tallis
Saoirse Ronan - Briony Tallis - Age 13
Romola Garai - Briony Tallis - Age 18
Vanessa Redgrave - Older Briony
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After Watching Activities
9
Answer the following questions.
1. Did the film meet your expectations?
2. Do you think that the director managed to recreate the atmosphere of the
novel?
3. Do you agree with the choice of the actors playing leading parts?
4. Did the actors manage to reproduce the images from the novel?
5. Would you suggest any alternatives to the cast?
6. In the film, what cinematic techniques does the director use to convey
Briony’s perception of the happening to the audience?
7. To what extent is it possible to compare cinematic techniques used in the
film with literary ones used in the novel?
8. Have you noticed any discrepancy between the novel and the film?
9. How did the director manage the double ending of the story?
10. Was the emotional effect stronger in the film or in the book?
11. Generally speaking, did you like this film adaptation?
12. What version in your opinion is emotionally and contextually impressive,
a book or video one?
13. Can you give any examples of other book adaptations you like or have
recently watched?
9
Fill the gaps in the script with the words given below.
EXT. DUDLEY VILLAS IN BALHAM. DAY.
BRIONY
I’m looking for Miss Tallis. Cecilia Tallis. 1)_____
MRS. JARVIS
Tallis! Door!
CECILIA
My God.
BRIONY
I tried writing, but you wouldn’t answer. I have to
talk to you.
BRIONY
So you’re 2)_____now?
CECILIA
Yes.
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BRIONY
I want to go in front of a 3)_____and change my
4)____, Cee.
CECILIA
Don’t call me that!
BRIONY
What I did was terrible, I don’t expect you to
5)_____me.
CECILIA
Don’t worry, I won’t.
You’re an 6)_______, they’d never 7)_____the 8)_____.
BRIONY
Well at least I can tell everyone else, I’ll go home,
explain to Mummy and Daddy and...
CECILIA
What’s stopping you?
BRIONY
I wanted to see you first.
CECILIA
They don’t want to know. That unpleasantness is all
tidied away in the past, thank you very much.
ROBBIE
What is she doing here?
CECILIA
She came to speak to me.
ROBBIE
Oh, yes? What about?
BRIONY
The terrible thing I did.
ROBBIE
I’ll be quite honest with you. I’m 9)______between
10) ______here and 11)______you down the stairs. Have
you any idea what it’s like in 12)_____? Course you
don’t. Tell me, did it give you pleasure to think of
me inside?
BRIONY
No.
ROBBIE
But you did nothing about it.
BRIONY
No.
ROBBIE
Do you think I 13)_____your cousin?
BRIONY
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No.
ROBBIE
Did you think it then?
BRIONY
Yes, yes and no. I wasn’t certain.
ROBBIE
And what’s made you so certain now?
BRIONY
Growing up.
ROBBIE
Growing up?
BRIONY
I was thirteen.
ROBBIE
How old do you have to be before you know the
difference between right and wrong? Do you have to be
eighteen before you can own up to a lie? There are
soldiers of eighteen old enough to be left to die on
the side of the road! Did you know that?
BRIONY
Yes.
ROBBIE
Five years ago you didn’t care about telling the
truth. You and all your family, you just
14)______that for all
my education, I was still little better than a
15)_____, still not to be trusted. Thanks to you,
they were able
to close ranks and throw me to the fucking wolves.
CECILIA
Robbie. Robbie, don’t. Please.
CECILIA
Briony.
ROBBIE
You’ll go to your parents as soon as you can and tell
them everything they need to know to 16)____that your
evidence was 17)_____. You’ll go and see a 18)______
and make a 19)______and have it 20)_______and
21)_______and send copies to us. Is that clear?
BRIONY
Yes.
ROBBIE
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Then you’ll write a detailed letter to me, explaining
everything that led up to you saying you saw me by
the lake.
CECILIA
Try and include whatever you can remember of what
Danny Hardman was doing that night.
BRIONY
It wasn’t Danny Hardman. It was Leon’s
friend,22)______.
CECILIA
I don’t believe you.
BRIONY
He’s married 23)______; I’ve just come from their
wedding.
CECILIA
Lola won’t be able to 24)_____against him now. He’s
25)______.
BRIONY
I’m very, very sorry to have caused you all this
terrible 26)______. I am very, very sorry.
ROBBIE
Just do what we’ve asked of you. Write it all down.
BRIONY
I will. I promise. She leaves 27)_______, her eyes
28)______with tears.
(Hampton, Christopher, “Atonement”, original shooting script, 2000)
1.
a ward sister
15.
solicitor
2.
is she in?
16.
witnessed
3.
unreliable witness
17.
testify
4.
forgive
18.
signed
5.
immune
19.
statement
6.
throwing
20.
Lola
7.
re-open
21.
servant
8.
judge
22.
false
9.
case
23.
Marshall
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10.
breaking your neck
24.
be convinced
11.
assaulted
25.
assumed
12.
torn
26.
abruptly
13.
jail
27.
distress
14.
evidence
28.
brimming
Theatrical Reading
Here are three episodes taken from the Atonement original screen play,
choose one and prepare it for semi-theatrical staging (standing or seated
before the audience, depending on the scene. You need to choose a part and
present it with genuine expression).
Scene #1
INT. NURSERY. DAY.
Rehearsals are taking place in a now disused room on
the top floor, the former nursery, occupying the
front corner of the house. BRIONY has wedged herself
into an old high chair and looks down at her redheaded cousins: LOLA QUINCEY, 15, and her twin 9
year-old brothers, PIERROT and JACKSON. They’re all
clutching handwritten copies of BRIONY’s play.
JACKSON
Do we have to do a play?
PIERROT
Why do we have to?
BRIONY
It’s to celebrate my brother Leon’s visit.
PIERROT
I hate plays.
JACKSON
So do I.
BRIONY
How can you hate plays?
PIERROT
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It’s just showing off.
LOLA crosses her legs, revealing an ankle bracelet
above her sandals, and a set of brightly painted
toenails; she speaks quite calmly.
LOLA
You’ll be in this play or you’ll get a clout and
I’ll tell the Parents.
JACKSON
You’re not allowed to clout us.
LOLA
We’re guests in this house and what did the Parents
say we were to make ourselves? Well? Pierrot?
PIERROT
Amenable.
LOLA
Jackson?
JACKSON
Amenable.
LOLA
Amenable, that’s right.
She turns graciously to BRIONY.
LOLA
Now, Briony, what’s your play about?
BRIONY
It’s about how... love is all very well, but you
have to be sensible.
LOLA frowns, dubious.
LOLA
I suppose you’re going to be Arabella.
BRIONY
Well... Not necessarily.
She’s been surprised into this, but LOLA takes
immediate ruthless advantage.
LOLA
In that case, do you mind if I play her?
JACKSON
Lola was in the school play.
LOLA
Do say yes, it’d be the first decent
thing to happen to me in months.
BRIONY can’t see any way to get out of it.
BRIONY
Well... all right.
LOLA
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I suppose we should start by reading it...
BRIONY
If you’re going to be Arabella, then I’ll be the
director, thank you very much.
LOLA
Sorr-ee!
BRIONY
I’m going to do the prologue.
She looks down and
begins reading.
Scene #2
INT. NURSERY. DAY.
LOLA,
PIERROT
and
JACKSON
are
hanging
about
aimlessly, already at a loss as to what to do.
JACKSON
When can we go home?
LOLA
Soon.
PIERROT
We can’t go home: it’s a divorce!
LOLA
How dare you say that?
PIERROT
Well, it’s true.
LOLA grabs PIERROT by the shoulders and shakes him.
LOLA
You will never ever use that word again. Do you
understand?
PIERROT nods miserably. Eventually, JACKSON breaks
the silence.
JACKSON
Now what are we going to do?
MARSHALL (O.S.)
I’m always asking myself that.
They’re all startled by PAUL MARSHALL’s sudden
appearance in the doorway. He advances into the
room, hand extended.
MARSHALL
My name’s Paul Marshall. And you must be the cousins
from the north. What are your names?
They tell him, as he shakes hands with them.
MARSHALL
What marvellous names.
JACKSON
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Do you know our parents?
MARSHALL
Well, I’ve read about them in the paper.
This causes consternation,from which LOLA is the
first to recover.
LOLA
What exactly have you read about them?
MARSHALL realizes it may be time to back-pedal.
MARSHALL
Oh, I don’t know. Usual sort of nonsense.
LOLA
I’ll thank you not to talk about this in front of
the children.
MARSHALL turns to the TWINS and speaks with
glutinous solemnity.
MARSHALL
Your parents are absolutely wonderful people, that’s
quite clear and they love you and think about you
all the time.
LOLA’s expression changes; he’s successfully appease
her and follows swiftly through with a compliment.
MARSHALL
Jolly nice slacks.
LOLA smooths them down, visibly pleased.
LOLA
We went up to see a show and got them at Liberty’s.
MARSHALL
What was the show?
LOLA
Hamlet.
MARSHALL
Ah, yes: to be or not to be.
LOLA
I like your shoes.
MARSHALL tilts his brown and white co-respondent
shoes, serenely self-satisfied.
MARSHALL
Ducker’s in the Turl. They make a... wooden thing
shaped like your foot and keep it for ever.
PIERROT
I’m starving, when’s dinner?
MARSHALL
I might be able to help you out, if you can guess
what I do for a living.
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JACKSON
You’ve got a chocolate factory.
PIERROT
Everyone knows that.
MARSHALL
Ah, so it wasn’t a guess.
He takes a slab of something wrapped in greaseproof
paper out of his pocket and unwraps it to reveal a
shell of khaki sugar which he taps with his
fingernail.
MARSHALL
There’ll be one of these provided in every kitbag of
every soldier in the British Army. Sugar casing so
It won’t melt.
PIERROT
Why should they get free sweets?
MARSHALL
Because they’ll be fighting for their country.
JACKSON
Our Daddy says there isn’t going to be a war.
MARSHALL
Your Daddy is wrong.
He’s snapped at the boy, and now smiles wolfishly in
an attempt to make amends.
MARSHALL
We’re calling it the Army Amo.
LOLA
Amo amas amat.
MARSHALL
Top marks.
PIERROT
It’s boring how everything ends in O. Polo and Aero.
JACKSON
And Oxo and Brillo.
MARSHALL
Sounds as if you don’t want it then. I shall have to
give it to your sister.
Which he does. She takes it, smiling triumphantly at
the disappointed TWINS. She glances flirtatiously at
MARSHALL, who watches with frank interest as she
wraps her lips around the end of the bar. His voice
is soft and breathy.
MARSHALL
Bite it. You have to bite it.
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Scene #3
EXT. GROTTO. NIGHT.
LOLA’S voice breaks the silence.
LOLA
Briony?
BRIONY
Lola. Are you all right?
LOLA
I’m sorry, I didn’t, I’m sorry...
BRIONY puts her arm round LOLA’s bony shoulders; she
seems strangely invigorated.
BRIONY
Who was it?
LOLA doesn’t answer. She’s sitting up now, her arms
wrapped round her knees, rocking slightly. They talk
in whispers.
BRIONY
I saw him. I saw him.
LOLA
Yes.
BRIONY
It was him, wasn’t it?
LOLA
Yes. It was him.
BRIONY
Lola... Who was it?
LOLA doesn’t answer.
BRIONY
It was Robbie, wasn’t it?
Silence.
BRIONY
Robbie.
LOLA
You saw him.
BRIONY
Like you said, he’s a sex maniac. And you don’t even
know what happened before dinner. I caught him
attacking my sister in the library. I don’t know
what he’d have done, if I hadn’t come in...
LOLA
You actually saw him.
BRIONY
Of course I did. Plain as day.
LOLA
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He came up behind me. He pushed me to the ground and
then he put his hand over my eyes. I couldn’t
actually, I never actually...
BRIONY
Listen, I’ve known him all my life.
And I saw him.
LOLA
Because I couldn’t say for sure.
BRIONY
Well, I can. And I will.
(Hampton, Christopher, “Atonement”, original shooting script, 2000)
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Reading Reviews
Now after you’ve watched and studied the film we can turn to its reviews
published in the most notable and significant editions. Read the reviews
and complete the tasks given after.
Review #1
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, Friday 7 September 2007
1. Atonement
2. Production year: 2007
3. Country: UK
4. Cert (UK): 15
5. Runtime: 122 mins
6. Directors: Joe Wright
7. Cast: Brenda Blethyn, James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai,
Romola Gurai, Saoirse Ronan
There are moments - delirious, languorous, romantic moments - when this
film appears to have the lineaments of a classic. Yet could it be that its epic,
haunting story of tragic love in the Second World War is too oblique and
opaque, with too complex an enigma at its heart, to press the right commercial
buttons?
I hope not. This is Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the 2001 novel by Ian
McEwan that was his breakthrough into serious bestsellerdom, and, it is widely
believed, raised him above the Amis-McEwan-Barnes triumvirate into a premier
league of his own: the greatest living English novelist.
Well, Hampton and director Joe Wright have certainly done McEwan proud
with this lavish and spectacular screen version: they are really thinking big, in
every sense, and the result is exhilarating. The gobsmacking sequence at
Dunkirk in 1940 justifies the price of admission on its own, featuring an
extraordinary travelling shot through the violence and chaos of angry soldiers
stranded on the beach. Digitally assisted this may have been, but what a
spectacle none the less. They say directing a film is like commanding an army.
With his second feature film, 35-year-old Joe Wright has done more than
enough to earn his general's uniform.
Atonement is the story of a single, tragic error: an error on the part of
someone who is almost, but not quite, too young to know what she is doing. It is
an error that radically alters the destinies of three adults: it is not precisely
accidental, not exactly comprehensible and, like the flaw in Henry James's
Golden Bowl, remains an enigma, resisting complete explanation until the very
last.
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The three principals in this mysterious tragedy are firstly Cecilia Turner,
played with angular, flapperish poise by Keira Knightley. She is a beautiful
young woman who is whiling away a baking hot summer in the grounds of her
family's spectacular Brideshead-type mansion, at one point sporting an
impossibly white bathing costume and pristine matching hat fastened under the
chin, sprawled on the diving board like an Anglo-Saxon Esther Williams.
James McAvoy is Robbie, the son of the local groundsman, a bright boy to
whom Cecilia's father took a shine after Robbie's father ran out on them, and
who has been allowed great familiarity with Cecilia.
And then there is Cecilia's super-bright younger sister Briony, with a secret
crush on Robbie. Her overactive imagination is to be the ruin, and then the
disputed salvation, of them all. At 13, she is played by Saoirse Ronan; at 18, by
Romola Garai; and then, as an old woman, by Vanessa Redgrave.
It is a scene as hot and sensual as that in LP Hartley's Go-Between. During a
summer weekend party in 1935, 13-year-old Briony is much put out when a
precocious fantasy-romance playlet she has written will not be performed, as she
had hoped. She has a frustrated need for drama - drama of her own devising. It is
then she witnesses a strange distant scene from her bedroom window. Robbie
and Cecilia appear to be in heated conversation by the stone fountain. Then
Cecilia takes off most of her clothes, dives under the water and disappears for
some seconds. Whatever can it mean?
Briony, who has recently had a watery experience of her own with Robbie, is
pretty sure she knows what it means. A replay of the scene at close quarters
provides us with the explanation denied to Briony, and yet has she
misinterpreted this spectacle? Has she, in fact, correctly intuited its
implications?
Later, Briony is to see evidence which admits of no variant explanation - a
pornographic love-note, a passionate embrace - and yet it is this mysterious
scene by the fountain that is to trigger Briony's terrible, misguided sense that she
has a personal insight and a personal grievance; it appears to give her an access
point into shocking adult phenomena which would otherwise simply stun her
into silence. It emboldens this young would-be writer to revise and rewrite
reality to her own specifications. And she tells a wicked lie that is to change
everything.
When war comes, Joe Wright's direction takes Cecilia and Briony on a great
surging sweep to shattered London, where they train to be nurses, looking after
the wounded. Robbie goes to war, as a humble private, where in northern France
he is to encounter the chaos of Dunkirk and the fear, anger and panic of that
debacle, which was to be obliterated from the official record - though the
depiction of Dunkirk is rather less bleak in the movie than in McEwan's novel.
Later, as a famous writer, Briony is to confront the terrible truths about
herself with an autobiographical novel and asks if it is morally meaningful to
enact atonement in her heart - and in her art.
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Is that the seed of all literary fiction? An attempted re-alignment of some
secret wrongness in the author's life? Does it mean anything simply to recognise
the terrible mass of wrongdoing, and to imagine what could have been done to
put it right, at least partly? After all, the pain of the crime is mortal; its
redemptive transformation into great art will live forever. It is with this question
that the movie pulls off an audacious narrative trick in a brilliant central scene
between the three principals: like a skilled judo fighter, the movie uses the
weight of our expectations against us. As the truth about this scene dawns, we
question everything that we have seen.
What a clever, ambitious, compassionate picture it is; what a success for Joe
Wright and for Knightley and McAvoy - though it is probably in the long,
languid wordless summery scenes at the beginning that the film works best. It's
a film which aims at big ideas, and it treats us like grownups.
Review Questions and Tasks
9 Answer the following questions.
1. Where is the article published? (find short information about the edition)
2. Who is the author? (find some information about the author of the article,
3. How does the author of the review generally characterize the film?
4. According to Peter Bradshaw what is the Atonement story of?
6. How does the author treat the war episodes in the film and in the book?
7. What director’s trick was mentioned by Peter Bradshaw?
8. How is the actors’ performance described?
9. Do you agree with the statement given by the author of the review that the
core of Atonement both the book and the film is “An attempted re-alignment of
some secret wrongness in the author's life”?
10. How can you characterize this review as mostly positive or negative?
11. What is your impression of the review?
12. Do you agree with the author or not? Why?
9 Match the words taken from the review with their Russian equivalents.
1. delirious
2. languorous
3. lineaments
4. exhilarating
5. gobsmacking
6. precocious
7. intuit
8. grievance
9. embolden
10. redemptive
1. искупительный
2. подбодрять \
3. бодрящий
4. вялый \ томный
5. ошеломляющий
6. бредовый
7. преждевременный
8. обида \ жалоба
9. характерные черты
10. постигать интуитивно
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9 Define all the meanings of the following words and illustrate them in the
sentences of your own.
opaque (5 meanings)
angular ( 4 meanings)
flapper (8 meanings)
debacle (4 meanings)
obliterate ( 3 meanings)
audacious ( 4 meanings)
Review # 2
Lies, Guilt, Stiff Upper Lips
By A. O. SCOTT
The New York Times
Published: December 7, 2007
Joe Wright’s ‘Atonement’ begins in the endlessly photogenic, thematically
pregnant interwar period. The setting is a rambling old British country estate
where trim dinner jackets and shimmering silk dresses are worn; cigarettes are
smoked with sharp inhalations that create perfect concavities of cheekbone; and
the air is thick with class tension and sexual anxiety. Heavy clouds are gathering
on the geopolitical horizon, which lends a special poignancy to the domestic
comings and goings. This charged, hardly unfamiliar atmosphere provides, in
the first section of the film, some decent, suspenseful fun, a rush of incident and
implication. Boxy cars rolling up the drive; whispers of scandal and family
secrets; coitus interruptus in the library, all set to the implacable rhythm of
typewriter keys.
Two characters make significant use of a typewriter one is an aspiring
playwright, the other a yearning rural swain but the sound of the machine is coopted by Dario Marianelli, who wrote the movie’s score and who conjoins the
clack-clacking of mechanical composition with the steady plink of a repeated
piano note. At a climactic moment Brenda Blethyn, who can be as subtle an
actress as Mr. Marianelli is a composer, leaps screaming from the darkness and
begins beating on the hood of a car with an umbrella, a tocsin that joins the plink
and the clack in a small symphony of literal-minded irrelevance.
That pretty much describes the rest of ‘Atonement’, piously rendered by the
screenwriter Christopher Hampton from Ian McEwan’s novel. This is not a bad
literary adaptation; it is too handsomely shot and Britishly acted to warrant such
strong condemnation.
‘Atonement’ is, instead, an almost classical example of how pointless, how
diminishing, the transmutation of literature into film can be. The respect that Mr.
Wright and Mr. Hampton show to Mr. McEwan is no doubt gratifying to him,
but it is fatal to their own project.
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Unlike Mr. Wright’s brisk, romantic film version of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and
Prejudice’, ‘Atonement’ fails to be anything more than a decorous, heavily
decorated and ultimately superficial reading of the book on which it is based.
Mr. McEwan’s prose pulls you in immediately and drags you through an
intricate, unsettling story, releasing you in a shaken, wrung-out state. The film,
after a tantalizing start, sputters to a halt in a welter of grandiose imagery and
hurtling montage.
Keira Knightley, who also starred in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, plays Cecilia
Tallis, a rich girl who discovers she is loved by and in love with Robbie (James
McAvoy), the son of one of her family’s servants. Their furtive, ardent courtship
is observed by Cecilia’s younger sister, Briony (played at 13 by the remarkably
poised Saoirse Ronan pronounced SEER-Sha), whose combination of precocity
and confusion precipitates a household catastrophe.
A bigger one arrives in the form of World War II, and it is here, in the
transition from hothouse psychodrama to historical pseudo-epic, that
‘Atonement’ runs aground, losing dramatic coherence and intellectual focus.
Romola Garai has taken over the role of Briony (in a coda, she will age
gracefully into Vanessa Redgrave), who works as a nurse in London. Cecilia
now estranged from the family, does similar duty, and Robbie stumbles toward
the beach at Dunkirk.
There are some powerful images of scared and tired soldiers in France, of
bloody wounds and shattered limbs in London but the film’s treatment of the
war has a detached, secondhand feeling. And even the most impressive
sequences have an empty, arty virtuosity. The impression left by a long,
complicated battlefield tracking shot is pretty much Wow, that’s quite a tracking
shot, when it should be My God, what a horrible experience that must have
been.
The main casualty of the film’s long, murky middle and end sections is the
big moral theme and also the ingenious formal gimmick that provides the book
with some of its intensity and much of its cachet. As the title suggests,
‘Atonement’ is fundamentally about guilt and the attempt to overcome it, and
about the tricky, tragically imperfect power of art to compensate for real-life
crimes and misdemeanors.
Without giving too much away, I will say that the power of the story depends
on its believability, on the audience’s ability to perceive Robbie and Cecilia in
wartime as suffering, flesh-and-blood creatures. Mr. McAvoy and Ms.
Knightley sigh and swoon credibly enough, but they are stymied by the inertia
of the filmmaking, and by the film’s failure to find a strong connection between
the fates of the characters and the ideas and historical events that swirl around
them.
‘Atonement’ is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult
guardian). It has sexual situations and graphic combat violence.
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Review Questions and Tasks
9 Answer the following questions.
1.
Where is the article published? (find short information about the edition)
2.
Who is the author? (find some information about the author of the article).
3.
How is the film setting described by the author of the review?
4.
How does the author of the review generally characterize the adaptation of
the novel?
5.
What are the discrepancies mentioned by the author?
6.
How does A.O. Scott treat the war episodes in the film and in the book?
7.
According to A.O. Scott what is Atonement about?
8.
How is the acting described by the author of the review?
9.
Do you agree with the rating given to the film?
10. How can you characterize this review as mostly positive or negative?
11. What is your impression of the review?
12. Do you agree with the author or not? Why?
9
Match the words taken from the review with their Russian equivalents.
1. implacable
2. clacking
3. tocsin
4. warrant
5. piously
6. condemnation
7. wring-out
8. tantalizing
9. welter
10. gimmick
11. cachet
12. estrange
13. stymie
14. inertia
1. ордер \ основание
2. набожный \ ханжеский
3. привлекательный
4. беспорядок \ сумбур
5. суровый
6. бездеятельность
7. уловка \ новизна
8. загонять в тупик
9. набат (колокол)
10. вымогать
11. признак
12. отдалять
13. осуждение
14. трещать \ болтать
9
Define all the meanings of the following words and illustrate them in
the sentences of your own.
rambling (4 meanings)
trim ( 7 meanings)
poignancy (3 meanings)
sputter (4 meanings)
furtive ( 4 meanings)
ardent ( 3 meanings)
murky (4 meanings)
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Writing Activities
You have read the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan and watched the film
directed by Joe Wright and now you have a chance to express your opinion
in an essay form and say what you liked most, the book or the film, what
impressed you to fuller extent; give reasons and share your feelings and
ideas.
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Instead of an Afterword
You’ve read and analyzed the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, studied a
lot of materials and now you can make this playful quiz to check yourself.
1. What was the name of the play Briony writes?
1. Northanger Abbey
2. Book of Common Prayer
3. Two Figures by a Fountain
4. The Trials of Arabella
2. Why are Lola, Jackson, and Pierrot Quincey coming to the Tallis estate
for the summer?
1. Their parents are getting a divorce
2. To see Leon at his homecoming dinner
3. Their father died in the war and their mother is grieving
4. To perform in Briony's play
3. Who gets to play Arabella in Briony's play?
1. Briony
2. Cecilia
3. Lola
4. Emily
4. Who does Briony write her play for?
1. Robbie Turner
2. Cecilia
3. Leon
4. Her cousins
5. What country do the Tallises live in?
1. America
2. England
3. Scotland
4. France
6. Where did Cecilia attend university?
1. Cambridge
2. Oxford
3. Harvard
4. She didn't
7. Why is the vase so important to the Tallis family?
1. It was a relic brought back from WWI
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2. It was a gift from Robbie Turner to Cecilia
3. It was Jack Tallis's great great grandfather's
4. Uncle Clem made it when visiting Belgium
8. What does Cecilia do when the vase breaks into the fountain?
1. Yells at Robbie and orders him to fish out the broken piece
2. Becomes angry and silent and storms off into the house
3. Tosses the rest of the vase at Robbie, smashing it entirely
4. Disrobes and goes swimming for the broken piece
9. While at university together, Robbie and Cecilia:
1. Ran in different circles and barely spoke
2. Were bitter enemies who avoided each other at all times
3. Were romantic lovers, the perfect couple of the university
4. Were best friends, attached at the hip
10. Who is coming to dinner from London along with Leon?
1. Danny Hardman
2. Paul Marshall
3. Robbie Turner
4. Jack Tallis
11. What year does the opening part of the book take place?
1. 1935
2. 1936
3. 1939
4. 1940
12. When Briony decides to abandon her play, what does she want to do for
Leon instead?
1. Write a story
2. Play the piano
3. Put on a magic show
4. Do a dance
13. When Briony witnesses the scene at the fountain between Robbie and
Cecilia, she assumes:
1. Robbie has just saved Cecilia from drowning
2. Robbie has thrown Cecilia in the water in fun
3. Robbie is threatening/holding command over Cecilia
4. Robbie and Cecilia have been swimming because it is so hot out
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14. To a lot of people in the story, Robbie is not suited for Cecilia because,
1. He has to fight in the war, she is a nurse
2. He has no education, she is a Cambridge graduate
3. He is a convicted felon
4. He is the son of a servant, she is the daughter of high society
15. What event causes Briony to conclude: "This was not a fairy tale, this
was the real, the adult world in which frogs did not address princesses..."
1. Seeing Cecilia and Robbie at the fountain
2. Witnessing Lola being raped
3. Reading the letter Robbie sends to Cecilia that contains the "c" word
4. Walking in on Cecilia and Robbie in the study
16. What did Cecilia use to say to comfort Briony after nightmares?
1. Wake up
2. Don't worry
3. Come back
4. It's going to be alright
17. When Cecilia sees Danny Hardman carrying Paul Marshall's luggage,
she notices his maturity and wonders:
1. If him and Briony are plotting something devious
2. If he is having perverted thoughts about herself
3. If he has an attraction to Lola
4. If he is the one that broke the vase
18. Cecilia thinks marrying Paul Marshall would be:
1. Self-destructive
2. Romantically divine
3. A giant financial success
4. Socially glorious
19. What industry has Paul Marshall getting rich?
1. Chocolate
2. Stocks and investments
3. Weapons
4. Fighter planes
20. When Cecilia learns Leon has invited Robbie to dinner, what is her
reaction?
1. She is annoyed
2. She is worried
3. She is scared
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4. She is delighted
21. Who is caught watching the Quincey children in the nursery when they
are arguing about divorce?
1. Danny Hardman
2. Paul Marshall
3. Robbie Turner
4. Leon Tallis
22. Paul Marshall compares Lola with?
1. MacBeth
2. A child too immature to keep company with
3. Arabella
4. A pre-Raphaellite Princess
23. What does Lola ask Paul Marshall not to talk about "in front of the
children?"
1. Chocolate
2. The war
3. Their parents
4. The play
24. When Briony decides there will be no play, where does she go?
1. To the library/study
2. To her room
3. To the temple/lake
4. To the Turner cabin
25. Who ensures the Quincey children that "there will be a war?"
1. Briony
2. Paul Marshall
3. Cecilia
4. Leon Tallis
Check Yourself!
1-4, 2-1, 3-3, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1, 7-1, 8-4, 9-1, 10-2, 11-1, 12-1, 13-4, 14- 4, 15-1,
16-3, 17-3, 18-1,19-1,20-1, 21-1, 22-4, 23-3, 24-2, 25-2
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References
This section contains references to work cited in the texts and follow-up
activities that supplement them.
Books
1. Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. New York: Routledge, 2000.
2. Arnold, I.V. Stylistics. Moscow, 2002.
3. Auden, W.H. Selected Poems. Vintage, 2007.
4. Childs, Peter. The fiction of Ian McEwan: A Reader’s Guide to Essential
Criticism, 2006.
5. Childs, Peter. Contemporary Novelists: British Fiction since 1970. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
6. Freeborn, Dennis. Style: Text Analysis and Linguistic Criticism. Macmillan,
1996.
7. Genette, Gerard. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, 1980.
8. Hutcheon, Linda. Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction.
London: Routledge, 2004.
9. Kermode, Frank. ‘Point of View’. London Review Book, October 2001.
10. Lewis, Barry. Postmodernism and Literature. The Routledge Companion to
Postmodernism NY: Routledge, 2002.
11. Lodge, David. The Art of Fiction. Penguin Group USA, 1992.
12. Malcolm, David. Understanding Ian McEwan. Columbia: South Carolina
Press, 2002.
13. McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge, 2001.
14. Ryan, Kiernan. Ian McEwan. Plymouth: Northcote House, 1994.
15. Sybil, Marcus. A World of Fiction. Pearson ESL , 2006.
Articles and essays
1. Amiran, Eyal and Unsworth. John. Essays in Postmodern Culture. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
2. Kohn, Robert E. The Fivesquare Amsterdam of Ian McEwan. Critical
Suevey. 2004.
3. Dyer, Geoff. "Who's Afraid of Violence?" Rev. of Atonement, by Ian
McEwan. Guardian, September 2001.
4. Messud, Claire. ‘The Beauty of the Conjuring’. The Atlantic Monthly,
March 2002.
5. Berleant, Arnold. The Verbal Presence: Aesthetics of Literary Performance.
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, New York, 1973.
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6. Riffaterre, Michael. Essais de stylistique structurale. Translated with an
Introduction by Daniel Delas. Paris: Flammarion, 1971.
7. Mullan, John. “Elements of Fiction: Turning up the Heat”. The Guardian,
March 2003.
Reviews and criticism
1. Bradshaw, Peter. Atonement, Film Review. The Guardian, September 2007.
2. Scott, A.O. “Lies, Guilt, Stiff Upper Lips”. The New York Times, December,
2007.
3. Wood, James. ’The Trick of Truth’. The New Republic, March, 2002.
4. Shone, Tom. White Lies. New York Times, March 10, 2002.
5. Wheeler, T. Edward. The Lies of Novelists. Commonweal, May 2002.
Interviews
1. Haffenden, John. Novelists in Interview. London: Methuen, 1985.
2. Reynolds, Margaret; Noakes, Jonathan. “Interview with Ian McEwan” in Ian
McEwan: The Essential Guide. Great Britain: Vintage, 2002.
Dictionaries
1. A Dictionary of Stylistics. Katie Wales. Longman Publishing Group, 2001.
2. Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1998.
3. Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford
University Press, 2001.
4. The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. Margaret Drabble and
Jenny Stringer. Oxford University Press, 2004.
5. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. John
Anthony Cuddon, Claire Preston. Penguin, 1998.
Texts
1. McEwan, Ian. Atonement. London: Vintage Books, 2002.
2. McEwan, Ian. Saturday. London: Jonathan Cape, 2005.
Books on stylistics and literary studies
1. Pope, Rob. Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for
Literary Studies. Routledge, London, NY, 2001.
2. Simpson, Paul. Stylistics: a resource book for students. Routledge, London,
NY, 2004.
3. Wright, Laura and Hope, Jonathan. Stylistics: a practical coursebook.
Routledge.1996.
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Contents
Предисловие......................................................................................................... 3
Before Reading Atonement
Introduction to the Postmodernist Movement....................................................... 5
Introduction to Postmodern Literature ................................................................. 6
Understanding Ian McEwan................................................................................ 13
Making a Close-up .............................................................................................. 18
Reading Atonement
Chapter 1: Epigraph; Intertextuality ................................................................ 26
Chapter 2: Intertextuality; Description.............................................................. 33
Chapter 3: Briony’s character .......................................................................... 37
Chapter 4: Theme of social prejudice ................................................................ 40
Chapter 5: Dialogue........................................................................................... 42
Chapter 6: Symbols; Intertextuality ................................................................... 46
Chapter 7: Metaphor;Personification............................................................... 50
Chapter 8: Allusion ............................................................................................ 54
Chapter 9: Description....................................................................................... 58
Chapter 10: Characters and people; Intertextuality.......................................... 61
Writing activities ............................................................................................... 66
Chapter 11: Image of the weather...................................................................... 70
Chapter 12: Image of the weather...................................................................... 76
Chapter 13: Allusion; Text division ................................................................... 81
Chapter 14: Reality twists; Text division .......................................................... 86
Part Two: p.191-202: Time shift........................................................................ 92
Part Two: p. 203-214: Epistolary novel ............................................................ 95
Part Two: p. 214-265: Flashbacks ................................................................. 100
Part Three: p. 269-315: Intertextuality; Epistolary novel .............................. 109
Part Three: p. 315-349: Narrative techniques ................................................ 116
Part Three: p. 353-372: Intertextuality; Narrative techniques; Time shift.... 122
After Reading Atonement
Writing activities ............................................................................................. 127
Final Discussion ................................................................................................ 131
Watching Atonement...................................................................................................... 140
Atonement Quiz ................................................................................................ 159
References ........................................................................................................ 163
Contents............................................................................................................ 165
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Учебное издание
ФОМИЧЕВА Жанна Евгеньевна,
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ЧИТАЕМ РОМАН «ИСКУПЛЕНИЕ»
Й. МАКЬЮЭНА
Учебно-методическое пособие
по дисциплине «Практика устной и письменной речи»
(аспект «Домашнее чтение»)
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Печатается в авторской редакции.
Подписано в печать 19.12.2011. Формат 60х90/16.
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Отпечатано в Издательском центре ТГПУ им. Л. Н. Толстого.
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