Ian McEwan Short Fiction Analysis
Ian McEwan’s short fiction was a significant element in the transformation of British literature during the 1970’s from the gritty realism of the Angry Young Men and the still genteel social explorations of more traditional authors toward the anarchic, dystopic, neo-gothic postmodern writing of a generation responding to the fragmentation, fracture, and aggression of a postcolonial society in convulsive transition. Following the temporary euphoria of the “swinging London” of the 1960’s, McEwan and contemporaries like Martin Amis, Angela Carter, J. G. Ballard, and Will Self completely removed and discarded a veneer of semirespectability to reveal and examine what they regarded as the essence of life in the British Isles. While some critics accused McEwan of dwelling in depravity, he has insisted that he is illuminating some of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition and that the base impulses to which his characters respond reveal essential aspects of human nature usually unacknowledged.
Like Ballard, McEwan has envisioned a late twentieth century world in which technological innovations have undermined human interaction; like Carter, he has explored the darkest regions of the human psyche in a style that recalls the almost delicious horror of the classic gothic genre; like Amis, he has looked with scathing contempt at the stupidity and opacity of people at their most selfish and narcissistic; and like Self, he has described with...
(The entire section is 1317 words.)
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