Book: Enduring Love

Author: Ian McEwan

Rating: 5/5

Enduring Love-Ian McEwan

Enduring Love starts with the now famous words, 'The beginning is easy to mark,' which sets out how the narrative starts with a single line then slowly, and almost imperceptibly, develops into three different plot lines, which will end up giving the reader three finales, in the three appendices, which critics and readers alike have sometimes found awkward. Yet, the novel needs such ending because it follows the stories of three main characters, Joe, Jed and Clarissa, starting from Joe's point of view, when he witnesses a balloon accident which will change his life. Or is it Joe who changes his life by splitting up, like the balloon, into three different personalities? He then starts becoming paranoid about a crime, and about Jed, who he thinks is stalking him, the problem is that we, the readers, are never sure whether Jed really exists, or is simply a figment of Joe's imagination. In the meantime, his relationship with Clarissa hits the rocks...

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Social/Historical context:

The social context is left in the background on purpose: what we understand is that Joe and Clarissa belong to a well-educated, affluent contemporary middle class. They have good careers and rewarding jobs. Clarissa's occupation though, is more symbolically significant, as she is a lecturer, and the novel for grounds not so much their social status as their intellectual one. This is because I believe the novel's real background is literature itself, in particular, Post-Modernism, or the theory that we human beings are not individuals but all have different personalities. 

Writing Style:

Written in a series of short and very fast-paced chapters, this novel mixes elements of psychology and philosophy in a psychological thriller, thus the fast pace. McEwan's style in this novel plays along a gradient if voices that goes from factual to paranoid, yet always keeping the focus on highlighting the absence of the author's voice in the characters.

My Thoughts:

This celebrated novel, I think, is the terminal of Post-Modernism, the final station, the nail in the coffin of a literary movement which has been dominating literature for almost one hundred years. It is hard to think where to go further from this point, from the very appendices that critics have sometimes sneered at. It has reached the point of no return and McEwan has put a full stop to it, no point trying to make this full stop into suspension dots... 

Book Reviewed by Billy Best

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