Barbara Puschmann-Nalenz (Bochum)
Portrait of an Author: Ian McEwan and His Works in Reviews
Portrait of an Author: Ian McEwan and His Works in Reviews
The essay analyzes the immediate reader-response to Ian McEwan's fiction between 1975 and 2010 in reviews written by more or less professional critics – mostly journalists – and published on the internet or in weekly and daily newspapers. They reflect McEwan's development from an outsider in the landscape of British literature to a famous writer. Though recognized by some as an eminent talent from the beginning the subjects of his short stories and early novels proved too disturbing to be accepted by a wide readership. They also reflect McEwan's alienation from the literary scene in Britain until the late eighties. After the publication of A Child in Time (1987) his continual rise to the celebrity he became in the new century was secured.
Reviews, like interviews, constitute a special type of secondary literature. Unlike criticism published in book form or as journal articles, they are promptly, sometimes rashly produced after the appearance of a new work or an event in the writer's biography. With few exceptions – on programmes on TV or radio –, they come out in printed form in daily or weekly newspapers and are often written by authors whose field is not mainly literature or cultural theory and who do not apply a specific critical method. What they show is a development not only of the person and the literary works of an author, but also of an evaluation by the community of literary critics, fellow authors and journalists. They reflect the literary taste of the common reader as well as the critics' ability to discern the potential and achievement of a writer.
In the case of Ian McEwan a period of thirty-five years can be covered by this analysis, the time from his first collection of short stories to his most recent novel Solar (2010). The appraisal inevitably reveals nearly as much about the reviewers as about the works they review. Although they cannot be expected to always represent the main part of the audience, even less of the general public, they are anchored in the contemporary society mostly of the UK, as well as in its literary scene.
From "the Clapham Shocker" to "the magus of Fitzrovia" – that could very easily be the lurid headline of a survey of published reviews on McEwan. Brian Finney in his article on Atonement (Finney 2004: 68) ascribes it to a burlesque trait in sensational newspapers that reviews of McEwan's early work nicknamed him "the Clapham Shocker"; the title "the magus of Fitzrovia" (D'Ancona 2007), however, attributed to him in a review of On Chesil Beach, proves that the labelling tendency has by no means changed with the author's geographical or social move from the fringe to the centre.
Even serious journalism attached notations to Ian McEwan and his works that sometimes border on the scandalous – that being obviously how the reviewers saw his works; these epithets are more frequent in, but not restricted to, the early years of his career. After the millennium, however, pejorative terms have become rare.
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A few reminiscent exemplary captions illustrate the former reactions of the press and once more shed light on the evolution of the literature business and the author alike: "Ian McEwan's Moral Anarchy" (Hayman 1978: 15-16), "Delikater Schweinkram" (Rutschky 1983), or, more leniently, "The Bright Young Man Grows Up" (Stephen 1987), "Master of Gore and Perversity" (Levy 1990: A12), "Sex, Psyche and Salvation" (McCue 1990: 18), "The Prince of Darkest Imaginings" (Cowley 1997) or "Shit Happens" (Delogu 1999).
The following pages seek to raise the reader's awareness to a stunning development of judgment in the press. The articles printed in serious newspapers in response to McEwan's works enable us to realize that the readership's attention was attracted by such catch-phrases almost as much as by the praise he receives today as a mainstream writer and one of the "famous quartet" of British contemporary authors (Sutherland 2002).
Although it is possible to classify the selected reviews according to their qualities and the occupation of the reviewers I have chosen to deal with the sample in chronological order, following the progress of McEwan's work.
2 From the Beginnings (1975) to a Hiatus (1982)
The headlines quoted above ought not to conceal the fact that from the very beginning acknowledged writers and critics recognized and appreciated McEwan's talent. Immediately after his debut with the short story collection First Love, Last Rites, Peter Ackroyd (1975) as literary editor of The Spectator contrasted the sometimes "wayward emotions" represented in his stories with the supreme command of his control of the language in which it is done. That McEwan occupies his imagination with weird situations and people does by no means deter Ackroyd from advising the young writer to ignore the literary establishment of the day and to go on developing his outstanding gift as an avant-garde fiction writer.
"But it is a precarious tightrope Mr McEwan attempts to walk" the reviewer of The New York Times comments a few weeks later and warns the reading public to acquire the collection "for the wrong reasons", namely to indulge in the aberrations of psychopathic characters wrapped in perfect narrative (Mewshaw 1975). His apparently rhetorical question, however, with intertextual citation from Macbeth, "If a tale is to be told by an idiot, a deranged character driven by inchoate needs, shouldn't it at least be a little ragged around the edges?" may very well be answered in the negative and has already been disproved by several of William Faulkner's novels, to name an example from an earlier stage of experimental fiction. Michael Mewshaw warningly concludes his review with the slightly ambivalent mantra about a writer in his twenties: "He bears watching in the future." Watch him, read him, because he might become 'either/or' – either a really great writer or an obscene, sordid one soon to be marginalized. In the first case, one would have to be ashamed later about the failure to recognize the genius in a state of his early development.
Like Peter Ackroyd's, Nigel Williams' is a collective review comprising several new books, one of them Ian McEwan's second collection of stories In Between the Sheets (1978). The review's title "Bizarrerie" (Williams 1978) already sets the tone for the judgment given here that, while the stories are "beautifully written", their content is by no means appealing. Yet, perhaps without being aware of it, Nigel Williams nails McEwan's later expressed intention which he pursued in his early writing when he states that "McEwan has the enviable gift of finding humanity in apes, perverts and even in the inhabitants of worlds yet to come" (ibid.). His stories succeed – in spite of the sensational.
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McEwan's aspiration towards psychological realism as well as his ability to write magnificent prose and create perfect structures for his stories is thus acknowledged in these examples of early reviews. When his first novel, The Cement Garden, appears in the same year as the second short story collection, most important newspapers with a "New Books" section already review him, and when his second novel The Comfort of Strangers follows in 1981 John Leonard in The New York Times argues that Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (which shares the setting and some of the atmosphere with McEwan's latest novel) "was better", but that McEwan's narrative is more extreme in terms of its characters and events (Leonard 1981). The politics of sex and class are the topic of the English couple's conversation, yet despite this cerebral constellation "[o]ne immediately expects the worst, and the worst is what one gets." (ibid.) Leonard treats with irony the improbabilities of the plot – a method which reviewers have continuously applied to McEwan's fiction to this day, saying that much of what he writes is "not believable" – while Leonard prefers to call this "fancy stuff". To deal with sado-masochism for a serious writer in a novel was still bold, and it becomes obvious that reviewers, who are readers in the first instance, remain puzzled at the material and plot, whereas they give their unconditional praise to McEwan's narrative abilities.
Rutschky's Spiegel review (1983) was written after the short story collections and the first novel had been translated into German and published by Diogenes. The reviewer impatiently looks forward to the German publication of The Comfort of Strangers, because he already knows that McEwan succeeds in representing the gap between our expectation that sexuality is established in the emotional category of "happiness” and the crude and indecent inherent in sex drive which seems to resist all attempts at complete acculturation. Interestingly, Rutschky implicitly claims that the literary and the private are political. Explicitly he wishes McEwan every success, especially in Germany, where the political watershed of the autumn of 1982 had led, in his opinion, to a restorative flinch after the reforms which the Social Democratic-Liberal government had achieved and were planning. A more open treatment of sexuality in German schools had already been condemned by members of the prospective Christian Democratic government in the months after the fall of the Social Democratic-Liberal coalition. Therefore, Rutschky regards McEwan's fiction as a possible means to keep German society aware of what they already "knew" from the academic research of the past decades, that the rude and the macabre are not outside of but in the midst of civilisation, even though polite society would rather deny its existence than think about it (Rutschky 1983). McEwan's achievement is to make it "human", to lift the aberrations of confused outsiders to a literary, intelligible level, to make us sometimes even laugh about them and thus "tame" the absurd and the horrible. His narrative – and in several reviews this was clearly appreciated – was able to sympathize with isolated and clearly disagreeable characters by assuming their point of view.
A conspicuous gap in McEwan's fiction writing between 1982 and 1987 is frequently focused on in interviews with and articles about him. He likes to state that in 1982/83 he had come to an impasse and therefore stopped writing fiction, reaching a dead end resulting from his impression that fiction is only to a limited degree able to deal with what we call reality. But McEwan also said that the "gap" signified a (temporary) standstill because he felt alienated from the British literary and social mainstream (Cook 2009: 131).
3 Growing Popularity (1987-1999)
As early as in 1981 McEwan had started to write for television: Imitation Game contains three short plays.
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Or Shall We Die? (1983) is the text for an oratorio which was set to music, followed by the screenplay The Ploughman's Lunch (1985).
All these works, including the screenplays for the later films based on
his novels, were reviewed by media critics, but at that time they
did not achieve the critical acclaim his fiction had already brought
him. The author himself rated his involvement with other media,
especially TV, as opening up new avenues of characterization. He then
could feel free to use them for his subsequent narrative works after
having interrupted his novel-writing, since in the early eighties he
had arrived at insurmountable limitations of fictional representation.
McEwan himself also mentions the changing "literary landscape" in
Britain as a reason for his new start: the mid- to late eighties saw a
number of innovative novels and authors in Britain as well as an
increasing interest of society in fiction, which also expressed itself
in the reading public's awareness of the Booker Prize since 1980. As a
consequence, the number of reviews of McEwan's books soared.
In retrospect, The Child in Time has been unanimously considered a landmark in McEwan's career as a writer. In 1987, he resumed writing novels and has since then continued to publish one every two to four years, to which were added another screenplay (Sour Sweet) in 1988, the libretto For You (2008), and a children's book called The Daydreamer (1994).
With The Child in Time, his last novel of the eighties, he definitely turned away from the representation of strange characters completely detached from society and only symbolically representing its state towards moments of crisis in individuals embedded in history and in a world we recognize. Nevertheless, some critics like for example Michiko Kakutani hanker after his earlier novels and short stories, because they ascribe to them the greater achievement up to this point. McEwan's "previous mastery of form and craft" (Kakutani 1987) seems to be discontinued in his new novel. This is all the more discomforting to those readers for whom his characteristic unity of effect by a distorting representation of something very disturbing had meanwhile become a trademark of McEwan. The eagerness with which his next work is awaited by Kakutani, however, is heightened rather than diminished after this disruption.
The turn that took place in 1987 implied a conversion to Modernism, as Michael Byrne states in his review (Byrne 2000). The thematic focalization on time, the nonlinearity of the narrative and its "time-hopping" all connect this novel to Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner. Time as a human fabrication and as destiny emerge as a constant theme of McEwan's further development as a novelist.
Yet, horror has not vanished from McEwan's writing, as reviewers of The Innocent (1990)
soon observe. Michiko Kakutani, who also reviews the following novels,
emphasizes that "innocence" had previously been unmasked as a very
precarious state (who was not reminded of Golding's Lord of the Flies
by McEwan's depiction of the amorality of children and adolescents?).
Although Kakutani (1990) claims that Leonard, the "innocent"
protagonist, "becomes a symbol of modern man's reluctance to take
responsibility for his actions" and that the (then divided) city of
Berlin is symbolic of "the modern world as an existential wasteland" –
which would link this text to the existentialist narratives of the
seventies – the novel shows characters and events as rooted in a
definable historical situation and an empirically verifiable setting.
The "political and philosophical level" (Kakutani 1992) is continued in
Black Dogs (1992), where once more the symbolic and the concrete
merge in a mysterious experience that provokes a crisis in the life of
individuals. Kakutani calls it "an absorbing yet vexing book" (Kakutani
1992), more a poem than a novel.
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Two weeks after this review, the same
newspaper saw fit to publish another review by a different critic, who
obviously came to a conclusion that at least complements Kakutani's:
William Grimes considers McEwan's latest two novels "a departure from
the author's introverted psychological dramas, which unfolded in
settings stripped of any precise identity" (Grimes 1992).
While the first of these reviewers was still under the spell of
McEwan's novels and stories written up to 1982 the second one
highlighted the change and novelty of the more recent work.
Enduring Love (1997) drew not only a positive response from reviewers. Though the opening scene was acclaimed as powerful and poetic the methods of characterization were criticized; in addition, Laura Miller (1999) revealed the scientific 'information' it contains as a hoax, a trick by which McEwan fooled the readership. When reviews in America first appeared, their discussion about the Aristotelian distinction between "catastrophe" and "tragedy" seemed appropriate; in the view of what happened three years later in September 2001 it seems futile or involuntarily sarcastic. Nicholas Nesson of the Boston Globe portrays the reading audience of 1998 as "smug" – "public mourners of the death of saints and princesses [Pope John XXIII and Diana Princess of Wales, I presume]", who can weep for the remotely horrible but are easily consoled by our complacency (Nesson 1998). This is a stigma which Adam Mars-Jones of The Observer also ascribes to the narrator of the otherwise appreciated Enduring Love, when he entitles his review "I think I'm right, therefore I am" (Mars-Jones 1999).
Since praise abounds about McEwan's novels after the millennium and has been widely publicized it is particularly interesting to look at the critical voices commenting on his Booker-winning novel Amsterdam (1998). Craig Seligman considers it partly unconvincing and expresses disappointment about what he regards as the writer's self-betrayal. His conclusion reads: "McEwan is an aesthete like Clive [a character in the novel], seduced by the beauties of symmetry, and he's undone, in the end, by his own exquisite craftsmanship: Instead of betraying his structure, he betrays his book." (Seligman 1998) McEwan's narrative perfection would become his message's doom. Chilliness, another reviewer states, has here replaced disaster, or maybe reveals itself as the true disaster (Pritchard 1998). Pritchard is not the only one to feel that this novel can serve as a farewell to the Thatcher era and is, in spite of its title, very British.
In a review in one of Germany's most renowned daily newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Amsterdam, together with McEwan's previous works, is totally condemned as containing "trivial patterns", being "unoriginal", having nothing to offer which could not be better done in a movie and as "turning horseplay into tragedy". "Whoever writes like this will also play bridge" – a game considered by Germans suitable for elderly well-to-do ladies leading a life of leisure (Maus 1999, my translations). Whether the German edition of McEwan's novel is largely responsible for this slating, and whether Stephan Maus, the author of this review, has read McEwan's earlier fiction or not, are unanswerable questions. That the latter's award-winning novel was regarded by several critics as one of his weaker works remains an undeniable judgment when we evaluate the response to his previous and his subsequent works.
4 Ian McEwan brings the British novel into the 21st century
The headline above quotes the subtitle of Geoff Dyer's review of Atonement in the Guardian (Dyer
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Since his article and a number of others (by Frank Kermode,
Hermione Lee, Ron Charles (2002), and Daniel Mendelsohn) have been quoted
numerous times and are included in the books by Peter Childs (2006) and Bernie
Byrnes (2006), this study selects only some of the 'dissenting opinions' which
diverge from the overall praise and scholarly investigation this novel
has received by the most renowned critics. Herself an established
writer, Anita Brookner takes offence at the improbabilities of the book
and its narrative device to make the protagonist also the narrator and
author, so that by the end we have read a novel within a novel
(Brookner 2001: 44). She states that this postmodern peculiarity is
unconvincingly explained as Briony's attempt at a lifelong penance for
the havoc she created. The review, apart from a couple of insignificant
errors in the plot, takes fully into account the metafictional, the
artistic and the ethical questions arising from it. Brookner finds
McEwan's effort unsatisfactory because of a lack of authenticity – not
only in the novel's story, but concerning its craftsmanship and
purpose. For her, the questions "is it believable?" or "is the novel an
artistic tour de force?" remain crucial to the end (Brookner 2001: 44).
Unlike journalists who are not specialized in literary criticism and obviously think that his most celebrated novel is an "atonement" for what "he has done [written] in the past" (Gussow 2002) two reviews in German (von Lovenberg 2002 and Pralle 2002) recognize a thematic continuity and the tradition of Modernist English fiction in this work; the latter, nevertheless, sharply criticizes the novel's closure (Pralle 2002). It is not surprising that the postmodern turn at the end is rejected by several reviewers who want to rejoice at McEwan's place in the Hall of Fame of English literature (not Scottish, as von Lovenberg 2002 believes!). Celebration prevails and paves the way for the accolade of the following novel Saturday, which receives admiration as continuing "parallels and homages to classic novelists." (Kemp 2005) "McEwan decisively staked his claim to be part of the great fictional tradition" (Kemp 2005). It is by no means accidental that an Indian reviewer finds fault precisely with the novel's intertextual echoes regarding structure and narrative technique as being "replete with literariness", "often unbearably self-indulgent and full of self-regard [for the colonisers' heritage]" (Sen 2005), while British journalists applaud this feature as an asset and homage to the Great Tradition. Despite the improbabilities that are also admitted for Saturday, Kemp's review calls McEwan "an expert of the human mind" and "a writer of outstanding subtlety and substance" (Kemp 2005); his colleague Ruth Scurr declared one day before: "Artistically, morally and politically, he excels" (Scurr 2005). There is general agreement now that instead of a turnaround in his career it is the continuous progress to fame which impresses a connoisseur and allots to the novelist "the top spot" (Crompton 2005)
The general enthusiasm of reviewers also results from the fact that McEwan gives a voice to the global anxieties of the first decade and creates a social reality where readers may recognize themselves. The topical menace of daily life which Henry Perowne encounters, and the retreat into the sheltered privacy of love, family, work and wealth thus raises the crucial questions of the audience's reality.1
With the general acclamation of his
works, reviewers also pay more and more attention to McEwan's biography
and stances. Many examples show that the 'human interest' in famous
authors at least equals that in their works. The "review" category thus
becomes a hybrid, often including reports on the writer's life history
and opinions, enriched by gossip or "news" about his private affairs –
a characteristic which distinguishes reviews more and more from
critical contributions to scholarly journals. With the rise of the
author his role also changes, and many reviews reflect this change:
"Novelists are no longer just novelists – they are also global pundits
shaping our opinions on everything from art, life and politics to
civilisation as we know it" (Sardar 2006).
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This statement coincides
with McEwan's own mind expressed in interviews that British literature
has gained tremendously in significance in the course of the past
thirty years (Louvel 1995, Pim 2008).
On Chesil Beach (2007) is reviewed by Colm Tóibín, another important fiction writer, for the London review of books. That the protagonists "have their past lives and their present circumstances dissected in [...] slow motion" (Tóibín 2007: 28) is a statement on a feature which already caused a reviewer of Atonement for the Christian Science Monitor to exclaim that "only God should have such intimate knowledge" (Charles 2002)! Tóibín calls this novella "pure comedy" – which of course contrasts sharply with the protagonists' own view and that of some reviewers alike (e.g. Adams 2007) – and praises its immensely careful language by which the author also creates "distance and irony, without creating too much of either." (Tóibín 2007: 29)
An even greater compliment is given to McEwan by the Washington Post, whose critic is convinced "that no one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan's accomplishment" (Yardley 2007) in taking up subjects of "universal interest" and representing them in "masterly prose" (ibid.). Let it be added that articles or book chapters which meanwhile appeared do not always judge the novella as favourably as that. The appraisal McEwan's new publications receive in the press seems partly accounted for by the new tag a review of his most recent novel Solar (2010) attaches to his name: "the literary novelist with a popular appeal" (Anthony 2010). Once more McEwan's biography and writing career are emphasized, and the message unmistakably is this: If you don't know yet who this is [as happened to former PM Tony Blair], I'm telling you, because you ought to know who this is: "Of the four [...] novelists that have dominated the English literary scene for a generation [...] the most serious" (ibid.); Lorna Bradbury calls him "the closest thing we have to a national novelist" who, since Saturday, has been regarded as "a fine proponent of the state-of-the-nation novel" (Bradbury 2010).
A critical evaluation totally contradicts this in calling McEwan's most recent work a "farce", occasionally bordering on slapstick, something unexpected from McEwan and leading into the category of "purely light entertainment" (Urquhart 2010). As controversial as his latest fiction is the part McEwan plays together with Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie in the discussion about Islamism. Several book reviewers, but also political journalists have seized the opportunity to question and often attack the role of the most renowned authors in the controversy about one of the most topical subjects regarding the "state of the nation".2
Ackroyd, Peter (1975): "Traditional", in: The Spectator: current affairs magazine of the year 17 May 1975, 613-614.
Adams, Tim (2007): "Innocents abroad". [http://guardian.co.uk/books/2007/ mar/25/fiction.ianmcewan/print 23.11.2009]
Anthony, Andrew (2010): "Ian McEwan: The literary novelist with a popular appeal". [http://www.guardian.co.uk/ theobserver/2010/feb/28/ianmcewan-profile 29.03.2010]
Bradbury, Lorna (2010): [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/ bookreviews/7421547/So 29.03.2010]
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Brookner, Anita (2001): "A Morbid Procedure", in: The Spectator 15 September 2001, 44.
Byrne, Michael (2000): "Time and the Child in Ian McEwan's The Child in Time". The Antigonish Review 123, 101-107.
Byrnes, Bernie C. (2006): Ian McEwan's "Atonement" & "Saturday". Nottingham: Paupers' Press.
Charles, Ron. "Atonement (Book Review)" (2002): The Christian Science Monitor vol. 95 (3/14/2002), 45, and 3/8/2009. [http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2009/0308/classic-book-review-atonement 05.01.2011]
Childs, Peter (ed.) (2006): The Fiction of Ian McEwan. A reader's guide to essential criticism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cowley, Jason (1997): "The Prince of Darkest Imaginings". The Times 6 September 1997.
Crompton, Sarah (2005): "The arts column: a novelist's big day". [ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3637230/The-arts-column-a-novelist's-big-day 23.11.2009]
D'Ancona, Matthew (2007): "The magus of Fitzrovia", in: Spectator 4 April 2007. [http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/28945/the-magus-of-fitzrovia.html 13.01.2010]
Delogu, C. Jon (1999): "Shit Happens". GRAAT.
Dyer, Geoff (2001): "Who's afraid of influence?" [http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/sep/22/fiction.ianmcewan 23.11.2009]
Finney, Brian (2004): "Briony's Stand against Oblivion: The Making of Fiction in Ian McEwan's Atonement", in: Journal of Modern Literature 27:3, 68-82.
Grimes, William (1992): "Rustic Calm Inspires McEwan Tale of Evil". [http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/18/books/mcewan-grimes.html 29.11.2009]
Groes, Sebastian (Ed.) (2009): Ian McEwan. Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Continuum.
Gussow, Mel (2002): "Atoning for his past". [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/ 05/03/1019441435182.html 23.11.2009]
Hayman, Ronald (1978): "Ian McEwan's Moral Anarchy". Books and Bookmen, 24 October, 15-16.
Kakutani, Michiko (1987): "The Child in Time". [http://www.nytimes.com/1987/ 09/26/books/mcewan-child.html 13.01.2010]
Kakutani, Michiko (1990): [http://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/29/ books/mcewan-innocent.html 12.01.2010]
Kakutani, Michiko (1992): [http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/03/books/ mcewan-dogs.html 29.11.2009]
Kemp, Peter (2005): [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and _entertainment/books/article506640.ece 23.11.2009]
PhiN 56/2011: 142
Leonard, John (1981): "The Comfort of Strangers". [http://www.nytimes.com/1981/o6/15/books/mcewan-comfort.html 12.01.2010]
Levy, Paul (1990): "Master of Gore and Perversity". Wall Street Journal 4 September, A12.
Louvel, Liliane et al.(1995): "An interview with Ian McEwan", in: Etudes britanniques contemporaines 8, 1-12.
Lovenberg, Felicitas von (2002): "Vergiftete Zeilen. Lesen gefährdet den Charakter: Ian McEwans Meisterwerk". [http://www.ianmcewan.com.bib/articles/FAZ-08-02.html 23.11.2009]
Mars-Jones, Adam (1999): "I think I'm right, therefore I am". [http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1999/sep/07/fiction.reviews 29.11.2009]
Maus, Stephan (1999): "Ganz schön vorlaut". [http://www.faz.net/s/Rub79A33397BE834406A5D2BFA87FD139 12.01.2010]
McCue, Jim (1990): "Sex, Psyche and Salvation". The Times 8 May.
Mewshaw, Michael (1975): "First Love, Last Rites", in: The New York Times 28 September. [http://www.nytimes.com/1975/09/28/books/mcewan-first.html 12.01.2010]
Nesson, Nicholas (1998): "Are the Catastrophes of Life Tragic, or Only Horrible?" [http://www.boston.com/globe/search/stories/books/ian_mcewan.htm 13.01.2010]
Pim, Keiron (2008): "McEwan's novel take on climate change". [http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/ story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline& category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED03 31.05.2010]
Pralle, Uwe (2002): "Schuld und Sühne. Ian McEwan hat einen fast perfekten Roman geschrieben", in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung 233, 67/B9.
Pritchard, William (1998): "Publish and Perish". [ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3637230/The-arts-column-a-novelist's-big-day]
Puschmann-Nalenz, Barbara (2010): "… occupying a position in this sort of order of living monuments’: Ian McEwan in Interviews", in:Anglistik. International Journal of English Studies21:2, 103-114.
Rutschky, Michael (1983): "Delikater Schweinkram". [http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-14029900.html 13.01.2010]
Scurr, Ruth (2005): "Happiness on a knife edge". [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/ books/article507285.ece 23.11.2009]
Seligman, Craig (1998): [http://www.salonmagazine.com/books/sneaks/1998/12/09sneaks.html 29.11.2009]
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Sen, Aveek (2005): "My City Square. Happiness is a Hard Nut to Crack".[http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050318/asp/opinion/story_4501336.asp 23.11.2009]
Stephen, Kathy (1987): "The Bright Young Man Grows Up". Sunday Times Magazine 16 August 1987.
Sutherland, John (2002): "Life was clearly too interesting in the war". [http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/jan/03/fiction.ianmcewan 23.11.2009]
Tóibín, Colm (2007): "Dissecting the Body", in: London Review of Books 29:8, 28-29.
Urquhart, James (2010): [http://licence.icopyright.net/user/view/FreeUse.act?fuid=Nzcw/Mzg 29.03.2010]
Williams, Nigel (1978): "Bizzarrerie", in: The Listener 26 January, 127.
Yardley, Jonathan (2007): "Two young honeymooners struggle to consummate their marriage" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/3 13.01.2010]
Notes1 Byrnes includes further reviews on Saturday in her book.