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Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war childhood and class guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English. There are many reviews already of this book and I did wonder whether the world needed any But I disagree so strongly with some of the opinions expressed that I m afraid I have to exercise my right to reply Two things in particular stand out Let me deal with the simpler one first Some people seem appalled that the author is putting the guilt for this dreadful tragedy on the shoulders of a young girl She didn t know what she was doing they say she was too young to understand the import of her actions and we shouldn t hold her responsible Well it seems to me that this is completely beside the point The novel we finally learn has been written by the girl herself She s giving herself the blame for what happened She s evidently spent her whole life wondering why she behaved the way she did and she still doesn t really know She s just trying to get the story as straight as she can mainly so that she can understand it herself and I found her efforts extremely moving If anyone is claiming that people don t behave this way all I can say is that their view of human nature is so different from mine that it ll be hard to have a meaningful conversation on the subject So now the second and controversial part Many reviewers dislike the post modernist aspects They complain that McEwan is taking a perverse pleasure in tricking the reader into a view of the story which is finally revealed as incorrect that he s playing the unreliable narrator card out of sheer willfulness Again I completely disagree I don t think these aspects of the book are irrelevant or peripheral I think they re at the very core of it and are what make it a great piece of literature McEwan shows us a girl who becomes an author precisely because she wants to expiate the dreadful feelings of guilt she has suffered all her life He lets her explain how it happened in what we eventually discover is a book within a book And the truly awful thing is that she can t do it She cops out with a fake happy ending because she still can t face what she didI don t think this is a trick I think he s saying something about the very nature of writing Many many writers are like Briony They write to absolve themselves of their guilt but in the end they don t say what they want to say It s too horrible to write down They skirt around the issues and end up presenting them in a favourable light If they re lucky they may finally reach an age when they are so far removed from what happened that they can tell the story straight This is what Briony does in the postscript and I don t find it far fetched To take just one example the first I happen to think of look at Marguerite Duras All her life she kept thinking about her first love affair and it coloured most of what she wrote It was only when she was nearly 70 that she could set it down as L AmantBefore the events of the fountain Briony was indeed just a little girl all she could write was the amusingly mediocre Arabella Afterwards she had something that was worth saying though it took a long time to figure out how to do that When she d completed her task she was able to get back to the one she was engaged in when she was interrupted I love the circular structure which ends with Arabella being staged 60 years late Of the many infuriating changes in the movie version I think I was most annoyed by the removal of this key sceneWood burns observes Monty Python s logician as he gives an example of an incorrect syllogism therefore all that burns is wood Similarly the fact that much trickery is post modern does not imply that all post modernism is trickery This is a great and heart felt novel

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Atonement

ProseOn a hot summer day in 1935 thirteen year old Briony Tallis witnesses the flirtation between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner the son of a servant But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and. Atonement Ian McEwanAtonement is a 2001 British metafiction novel written by Ian McEwan concerning the understanding of and responding to the need for personal atonement Set in three time periods 1935 England Second World War England and France and present day England it covers an upper class girl s half innocent mistake that ruins lives her adulthood in the shadow of that mistake and a reflection on the nature of writingAbstract On a summer day in 1935 thirteen year old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment s flirtation between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner the son of a servant But Briony s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth centuryCharacters Briony Tallis Emily Tallis Cecilia Tallis Leon Tallis Lola uincy Jackson uincy Perriot uincy Paul Marshall Robbie Turner 2012 1389 480 9789646917446 1390 437 9789644485213 20 2001

Ian McEwan ¼ 1 READ

Her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century. What a lovely reread this was I first read this novel almost a decade ago and the story has stayed with me The prose is gorgeous and again I was completely absorbed in this novel My favorite character is Briony the young writer seeking atonement for a mistake she made as a child And my heart aches for her sister Cecilia and her wronged lover Robbie I ve only read a few of McEwan s books but I like his writing style so much I want to read Highly recommendedFavorite uotesWas everyone else really as alive as she was If the answer was yes then the world the social world was unbearably complicated with two billion voices and everyone s thoughts striving in eual importance and everyone s claim on life as intense and everyone thinking they were uniue when no one was One could drown in irrelevanceThere did not have to be a moral She need only show separate minds as alive as her own struggling with the idea that other minds were eually alive 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 And only in a story could you enter these different minds and show how they had an eual value That was the only moral a story need haveAt that moment the urge to be writing was stronger than any notion she had of what she might writeFrom this new and intimate perspective she learned a simple obvious thing she had always known and everyone knew that a person is among all else a material thing easily torn not easily mended


10 thoughts on “Atonement

  1. says:

    There are many reviews already of this book and I did wonder whether the world needed any But I disagree so strongly with some of the opinions expressed that I'm afraid I have to exercise my right to reply Two things in particular stand out Let me deal with the simpler one first Some people seem appalled that the author is putting the guilt for this dreadful tragedy on the shoulders of a young girl She didn't know what she was d

  2. says:

    In World War II England 13 year old Briony Tallis misinterprets her older sister’s love affair with their family’s gardener to be something much worse than what it is Her innocence and partial understanding of the world begins a chain of ev

  3. says:

    That I can remember I've never before disliked the start of a book so thoroughly and by the end gone on to think so much o

  4. says:

    The subject matter of Atonement is literature itself but it is much First the writer is one of its characters; second because Ian McEwan’s novel creates a world where subjectivity and objectivity interfere mutually The characters are full of life and the language even if elaborate and subtle does not go around or makes inroads into itselfThe narrator and protagonist Briony Tallis emerges in the beginner as a pre adolescent that

  5. says:

    I was bored with this until half way through but then it got interesting It touches on imagination versus reality fiction versus fact in addition to the story content A portrait of an upper middle class English family is i

  6. says:

    Atonement Ian McEwanAtonement is a 2001 British metafiction novel written by Ian McEwan concerning the understanding of and

  7. says:

    Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003 The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse In the heat of a 1930s Summer a family reunites at their country home for what may be the last time Cousins have come to stay a sister has returned from University and a brother is returning from A

  8. says:

    What a lovely reread this was I first read this novel almost a decade ago and the story has stayed with me The prose is gorgeous and again I was completely absorbed in this novel My favorite character is Briony the young writer seeking atoneme

  9. says:

    This is where a 25 star rating would be ideal I am extremely ambivalent about this novel first the pluses the writing is gorgeous; McEwan has some of the best prose out there Every line has meat to it nothing is throwaway and every v

  10. says:

    I feel that perhaps I have sabotaged this book somewhat as I read it directly after finishing Love In the Time of Cholera and perhaps in retros