‘A mess of our own unmaking’: <i>Enduring Love</i>

Dominic Head

in Ian McEwan

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780719066566
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701027 | DOI:
‘A mess of our own unmaking’: Enduring Love

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This chapter analyzes Ian McEwan's testing of scientific rationalism in his novel Enduring Love. Underpinning this testing of character is McEwan's larger literary project, to consider the function of the novel when set against the claims of post-Darwinian science about the evolutionary basis of morality and judgement. This novel implicitly stages a contest of the relative merits of science and literature, as a careful fusion of form and content, contained within a suspense novel. It also shows humanity to be at a stage of evolution and/or social complexity that puts us out of the evolutionary loop, and that demands of us an ethical sense that addresses the problem of self-interest with acute self-consciousness.

Keywords: Enduring Love; scientific rationalism; Ian McEwan; morality; judgement; science; literature; humanity; social complexity; self-interest

Chapter.  9912 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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