View Single Post
Old 8th Feb 2009, 8:55   #5
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
Ang's Avatar
Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,199
Default Re: Book 58: Black Dogs, Ian McEwan

Back when this was written, in 1992, McEwan might not yet have been known for the making a story around the turning point of a person's life. He writes about it in this book, though:
Originally Posted by p.50
Turning-points are the inventions of story-tellers and dramatists, a necessary mechanism when a life is reduced to, traduced by, a plot, when a morality must be distilled from a sequence of actions, when an audience must be sent home with something unforgettable to mark a character's growth.
Unlike his later books, the turning point in Black Dogs, the story of the black dogs themselves, is only hinted at until the last section, where "the story" is told.

Throughout, we know we're going to be confronted with a story which is going to be unpleasant, and there are going to be multiple ways to interpret it. Though the story is held back, we get the interpretations, voiced through the narrator's mother-in-law and father-in-law.

As a staunch atheist, I found myself expecting to agree completely with the view of the father-in-law Bernard. At the end though, instead, I have a certain sympathy for his wife's point of view:
Originally Posted by p. 172
Human nature, the human heart, the spirit, the soul, consciousness itself - call it what you like - in the end, it's all we've got to work with. It has to develop and expand, or the sum of our misery will never diminish. My own small discovery has been that this change is possible, it is within our power. Without a revolution of the inner life, however slow, all our designs are worthless. The work we have to do is with ourselves if we're ever going to be at peace with each other. I'm not saying it will happen. There's a good chance it won't. I'm saying it's our only chance. If it does, and it could take generations, the good that flows from it will shape our societies in an unprogrammed, unforeseen way, under the control of no single group of people or set of ideas . . .'
With the state of play in the world today, it's hard to argue with that. What political party, or set of ideas, is right?
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611

Last edited by Ang; 10th Feb 2009 at 12:49. Reason: typo
Ang is offline   Reply With Quote