Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Palimpsest Groups > The Book Group Discussions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10th Feb 2009, 12:46   #11
Ang
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Ang's Avatar
 
Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,198
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

There are broad hints throughout that not only are the recollections of Bernard and June unreliable; the narrator and memoir writer is also unreliable.

I think Jeremy is using Bernard and June's never ending battle to try to reconcile what he himself thinks about the rational scientific world vs the spiritual world. I don't think the battle itself is even real, nor do I think June would say her self-discovery turns on the black dogs. The very last chapter of the book starts as:
Quote:
But it is the black dogs I return to most often.
It's Jeremy, not June. That, to me, explains why we never get to the heart of the argument - it is not real, or only partially real. I think it is apparent that Bernard and June still love each other. What we don't ever get to see is why they didn't get on. What was the turning point which caused their separation?
__________________
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611
Ang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th Feb 2009, 12:58   #12
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ang View Post
There are broad hints throughout that not only are the recollections of Bernard and June unreliable; the narrator and memoir writer is also unreliable.

I think Jeremy is using Bernard and June's never ending battle to try to reconcile what he himself thinks about the rational scientific world vs the spiritual world.
i think this is true but I think June and Bernard's history and difficulties are absolutely real and fused in that 'black dogs' moment. I feel that Jeremy is diffusing the meaning of it for himself and this gives the story its wandering edge which I found dissatisfactory, because nothing was ever got to grips with (excuse the grammar there).
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Feb 2009, 12:10   #13
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

I just began rereading this. The narrator reminds me of Adrian Mole.
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Feb 2009, 12:56   #14
Ang
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Ang's Avatar
 
Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,198
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

I really liked the narrator and I think he was cleverly executed by McEwan. I suppose because I am looking at it as a story mostly about the narrator rather than his in-laws, I didn't see it as wandering. I could tell after the first section that the actual black dogs story was not going to be told until the end so everything else was going to be a build up to that. Or maybe it was wandering and I like a wandering text?
__________________
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611
Ang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th Feb 2009, 16:58   #15
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

The narrator is quite engaging in a desperate sort of way. His paraphrasing of various luminaries ("Love, to borrow Plath's phrase, set me going") in the preface is a nice instance of his need to impress/ be accepted.

He serves his purpose in the scheme of the novel well too - the orphan who believes in nothing, perfectly placed between the fervent scientist and the Christian who strategises her faith around passages from The Art of War. The ostentation of the conceit would annoy me if a mild-mannered war between the faithful and their counterparts weren't currently being fought out on the unlikely battlefield of the bus-advertisement in London. It's realistic enough in that light.

Anyway, a nice quote in the section I've just read:

Quote:
It is photography itself that creates the illusion of innocence. Its ironies of frozen narrative lend to its subjects an apparent unawareness that they will change or die. It is the future they are innocent of.
That's the kind of visionary generalisation (?) that separates Booker winners from longlist fodder.
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Feb 2009, 22:06   #16
BeccaK
Palimpsestarian
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
 
BeccaK's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Apr 2007
Location: Fife
Posts: 1,098
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

OK, my apologies; I promised to read it and I haven't yet. I'm in the middle of The Count of Monte Cristo, and thought it'd be pretty easy to stick it down for a day or so to read The Black Dogs but OH NO - poison, diamonds, duels, adultery, infanticide, and intrigue abound and I can't leave it alone. I'm on page 800 of 1100, though, and there's a good week of February left, so I will do my very best to get some thoughts down here soon.
__________________
Reading: the Decameron - Boccaccio
2009 charlieledweaning
Flickr
BeccaK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Feb 2009, 22:10   #17
Ang
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Ang's Avatar
 
Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,198
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

That's okay, BeccaK - no rush - come back to this one any time - it doesn't have to be before end of Feb.
__________________
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611
Ang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th Mar 2009, 21:12   #18
BeccaK
Palimpsestarian
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
 
BeccaK's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Apr 2007
Location: Fife
Posts: 1,098
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

And it wasn't before the end of February, obviously. I blame Dumas.

Anyway, like Col on her first reading, I found the scene in the darkened bergerie intensely nervewracking. [My copy is a Vintage, and it hasn't been reset (the type looks pretty ugly and doesn't fit the page very well), so I wonder if perhaps the incident deliberately encompasses a page turn.

The novel is a triumph of tone and suspense. As a novel of ideas I found it frustrating to have the allegory of the black dogs explained so carefully to me, like a parable. But I supppose that Jeremy is the true centre of the novel - a figure of his age - suspended between faith and rationality, whose response to evil can only be the confused narrative that Col describes.

Sorry - not much to say, because I found it all a little thin.
__________________
Reading: the Decameron - Boccaccio
2009 charlieledweaning
Flickr
BeccaK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Mar 2009, 1:09   #19
Beth
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Beth's Avatar
 
Join Date: 22 Sep 2006
Location: Illinois
Posts: 2,854
Default Re: Book 58: BLACK DOGS by Ian McEwan

I liked Black Dogs very much, even to the point of upping the rating to four stars. Then, immediately after, I read The Gate of Angels, which touches on the same themes, only with greater warmth, humor, and a more delicate touch, all of which add infintely to the heft and simmer of Fitzgerald's story. Barely a week after finishing the McEwan, I can't even remember the character's names.

The thing about McEwan's characters in this novel, and in Amsterdam, is that their lives, no matter how much inner conflict he tries to stick 'em with, seem bland and beige. The words on the page as they came were lovely, but looking back it seems more an exercise in style than something with real power.
Beth is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ian McEwan HP Book Reviews 414 29th Jul 2015 20:09
Book Groups Wavid General Chat 43 13th Apr 2010 23:43
White Teeth Lucoid Book Reviews 16 11th Dec 2008 16:12
Orhan Pamuk: The Black Book beer good Book Reviews 0 19th Nov 2006 19:39


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:17.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.