Sunday, July 24

Ian McEwan on a Sunday Morning

The Morning News's Robert Birbaum talks with Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and recently of Saturday. McEwan tells us that fiction is education, in the sense that when you write a novel, you "set yourself on a journey of investigation of our condition, where we stand at this particular time in history" or any time in history.

We've come to a point that there are now many Englishes and writing novels has become like a badge for growing up. Everyone can write a novel, but there aren't enough people to ead it.

Ah yes. Bring on the onslaught. But at the same time, he also warns us about cultural chauvinism:
[T]here is a view—and I used to believe in it in my late teens and early 20s—if you weren’t familiar with the canon and if you didn’t live by literature, you weren’t fully human. You weren’t all there. But we all know full well that most people don’t read novels at all and they are perfectly capable of rich sentient lives in which they make moral decisions. So we must be careful of a kind of arrogance about literary culture. That it’s the only way or only form.
There's also music, television, EDSA billboards, and maybe even fishball (stand) philosophies. If being human is defined by a knowledge of the literary canon alone, what does that make me then? A pop cultural Frankenstein's bride?

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