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Contemporary Crisis Fictions: Affect and Ethics in the by Emily Horton (auth.)

By Emily Horton (auth.)

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Thus, by recognising modes of negotiation between science and literature in his fiction, which understand knowledge as polyvalent, McEwan challenges a pervasive rationalist impulse within contemporary society, which he sees as indicative of neoliberal crisis. In other words, these fictions prioritise cross-cultural conversation between disciplines as a response to crisis, in this way facilitating a cosmopolitan social ethics. 26 Contemporary Crisis Fictions This is apparent in various of McEwan’s novels, including especially The Child in Time, Enduring Love and Saturday, all of which see progress as a dynamic process.

Influences on the Genre In relation to earlier literary influences, then, I would begin by arguing that it is important to appreciate both continuity with and divergence from an older generation of British writers, as well as ties to an international literary market. Thus, certainly these writers do reflect certain Constructing a New Genre 35 concerns and narrative devices shared with earlier British authors, including John Fowles, Iris Murdoch, Raymond Williams and Malcolm Bradbury, for example, the last of whom taught both McEwan and Ishiguro at the University of East Anglia, on its MA in Creative Writing programme.

In fact, this understanding is appropriate to some forms of narrative unreliability, such as Jonathan Swift’s parodic critique of British domestic policy in A Modest Proposal or Austen’s sarcastic imitation of Victorian etiquette in the form of Mr and Mrs Bennett. Indeed, it is also pertinent, I would argue, in relation to the work of Martin Amis, who repeatedly negotiates a satiric inflection in his writing (as I shall explore in more detail below). In all of these cases, the reader is authorised to look down on the speaker or narrator, to see herself, along with the implied author, as a moral arbiter, capable of a more critical judgement than that offered within the narrative.

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