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Health, Sports & Psychology

A reader's guide to Enduring Love

Updated Saturday 1st January 2005

Ian McEwan's 1997 novel Enduring Love is a psychological study about love and obsession.

Last year we explored the novels featured on the Big Read calendar. Many of these were great Victorian classics; so, by way of contrast, we have decided to start the New Year with a modern text instead. Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love is a gripping novel, and hopefully it may stimulate discussion in the comments.

From a creative writing angle, the plot is constructed exquisitely. The stunning, much-praised, first chapter is particularly memorable. The plot begins with a couple, Joe and Clarissa, intending to enjoy a picnic in idyllic surroundings; but an unexpected tragedy jolts them into a situation that becomes increasingly frightening. Afterwards their lives cannot be the same again, especially when Joe finds that he is being stalked.

This is not the only kind of love considered in McEwan’s powerful book, which develops into a penetrating psychological study with a number of absorbing subplots. The author debates a range of scientific theories and issues: an approach which may bring mixed reactions from readers.

Ian McEwan Creative commons image Icon gretag under CC-BY-NC-SA under Creative-Commons license

The film adaptation of the book is currently showing at cinemas, and has been widely acclaimed. It stars Daniel Craig as Joe and Rhys Ifans as his stalker, Jed. Those who have the benefit of seeing the film as well as reading the novel may be able to offer some useful insights on the forum. Ifans apparently sees Jed as ‘Jesus from a broken home’, which raises questions about whether the talker himself is a kind of victim.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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