Hard Science, Soft Emotions: Affection Value and Ethical Judgement in Ian McEwan’s “Solid Geometry”
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 7, Issue 5, September 2019, Pages: 105-111
Received: Jun. 6, 2019; Accepted: Sep. 5, 2019; Published: Sep. 20, 2019
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Lin Yuzhen, English Department, School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
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Ian McEwan’s early works brought him the “Ian Macabre” tag because they narrate many horror stories. In “Solid Geometry”, for instance, a husband intoxicated in mathematics mercilessly yet “scientifically killed” his wife through his exploration planes without a surface. This paper, first of all, admits that under the cover of a hard science, the story depicts violence in a soft way. Yet more importantly, enlightened by the affective narratology of Hungarian narratologist Patrick Colm Hogan and German narratologist Vera Nünning, we hold that McEwan’s purposes of narrating such a story lies far beyond depicting violence through hard science. As a matter of fact, McEwan’s sympathy toward women suffering from cold violence is conveyed through the story’s three-layered narrative structure, the emotional conflict revealed between each two of the layers, and the narrative tension achieved through the affective narration within this short story. Moreover, the whole narrative progression conforms to the gender ethics of the author’s writing period when an increasing awareness to the sexism in family relations captured the attention of intellectuals from various fields. In this story, the male protagonist’s fancy toward mathematics is an excuse for his escaping from family duties including the sexual one. On the other hand, he also avoids social responsibility for as an assumed mathematician, he contributes his research finding to no social program of development, but utilizes it as a tool of murdering. In condemning this wrong ethic selection, McEwan proves his excellence as a responsible intellectual instead of a simple “pornographer” or a “macabre”.
“Ian Macabre”, “Solid Geometry”, Embedded Narrative Structure, Science, Affective Values, Ethics Judgement
To cite this article
Lin Yuzhen, Hard Science, Soft Emotions: Affection Value and Ethical Judgement in Ian McEwan’s “Solid Geometry”, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 7, No. 5, 2019, pp. 105-111. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20190705.13
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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