Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005) is simultaneously a realist narrative, committed to exploring a particularly troubled moment in contemporary history through the consciousness of the scientifically-minded Henry Perowne, and a larger, less strictly rational vision of poetic language and imagination. The narrative point of view remains close to Henry’s narrowly-construed materialism, but unbeknownst to him, elements of the plot, scenes and language are constructed out of literary texts that hover above the narrative. The essay argues that these literary ghosts complicate the novel’s seeming commitment to Enlightenment ideals of scientific progress and rational explanation. Layered in this way, the novel is a much more complex and inclusive depiction of the relationship between materialist explanation and poetic imagination than its plot and its discussions of literature versus science would seem to allow.


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pp. 60-78
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