Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’

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Atonement is structured around a series of oppositions: war and peace, guilt and innocence, literature and medicine, imagination and fact. The novel seems to elevate fact above imagination by showing the disasters that the latter can lead to. The central villain of the piece is a fantasist-novelist. But the work as a whole takes the form of a novel which breathes imagination into historical fact, and in doing so undermines the binary distinctions on which the novel appears to turn.

 

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