Ordinary Minds on Remediated Days. Television and Media in 'Saturday' by Ian McEwan

Elisa Bolchi

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


Ian McEwan is well known for the remediation he operated on his own works from literature to cinema (The Cement Garden, The Innocent, Enduring Love, Atonement, just to mention the most popular ones). In my paper, however, I am going to focus on how literature is remediated by television, and media in general, by examining how McEwan, in his novel Saturday, though presenting a work clearly recalling modernist narrative structures, shows the way in which humans, under the influence of several media, are remediated. Saturday has been described as an allegory of the post-9/11 world (Dirda; Fortin Tournes), and in fact McEwan here mainly concentrates on the impact of the tragedy of 9/11 on culture and society, and uses media, mainly television, to show how they influence the processes of the human mind. The novel has also been widely associated with Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Joyce’s Ulysses for its modernist structure (Head; Groes; Wells). I here wish to analyse how McEwan uses television and media to rewrite and transform modernist literary forms in Saturday, in which media are represented as shaping our minds and ways of perceiving the world. What is most interesting is that, in the novel, things only seem real when they appear in the news; thus the protagonist keeps watching the news to make the event he witnessed in the morning (what he calls “his news”) real. But the news always fails to provide him with an answer or an explanation, and the understanding of reality only arrives, at the end of the novel, through a kind of epiphany triggered by poetry. I will also examine how McEwan uses media (television, internet, mobiles) to characterize and contextualize his characters, who are defined by the use they make of them. I will finally analyse how television, being a recurring element in the narration, sets the rhythm of the protagonist’s ‘stream’ of thoughts; indeed it appears nine times and plays a role similar to that of the Big Ben in Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Ian McEwan writes a novel concerned with the role and influence of media, examining how, penetrating our minds and brains, they become an integral part of them. In an age which keeps asking how new media can affect, influence, inspire, or be detrimental to literature, the British writer manages to represent their influence on our lives without bending his narrative structures to media’s new languages and forms. On the contrary, he absorbs them into the narration and represents them through the remediation they operate on human minds.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteRemediating Texts and Contexts from Shakespeare to the Present
EditorG. Angeletti, G. Buonanno, D. Saglia
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • 9/11
  • Ian McEwan
  • Media
  • Virginia Woolf


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