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Ré-inventer le réel

Thomas Dutoit
Trevor Harris

"Shit Happens": Grotesque-Reality in the Narrative Fictions of Ian McEwan

C. Jon Delogu

Texte intégral

Maria started laughing, horrible fall-about laughing, full of fear. He could have joined in. She did not try to meet his eye, the way laughing people do. She was alone with it. She was not trying to stop, either. If she had stopped she would have started crying. He could have joined in, but he did not dare. Things could get out of hand. In films, when women laughed like that you were supposed to slap them hard round the face. Then they were silent as they grasped the truth, then they started crying and you comforted them. But he was too tired. She might complain or tell him off or hit him. Anything might happen.
It already had.
The Innocent (198)

1It would perhaps be helpful to begin with an explanation of my title since this expression — "Shit happens" — although commonly used from Maine to Melbourne, may not be known to everyone, and others who have heard or even used it themselves may have done so without giving it much thought. Consider the two elements: shit and happens. Shit is a noun. It is slang for feces, stools, bowel movements, or "bms" as my mother and father discreetly called them. Happens is the verb of this sentence. To happen means to take place, to occur, to come or become or be as an event. So we have one thing, a noun — shit, linked to another quite different kind of thing, a verb — happens. Happens does not name a thing; if anything, happens names a force, a power. That is the proper function of verbs.

2Now, in order to make sense of this sentence one must realize that shit is being used in a non-literal way. "Shit happens" is a metaphorical expression, a figure of speech, that gives form and substance to what happens, to a happening. In French you have the wonderful lyric from Jacques Dutronc, "Dans la vie il y a des cactus (je me pique de le savoir)," which I take to mean roughly the same thing. In both expressions the speaker is adopting a philosophical attitude towards life and its surprises, and softly-jokingly-firmly encourages his interlocutor to do the same: "Yes, shit happens ... but take it in stride". A more normal, and in any case less vulgar reformulation of these expressions, would be: "accidents happen," "tragedies happen," "spilled milk happens" or, still more neutrally, "events happen" or "happenings happen". Then why bother to say "Shit happens," especially since, as we have already said, shit is a noun that names a thing and as such is very different from an event, accident, or happening? That is, the expression seems not only inappropriate but false, since shit does not happen, not at least in the same way that, say, "the sun shines" or "plants grow". Shit just is... shit.

3Notice, though, that what were called the more normal reformulations are not entirely proper or satisfying either, especially "happenings happen" which has a bland tautological ring to it that stifles thought: one has said something and nothing at the same time, as in the Doris Day refrain "Che sera sera ... whatever will be will be," perfectly charming perhaps, but void. "Shit happens," on the other hand, is a thick, sticky, smelly proposition that stops you in your tracks and makes you think. You can think about it precisely because it brings together two very different things for critical comparison, a figure and a force. Now, though forces are real, figures of speech are not. They are fictions whose claims to correspond to reality can always be batted around as legitimate or ungrounded, real or illusory. However, the abrupt juxtaposition or inventive combination of figures and forces, as in "Shit happens," truly partakes of a certain reality; for while the figure itself may not be an event or a force, nevertheless the inventive linguistic act itself, its very inaugural arrival, its happening, does really happen, and as such packs its own punch just as any force or power would.

4"Shit happens" is therefore a basic example of what. I am calling "grotesque-reality". This term designates the fragile union or sliding interface between the mode (the power, force, or way) and the matter (the events, the stuff, the shit) of arguably all literature, since language — considered as an open-ended system of signs, signs being bipartite structures associating two very different things, known ever since Saussure as signifiants and signifies — is fundamentally grotesque. Reading the narrative fictions of Ian McEwan for their grotesque-reality is, then, at base, an arbitrary choice. Yet, there is something about them that has made me, and many other readers it seems, stop and think lately. Shit happens in the narrative fictions of Ian McEwan, and lots of it. It is a grotesque reality.

5In an essay on the American writer Erskine Caldwell, Kenneth Burke makes an important theoretical claim: "A literary method is tyrannical — it is a writer's leopard-spots — it molds what a writer can say by determining what he can see" ([1941], 1973, 353). This remark, and many other observations concerning Caldwell's narrative fictions, might also be applied to the work of Ian McEwan. McEwan, like so many other artists past and present, is a maker of grotesques. The grotesque defines the form of his knowing. Whatever reality may be, he will only know it through a glass grotesquely. Other essays on McEwan that I have read tend to use the term "hybrid" more freely than "grotesque," but I believe we are talking about the same textual reality: Richard Pedot, for example, calls it "la perversion des demarcations ... cette zone d'indiscernabilité" (102, 108). Claire Pegon's reading of The Innocent stresses its "generic duplicity" (111) and a movement "beyond the bounds of realism into the shifting territory of horror and the grotesque" (113). By grotesque, I shall mean the abrupt juxtaposition or inventive combination of heterogeneous categories: animal, vegetable, mineral, material, spiritual, pleasurable, painful, "tragical-comical-historical-pastoral," etc. Some may recognize in this a definition of metaphor or of figural language in general. Geoffrey Harpham, for one, does draw close parallels between the grotesque and metaphor:

Both metaphor and the grotesque give a dominant impression of unity, though they are manifestly constructed of pieces. And both operate by means of self-abolishing incongruity. We interpret the metaphor in such a way as to minimize the referentiality of its language, and we interpret the groteseque form, filling in its gaps and reading it as a symbol, or a "sign of the times". In both cases, the act of interpretation we perform with all language, and with all images, is intensified to the point where it rises above our threshold of awareness so that we can, as it were, catch ourselves in the act. (1982, 178)

6This analogy between an aesthetic category (the grotesque) and a purely linguistic, quasi-mathematical category (metaphor) has major implications for our understanding of art and how we talk about it. Harpham's hypothesis is to see the grotesque "as a sign not of a pure art, nor of an impure art, but of a total conception of an art that recognized its own paradoxical character, both pure and impure, autonomous and dependent, image and mirror" (178). Interestingly, in all McEwan's pages of text, the word grotesque only occurs twice by my count, both times, it so happens, in reference to mothers (sites-signs of another kind of conception) — in the stories Home Grown and Butterflies — but this is hardly surprising. After all, when someone shows you their photo albums, you never see a picture of the camera.

7The power of McEwan's disturbed imagination (a common trait of the gothic nature according to Ruskin), combined with the evident pleasure he derives from telling his fractured fairy tales, has resulted in a steady output of material. His œuvre can be divided into three groups: the first would include his two collections of short stories (First Love, Last Rites and In Between the Sheets), essentially a set of small grotesques like the chapiteaux of a medieval cloister or the gargoyles that ring the outside of a gothic cathedral. Then come the two novellas Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers, both longer versions of the stories with basically the same range of movement between what Ruskin would call the sportive and the terrible grotesque. Next come the longer novels: The Child in Time, The Innocent, and Black Dogs. These three are cathedrals, full-blown works of grotesque art. The larger size and the complicated narrative structure of each can induce feelings of startled wonder and admiration, or, in the case of the diehard narratologist, spur on detailed investigations and exhaustive rereading. Of course there is also a fourth group: it includes those texts I have simply not read (McEwan's plays, screenplays, and two more recent narrative fictions The Daydreamer and Enduring Love) and those he has not yet written.

8It might be useful at this point to set out a brief general survey of McEwan's "leopard-spots"; that is, the tics and trucs that mark all his work. McEwan is not afraid of repetition. As Burke said of Caldwell, "He seems as contented as a savage to say the same things again and again" (360). According to one's disposition, these repetitive patterns will be more or less pleasing, stimulating, painful, or tedious. Like Caldwell, whose work Burke more kindly calls at one point symbolist, McEwan's fictions might best be read as mythic representations of a savage mind, a kind of pensée sauvage; or perhaps as the dreams and nightmares of a man with a child's capacity for invention, generosity, cruelty, and love. If so, then the reader will have to proceed with patience and caution, like a good anthropologist or parent who confronts a foreign reality on a daily basis, exposed barefoot to the world, expecting the unexpected, and prepared, when shit happens, to get dirty.

9Like many romanciers, McEwan indulges freely in what Ruskin would call the "pathetic fallacy". Emphasizing psychological states by means of skillfully calculated descriptions of physical nature is a recurrent practice. In place of the "dark and stormy night," McEwan often chooses the hot summer day. The summer, especially late summer, is particularly favorable it seems, since that is when things arrive at the full extent of their size and ripeness, and may even get out of control like certain freakishly shaped tomatoes or oversized zucchini. Summer is also vacation time. The rule-governed habits of work and school are suspended when one is "on holiday". During these "vacant, " "holy" days, adults and children are apt to live and think differently, sometimes very differently. McEwan's second favorite season is spring, season of birth and renewal of course, but also, more trickily, the time whose burden it is to overcome the inert, impassive reality of dead winter. Thus is April the cruelest month as Eliot has taught us; that is, the most indigestible, and therefore it is fitting that the most dramatic and grotesque crisis in The Innocent happens in April.

10McEwan likes things to fit. He likes precision and has a taxonomist's (or small child's) fastidious mania for detail. This makes perfect sense. After all, simple ideas and categories cannot be inventively scrambled and recombined into new grotesque forms unless they have first been clearly presented to the reader with name, rank, and serial number. McEwan is not embarrassed to set up obvious puns and clichés; to his savage mind, all relationships — such as the analogy between a leopard and a Leonard — are serious matters. Nor is McEwan afraid of being openly playful and sentimental. Take McEwan's men and women. Often he will start off from the most basic stereotypes, such as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus; but then he may cut and paste in surprising ways. In The Innocent, for example, women are from East Berlin and men are from Tottenham and Cedar Rapids.

11Between the mostly warm, intuitive female characters and the mostly cool, rational males (though this formula is occasionally reversed, such as in The Child in Time which features the enlightened hardscientist Thelma and her soft, child-like husband Charles Darke), there is often a melancholy but sometimes impulsive, geeky but also potent male character. This "hybrid" or "grotesque" figure is also usually an orphan of some kind (with parents dead, absent, or ineffectual) caught up in emotional spirals of mostly unsatisfactory mourning and longing. Moreover, he is the one that McEwan sets up as the Jamesian reflector of consciousness, and it is therefore this figure who operates as the reader's significant other or secret-sharer to the extent that the reader reading also lives detached and alone with his or her own ambivalent thoughts and feelings about everything that happens.

12Of all the senses, McEwan's favorite is the sense of smell. His fictions emit more odors than The Arabian Nights. This also makes grotesque-sense because, as Richard Pedot has noted, les mauvaises odeurs ... sont quasi-impossibles à refouler et se moquent des frontières (107). These odors are often complex both in their composition and their effects, including the power to cross the borders of the text and get up the nose of the reader. Though not exactly a part of modern Speech Act theories, these "smelly words" have the power to perform almost magically, conjuring up ghosts of the odors themselves right off the page. McEwan s catalogue of grotesque smells is truly encyclopedic, a complete enumeration might well go into the hundreds. The reader gets a whiff of everything from "the delicate fecal odor of quality leather" (The Child in Time, 63) to "the aroma of butter, vaginal juices, and potatoes" (The Innocent, 100), to, of course in Black Dogs, that which is the special gift of canine olfactory detection, the smell of fear (147). Perhaps the most powerful example of McEwan s deployment of border-crossing bad smells comes in The Innocent where much of the action takes place in a tunnel dug in close proximity to a large septic tank: "Digging through your own shit, that just about sums this business up," says an English tunneler amid outbursts of wry laughter (81).

13McEwan's two favorite settings are closed spaces with doors that may stay shut or open suddenly, such as apartments, hotel rooms, bedrooms, cellars, cupboards, armoires, trunks, and ovens; or else long, winding passages that connect or intersect borders and bordered spaces [such as tunnels, subways, trains (a moving tunnel), canals, rivers, and country lanes. Most of the action in The Innocent takes place either in a tunnel or in the female-lead Maria's grotto-like, upper-story apartment.

14In McEwan s narrative fictions there are a certain number of what William Empson would call "complex words". In The Innocent the two most striking examples are the abstract nouns freedom and, not surprisingly, innocence, along with their adjective forms free and innocent. Here we come to the sticky, moral-ethical dimension of McEwan's work, a dimension that is more or less explicit in all grotesque creations and their creators. This axiology of the grotesque is something that Ruskin made into the center of his analysis with the provocative terms "noble" and "ignoble" being used to praise or censure different types of grotesque creations. It may be noted that Ruskin's "noble grotesque" is not far from a certain Romantic conception of the sublime popularized by Schiller. In his study of the grotesque as "ambivalent picturesque," Angus Fletcher cites the following passage from Schiller's essay on the sublime.

The feeling of the sublime is a mixed feeling. It is at once a painful state, which in its paroxysm is manifested by a kind of shudder, and a joyous state, that may rise to rapture, and which, without being properly a pleasure, is greatly preferred to every kind of pleasure by delicate souls. This union of two contrary sensations in one and the same feeling proves, in a peremptory manner, our moral independence. For as it is impossible that the same object should be with us in two opposite relations, so it follows that it is we ourselves who sustain two different relations with the object. It follows that these two opposed natures should be united in us, which, on the idea of this object, are brought into play in two perfectly opposed ways. ([1964], 1990, 267)

15Just what the grotesque or sublime writers, and their readers, are supposed to do with their paroxysms, delicate pleasures, and moral independence is what Burke may have been struggling with when he speaks of Caldwell's "balked religiosity". By this he seems to mean the tendency of the grotesque artist to set off towards a revaluation of values in some apparently radical way, and yet at the end of the day he will come back in earnest "to see that we and he take the right side on matters of social justice" ([1941], 1973, 352). Burke wonders about this born-again resurgence of moral righteousness:

[Caldwell's] emphasis upon the playful scrambling of the old proprieties abates: instead of the humorist's refusal, as shown in his earlier zeal to garble the conventions, we get a sober assertion of positive values. He does not merely act to outrage an old perspective by throwing its orders of right and wrong into disarray: he subscribes to an alternative perspective, with positive rights and wrongs of its own, and with definite indications as to what form he wants our sympathies and antagonisms to take. Incidentally, this development suggests the ways in which a motivation essentially nonpolitical or noneconomic can be harnessed in the service of political or economic criticism. (352-353)

16Is a similar kind of double take happening with/in McEwan? Is he or someone else using his grotesque productions to serve some political or economic project? McEwan's grotesques possess the "edgy" quality common to several contemporary writers. They tend to be successful among educated, bourgeois, New Yorker-type readers who can accept "unblinking gruesomeness" so long as it comes with "philosophical suspense," preferably in the form of a "leisurely and expansive meditation" (blurb-copy from the Bantam and Picador editions of The Innocent and Black Dogs respectively). One can notice that McEwan's publishers often use ingredients taken from literary journalists and follow a recipe from I Corinthians 13 to create a delicate vinaigrette. It presents the author as a man who thought as a child but has put away childish things, standing now "unsurpassed for his responsive, responsible humanity". The official McEwan story traces a line from innocence to experience that would understand the ignoble grotesque productions of his wilder youth as the price to be paid for the masterful control and wisdom of the mature writer, husband, and father of four. However, one may ask if the narrative fictions themselves contain or permit such allegories of healthy, wealthy, and wise transformation.

17The Child in Time would seem to offer the most fairy-tale-like happy end. The hero, Stephen Lewis, overcomes adversity and manages in the end to avoid madness, alcoholism, and divorce. The novel's long brooding elegy for a lost child gives way finally to a tone of optimism and high-energy that recalls the uplifted spirits of Stephen Dedalus after he has flown by all nets, including the dire warnings of his friend Cranly. Like his namesake, Stephen Lewis experiences certain déclics that allow him to let go and move on in a positive direction, in this case to a touching reunion with his wonderful and creative wife, Julie. Nevertheless, this prize-winning novel's romantic, feel-good conclusion seems to be more the exception that proves the general rule of unsettling and inconclusive experiences in McEwan's narrative fictions. Keith Harrison has shown, for example, that a redemptive reading of Black Dogs that would "treat terror as a temporary, paradoxical part of affirmation — as in I had a good scare, but I am feeling much better now, thanks" — is only possible for someone who could somehow completely ignore the predicament of the author-narrator figure Jeremy (125). This (anti-)heroic figure sets himself the difficult task of telling a story about an encounter with black dogs from the messy position of both subject and object, as biographer and as black dog who gets poop on his own paws.

18The Innocent offers another example where involvement in extremely compromising, grotesque events does not permit any trouble-free return to an ordinary, peaceful existence. On the one hand, there is an elaboration of a good grotesque marked by a happy, hopeful exuberance, and on the other, a bad grotesque marked by excessive confusion of categories, random violence, and outrageous fortune. On the positive side, post-war Berlin with its mixture of ruins and new construction, different languages, foods, neighborhoods, zones, and political agendas, is as exciting as a carnival to young Leonard Marnham who has come from the dull and smug world of Tottenham and the deathly ordinary routines of the British postal service to work on a spy operation that promises to have world historical significance. Leonard learns to like his job and his co-workers, including the Americans. He likes American songs and American ways in general for what he sees as their inventive and surprising combinations. Leonard notices the Americans have a knack for creating "systems" that permit; both careful efficiency while retaining a certain playful, boyish charm.

The systems, he thought, we need systems.... The old vertical iron ladder was gone. These days you got down by way of a set of stairs that spiraled one and a half turns on the wall of the shaft. They think of everything, he thought, the Americans. They wanted to make things possible, and easy. They wanted to look after you. This pleasant lightweight staircase with the nonslip treads and chain-link banisters, the Coke machines in the corridors, steak and chocolate milk in the canteen. He had seen grown men drinking chocolate milk. The British would have kept the vertical ladder because difficulty was part of a secret operation. Americans thought of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Tutti Frutti" and playing catch on the rough ground outside, grown men with chocolate-milk mustaches playing ball. They were the innocent. (206)

19Whether this portrait of "Americans" set out in free indirect discourse corresponds to all Americans, living or dead, or some sub-group of, say, Mexican-or Irish-or Asian-or African-or other Americans, is of less importance here than the way this portrait is functioning in the novel's narrativized meditation on the category of innocence. Thus, eating steak with chocolate milk, among other "American" behaviors, is not grotesque in the sense of disgusting; it is funny and sportive, even liberating in the way that it innocently mocks conventions and asserts a certain kind of freedom. This position, that of the bricoleur-artiste (Americans = grotesque = free innovation), needs to be compared to the very different interpretation of "the Americans" put forward in the opening paragraph of the novel where Leonard and the reader are initiated into the emotionally charged post-war environment of Berlin by an Englishman, Lieutenant Lofting.

It was Lieutenant Lofting, who dominated the meeting. "Look here, Marnham. You've only just arrived, so there's no reason why you should know the situation. It's not the Germans or the Russians who are the problem here. It isn't even the French. It's the Americans. They don't know a thing. What's worse, they won't learn, they won't be told. It's just how they are. (1)

20Notice, "the Americans," are condemned for the same "innocence" that will be praised later on. "Innocent" here means "the problem" of sheer ignorance and reckless, perhaps even contemptuous, insubordination. This "problem" irritates Lofting, and perhaps consoles him too, because he suspects it to be part of their incorrigible nature: "It's just how they are ... [so get used to it]".

21Leonard's education, his Ausbildung or formation, both professionally and personally, passes by way of acting like or alongside "the Americans"; that is, by trying out different takes on what it means to be "innocent". But they do not all go according to plan, others seem totally without plan. When Leonard decides that he will mock certain conventions of the dating-game and playfully enacts live versions of violent behavior with his girlfriend Maria, the carnival-like atmosphere becomes extremely dark. The episode causes a long and nearly permanent interruption of the relationship and disturbs Leonard-leopard's sense of innocence. Later, after a cooling-off period, the relationship is able to begin again and even progresses to the level of official, public recognition at an engagement party with friends and acquaintances. This progress towards a responsible married état civil is made possible by their maintenance of an improvised silence around the matter of Leonard's "Unartigkeit" that is, his "clumsiness," as though it were a matter of an artist's infelicitous brush strokes — and by their tidy assignment of all evil and blame to the "pervert" ex-husband, "this pig, this piece of human shit," Otto (182). But Otto, like June's "black dogs," is an impulsive mongrel slob with little respect for polite conversation and borders. When he is discovered in the bedroom armoire on the night of Leonard and Maria's engagement party, a crisis irrupts and an accelerating series of grotesque events leads to Otto's violent destruction. The abrupt interruption of Otto's biological life by means of a skull-crushing blow to the head with a cobbler's last, coincides with a second and more long-lasting interruption, disintegration, and rearrangement of the "special relationship" between Maria and Leonard. The last two chapters of the novel, like the secret Berlin tunnel Leonard returns to see years later, cave in to leave a grotesque ruin, though still partly open to the sky.

22This partial opening may be seen as a figuration of Leonard's surprising, late-in-the-day decision. "He knew what he was going to do"; namely, attempt a belated reunion with Maria, and this time with the courage to fail: "He would send no warning, he was prepared to fail" (302). We may understand Leonard's sudden about-face by going back to another moment where "innocence" figures prominently. At the airport as Leonard prepares to get away from Berlin, seeming thus to be "getting away with it all," he remarks on the people around him.

The people around him are a strange assortment. There was a down-at-heel family in front — grandparents, a young couple and two small children. They had enormous cardboard suitcases and cloth bundles tied with string. [The reader may be reminded here of Leonard's trunks and bundles.] They were refugees, obviously.... Behind him was a group of French businessmen talking loudly, and behind them were two British Army officers standing erect and beaming quiet disapproval at the French. What all these passengers had in common was their innocence. He was innocent too, but it would take some explaining. (279)

23The explaining, if we can put ourselves in Leonard's shoes for a moment, might pass by way of a rereading of the fatal-fortunate fall of the iron cobbler's last. Here is the crucial sentence:

He could not sway it from its course, he could only take hold and participate, let it carry on down, and down it came, all force and iron, the sign of the kicking feet, down it dropped like justice, with his hands on it, and Maria's hand, the full weight of a judgment, the iron foot crashed down on Otto's skull, and pierced the bone toe-first and went deeper still and dropped him to the floor. (195-196)

24The key phrase, I would like to claim, is "down it dropped like justice". The phrase raises an important question, a question that is also implicit, although it was earlier partially elided, in the expression "Shit happens"; namely, how does justice drop? how does it happen? How is it done? One commonly speaks of justice being "handed down," but one also speaks of old clothes being "handed down" to younger siblings. The point is, without entering into all the details, that Leonard has decided, thirty years later, to read this "like" differently. The cobbler's last dropped like justice; that is, it dropped just like certain examples — all given the name "justice" — that Leonard had read, seen (perhaps at the movies), or been told about in the past. But this was not exactly like those other examples. What happened, as he reconsiders it, was different. Perhaps it was not justice after all. Justice, whatever it may be, must be something else entirely. The last just dropped. Shit happens. "He could not sway it from its course ... [nor anything else]" He is therefore innocent ... or is he?

25To decide whether this explanation is legitimate or a self-serving naive delusion may not be possible. The proof of this may be derived from returning to the questionable moral dimension tucked away inside the expression "Shit happens". If you ask people who use this expression what exactly they mean by it, you generally hear two sets of responses. Either it functions as a disabling, neutralizing excuse: "Shit happens ... so don't feel bad, there was nothing you could have done otherwise"; and thereby, under the guise of a certain naturalness, determinism, or fate, the words may serve to evacuate possible attendant feelings of guilt and regret. Or the expression may function as a form of reahty therapy, which, while passing over the ascription of innocence, guilt or punishment for past actions (though such ascriptions may yet be "handed down" by someone or some body), it imperatively calls the subject to face facts and take responsibility for the present and future. "Shit happens" would be translated here as "Tough tutti!" or more aggressively by the; words "Suck it up!" in an imperative mood with the accent on what are you going to do now? — even when, and especially when, you do not know what will happen next. In this case "Shit happens" would signal the advent or the reaffirmation of inalienable free will and personal responsibility, instead of their sterile foreclosure within a closed system of rules, habits, and calculations. Perhaps this is what Maria has in mind when she dares to write to Leonard from Cedar Rapids: "Dear Leonard, I think there's only the smallest chance in the world this letter will ever reach you ... and who knows what will happen to it then. I've written it so many times in my head that I might as well get it down anyway. If it doesn't reach you, it might help me..." (293).

26It is Maria's sheer daring that most impresses Leonard and in some way — either by his deliberate choice to reciprocate or perhaps in a reflexive motion as mechanical as a mother's exchange of smiles with her infant — causes his change of heart. He will dare to dare too, facing the possibility of mistakes and failure. He dares to be and build "among the ruins" (301), no matter how terribly misshapen or ridiculous things may appear. He wants to make something happen.


Works Cited

Burke, Kenneth, [1941], 1973. "Caldwell: Maker of Grotesque." In The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Harpham, Geoffrey Galt, 1982. On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Harrison, Keith, 1996. "McEwan's Black Dogs: (Anti) Gothic Narratives". In "Le Courant gothique et ses avatars dans la littérature angloaméricaine." Annales du monde anglophone 1996.4: 125-132.

Fletcher, Angus, [1964], 1990. "Grotesquerie: ambivalent picturesque." In Allegory: The Theory of A Symbolic Mode. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

McEwan, Ian, [1989], 1991. The Innocent. New York: Bantam.

—— [1992], 1993. Black Dogs. London: Picador.

Pedot, Richard, 1996. "Le pervers et son double: The Innocent de Ian McEwan." Annales 1996.4: 101-109.

Pegon, Claire, 1996. "Textual Intercourse, or the Politics of Penetration: Ian McEwan's The Innocent." Annales 1996.4: 111-124.

Reynier, Christine, 1996. "The Daydreamer ou l'entre-deux par excellence." Annales 1996.4: 133-148.

Ruskin, John l [1850-1853], n.d. "The Nature of Gothic" vol. II, chap. VI; "Grotesque Renaissance" vol. III, chap. III in The Stones of Venice. New York: Colonial Press Company.


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