Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach (2750 words)


Ian McEwan’s tenth novel, On Chesil Beach (2007), narrates the events of a disastrous wedding night, thus making its subject matter, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, “sex and the loss of innocence” (134). Through an all-knowing third-person voice which derives from the tradition of nineteenth-century realist fiction, we learn that Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting both dread and desire to varying degrees the requisite sexual encounter: while the groom is “mesmerized by the prospect […] that the most sensitive portion of himself would reside […] within a naturally formed cavity inside this cheerful, pretty, formidably intelligent woman”, the bride anticipates that moment with “visceral dread” and “…

Citation: Logotheti, Anastasia. "On Chesil Beach". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=23020, accessed 18 June 2021.]

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