Ian McEwan and Liberal Humanism: A Reading of Saturday

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of English Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

2 MA of English Literarure, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran matin.payam@gmail.com


This article tries to examine Ian McEwan’s Saturday in terms of its ideological orientation. The writers argue that Saturday’s essentially pro-war – pro-Establishment – stance can be explained in terms of liberal humanist views which the novel by and large espouses. The novel, the writers contend, in a sense reflects and is inflected by all the main features of liberal humanism: secularism transformed in the New Atheist militant stance against religion, scientism, rationalism, pluralism, emphasis on the centrality of man and his liberties and rights, emphasis on the human relations and glorification of art and literature as humanizing achievements.  However, considering the post-9/11 context, the writers seek to shed light on the connection between this liberal humanist tendency and neo-orientalism (with Islamophobia as one of its main features). As such, despite the liberal humanist emphasis on avoidance of prejudice and considering all sides of an issue, the novel fails to ask the essential questions about the condition of the contemporary world –  the real causes of terrorism – and in effect by justifying an imperialistic war, rather unabashedly, serves power.


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