Ian McEwan: On making love work in fiction

“Literature thrives on conflict.” The renowned British writer Ian McEwan talks of making love work in fiction, the amazing evolution of the novel as a genre, and the mature writer as a toddler of old age.

In literature it seems impossible that someone could be married to the woman they love, McEwan says: “Novels struggle constantly with the business of trying to portray sustained happiness.” Happiness and love is always something fleeting, and thus very precious: “It’s the nature of the human condition that we’re only truly happy in bursts. We can’t be constantly happy.”

Growing older means seeing more and forgiving more, while also loosing some of the fabulous energy of the twenties, explains McEwan: “Novelists don’t have to retire at the age of 31, they accumulate more life, more love, more disappointments, more of everything.” Our consciousness is embodied — our thoughts depend on the body. Growing older is all about the slow collapse of the body: “There’s always something worse coming down the track” he adds with a sly smile. But although times change, the same awkward, fumbling issues remain with us.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) is an award winning English novelist and screenwriter. McEwan has been nominated for the Man Booker prize six times to date, winning the prize for ‘Amsterdam’ in 1998. In 2001, he published ‘Atonement’, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. This was followed by ‘Saturday’ (2005), ‘On Chesil Beach’ (2007), ‘Solar’ (2010), and ‘Sweet Tooth’ (2012). He was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 2011.

Ian McEwan was interviewed by Synne Rifbjerg at Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Photographers: Klaus Elmer & Mathias Nyholm Schmidt

Editing by Kamilla Bruus

Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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