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://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=23020, accessed 27 November 2022.]

23020 On Chesil Beach 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.