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《星期六》文学中的“两种文化”

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本文是一篇文学毕业论文,文学论文不仅要深入剖析作家作品的表现手法、艺术特色、文学价值,还要熟知代表作家、代表作品、文学团体和主要流派并分析思考出现的文学现象及其兴衰过程、产生原因及其历史影响等等,还要参考相关的文学理论,深入了解文学的本质、构成、创作手法、文学鉴赏、文学发展的内部规律、古今中外美学名家对美的本质、特点以及审美问题的探讨和认识。(以上内容来自百度百科)今天为大家推荐一篇文学毕业论文,供大家参考。

 
Introduction
 
Ian McEwan, born on 21 June 1948, is one of the most acclaimed British writersin the late 20thcentury. He has enjoyed equal popularity with Martin Amis and JulianBarnes. During his prolific 40 years of writing career, he has published thirteen novels,three short story collections and three screen plays, many of which have brought himliterature awards or nominations. In 2008, McEwan was awarded the CBE fromQueen Elizabeth Ⅱ for his great achievement and contribution in literature.Ian McEwan received his literature education in the University of East Anglia,under the guidance of Malcolm Bradbury and August Wilson and became one of thefirst graduates of their pioneering Master‘s Course in Creative Writing. His graduationwork First Love, Last Rites (1975), once published, caused a great sensation in theBritish literature circle and eventually won him the Somerset Maugham Award in1976. This short story collection set the tone for his later works, like The CementGarden (1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1981), all of which focused ongrotesque and suffocating themes, such as sexual violence and abused children andwon him the reputation as ―Ian Macabre‖. Since the mid-1980s, the themes of hisworks and the techniques used in those works both have made significant changes.With more mature and sophisticated writing skills, McEwan marched towards thebroader social and political background. Novels written between The child inTime(1987) and Enduring Love (1997)are different from the previous ones written inhis first stage of literary career and are generally classified as ―‘novels about ideas‖.Malcolm once stated, ―Overall, McEwan‘s career shows a trajectory from quiteextreme moral relativism toward a clear moral focus‖ (15). Amsterdam(1998), theMan Booker Prize winning work opens a new phase of McEwan‘s literary career. Inthis ―character-led‖ phase, McEwan ―invites the readers to embark on a journey ofexploring human nature through his skillful descriptions of the character‘s‘ choicesand reactions towards the crisis, conflicts and dilemmas in the stories‖ (Han 9). In thisphase of McEwan‘s writing career, as Childs claimed, ―[there] is less an interest in themacabre than in both delineating individual reactions to moments of crisis andpresenting the tenderness and brutality of relationships without sentimentality‖(Childs 6). Following Amsterdam (1998), the publication of Atonement (2001) madehim famous both home and abroad. This novel was later adapted into a big budget and big grossing film, which in return made this novel a best seller. In Ian McEwan,Dominic Head speaks highly of McEwan as ―one of those rare writers whose workshave received both popular and critical acclaim. His novels grace the bestseller listsand he is well regarded by critics, both as a stylist and a serious thinker about thefunction and capacities of narrative fiction‖ (2). After Atonement, McEwan publishedhis books every two or three years. In 2005, Saturday was published, and won him theJames Tait Black Memorial Prize and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. OnChesil Beach (2007), Solar (2010) and the most recently published Sweet Tooth (2012)all prove McEwan a diligent and prolific writer.
As a writer nominated for the Man Book Prize for six times, Ian McEwan haslong been taken seriously by the critics ever since the publication of First Love, LastRites (1975). Researches made by Western critics in the recent 30 years can beroughly divided into two stages. The first stage mainly focuses on theme study, whichprovides essential references for later study but is far less systematic due to the lack ofthe support of the contemporary literary theory. Themes like the sexual relationship,history, politics, environment, science and religion are constantly studied by critics.Jack Slay‘s Ian McEwan (1996) focuses on the themes of McEwan‘s works,especially on sex and gender. With the development of contemporary literary theoryand the rising popularity of McEwan‘s works, the studies in the second stage appearmore comprehensive and diversified with greater depth. Until now, more than 30books and over 700 essays focused on McEwan and his works have been published byWestern critics. Generally speaking, feminism, psychoanalysis and ethics are the mostpopular and frequent used approaches to study the works of Ian McEwan. BernieByrnes uses psychoanalytic approach to study McEwan‘s works in three books: Sexand Sexuality in Ian McEwan’s Works (1995) and The Work of Ian McEwan: APsychodynamic Approach (2002) and McEwan’s Only Childhood: Development of aMetaplot (2008). She studies the Oedipus complex, sexual perversion and sexualviolence reflected in the novels and believes the author relieves his inner pressure bywriting these novels. David Malcom‘s Understanding Ian McEwan (2002) coveringall of McEwan‘s works chronologically up to Amsterdam (1998) points out thefeminist elements in McEwan‘s novels. Peter Childs in his Contemporary Novelists:British Fiction Since 1970 (2005) has devoted one chapter to Ian McEwan to mainlydiscuss the children-adults relationship in McEwan‘s works. Childs‘s later book TheFiction of Ian McEwan (2006), which contains criticism from over 30 books andarticles, is a comprehensive guidebook to understand McEwan and his works.Dominic Head in his book Ian McEwan (2008) contends there are political and humanconcerns behind those shocking subjects in McEwan‘s stories. Sebastian Groes in2009 by publishing his Ian McEwan: Contemporary Critical Perspective (2009)gathered the most up-to-date articles on McEwan‘s most recent books by internationalcritics. Lynn Wells‘s book Ian McEwan (2010) points out a new direction in McEwanstudy with the approach of Emmanuel Lévinas‘s ethical theory.
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Chapter One Science: Perowne’s Unquestioned Faith
 
In Saturday, McEwan delineates an anxiety-ridden post-911 society, where itsprotagonist Henry Perowne becomes a numb witness and a horrified spectator in theface of the constant threat of terror. The human nature of pursuing certainty andcontrol prompts the atheistic Henry to cling to science as a secular faith, in which hecould find consolation. His job as a neurosurgeon makes him a secular god in the eyeof his patients and their relatives, which also grants him the sense of control andpower. Therefore, medical knowledge grants Perowne the respected title as DoctorPerowne and the luxurious lifestyle, and gives him the sense of certainty and control,which he could hardly find in the post-911 world.In addition, science also provides an explanatory system in favor of him. Byresorting to science, the suffering of others bothers him less since the impoverishedothers could be merely reduced to genetically-flawed ones. As a member of theprivileged, Perowne frees himself from any empathy or responsibility for thoseunlucky fellow human beings since their bad luck has nothing to do with hisprosperity. They are unlucky due to the inheritance of a bad gene. Baxter is just thecase. Instead of giving him his empathy, Perowne could only treat him with anoperation. Perowne‘s apparently benign actions thus emphasize the blind spots ofprivilege and the incapacity of human empathy.Science thus is Peorwne‘s unquestioned faith against a world of chaos and hisown sense of guilt.
 
1.1 A Sense of Certainty and Control against a World of Chaos
Saturday depicts a world seemingly teetering on a precipice. From the flamingplane and the anti-Iraq War demonstration, which allude to 9/11 to the home invasionin the end, the novel aims to show that the protagonist‘s privileged and satisfactorylife is threatened and destabilized by countless forces both in a global and a personalscale.Written right after the events of 9/11, Saturday is full of the 9/11 allusions. Thenovel is set on 15 February 2003, the day of the international protest against the Iraqwar and the largest demonstration in the history of the British Isles. The openingscene of Saturday witnesses a burning plane heading to Heathrow, which immediatelyreminds both the protagonist and the readers of the two hijacked planes crashing intothe World Trade Centre. For many people, like Perowne, the events of 9/11 likenightmares hover over their consciousness, rendering them with a state of anxiety anda sense of looming threats. Perowne ponders ―It‘s already almost eighteen monthssince half the planet watched, and watched again the unseen captives driven throughthe sky to the slaughter…Everyone agrees, airliners look different in the sky thesedays, predatory or doomed‖ (McEwan, Saturday 16). Responding to the Septemberattacks, McEwan concludes in his article ―Beyond Belief‖: ―Like millions, perhapsbillions around the world, we knew that we were living through a time that we wouldnever be able to forget. We also knew though it was too soon to wonder how or whythat the world would never be the same. We knew only that it would be worse‖(McEwan, Beyond Belief 1). No one could escape the impact of 9/11 and eachindividual‘s private life is experiencing a potentially direct and destructive strike.
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1.2 An Explanatory System in Defiance of His Sense of Guilt
It is noteworthy that at the end of the novel, when ruminating on his day,Perowne shows a firm claim on the importance of the genetic heritance for the fate ofany human being. He thinks, ―it can‘t just be class or opportunities—the drunks andjunkies come from all kinds of backgrounds‖— it must be ―down to invisible foldsand kinds of character, written in code, at the level of molecules‖ (McEwan, Saturday281). Such claim immediately brings to us what has been called the evolutionarypsychology by which, Perowne has been greatly influenced. Evolutionary Psychology(EP) is a growing field within psychology that looks at the human mind and behaviorthrough the lens of evolution. It tells us that our thoughts and behaviors evolvedbecause they served a purpose in the environment in which we evolved - anenvironment far different from that which we live in today. Thom Dancer concludes―This is the case with Henry‘s desire to see everything through the lens of a kind ofDarwinian materialism.‖(214). In this way, Perowne could ―depreciate the role ofculture and feeling‖ (Dancer 214) while clinging only to the scientific explanation ofhuman fates—genes. This makes him an absolute ―professional reductionist‖(McEwan 2005, 281), whose ―training and specialization inevitably lead him tobiological formulations rather than political or socioeconomic ones‖ when heconsidering the issue of the haves and have-nots (Tim Gauthier 18).
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Chapter Two Literature: The Secular Transcendence and Its Redemptive Power.......19
2.1 An Umbilical Bond Forged by the Shaping and Sharing of Stories .....20
2.2 A Space for Moral Imagination and Empathy.........24
Chapter Three From The ―Two Cultures to The ―Third Culture ..........28
3.1 The Epistemological Immodesty of the Scientific Reductionism ...........28
3.2 Consilience as the Merging of the Two Parallel Discourses.......32
 
Chapter Two Literature: The Secular Transcendence and Its Redemptive Power
 
As a novel discussing the two parallel discourses of science and literature,Saturday creates two parties of characters who respectively uphold their belief in oneof these two discourses. The party of literature is represented by Daisy, Perowne‘sdaughter and a prize-winning poet and John Grammaticus, father-in-law of theprotagonist and also a famous poet; while the other party is represented by ourprotagonist Henry Perowne, a firm scientific reductionist. Despite his daughter‘sliterature instructions, Perowne is neither a lover of fiction nor an admirer of poetry.He dismisses fiction as ―too flawed, too sprawling and hit-and-miss to inspireuncomplicated wonder at the magnificence of human ingenuity, of the impossibledazzlingly achieved.‖ (McEwan, Saturday 68). Daisy believes that no one could livewithout stories. Henry disagrees with it and thinks he is just the living proof. Thoughhe has two poet relatives, poetry has even less appeal: ―Perowne can‘t see howpoetry—rather occasional work it appears, like grape-picking—can occupy a wholeworking life, or how such an edifice of reputation and self-regard can rest on so little‖(McEwan, Saturday 195). As a result, he is deemed as ―a coarse, unredeemablematerialist‖ by Daisy (McEwan, Saturday 134).However, no one could live without literature. John Tooby and Leda Cosmidesclaim that we are   designed‘‘ to respond to literature, which makes us more adaptiveto our environment with better knowing and feeling (Tooby and Cosmides 18). We areborn as story-telling animals, whose biological traits favor such activity. Daisy‘s claimthat no one could live without stories is proved constantly in Saturday, whilePerowne‘s belief that he can live without stories is simply ungrounded since Saturdayis entirely constructed by his telling of stories: the firing plane heading to Heathrow;the young addicted couple in the street; his acquaintance with Professor Telab; hisloving story with Rosalind; his clash with Baxter, etc. Andrew Foley also considersPerowne‘s ―entire existence is a narrative and his self-identity is constituted by thestories which make up his life‖ (154).
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Conclusion
 
McEwan, in Saturday, depicts a terrified Londoner Perowne who tries to rely onscience as his secular religion and his solely explanatory system to achieve a sense ofcertainty and control in face of a world of chaos and terror in the post 9/11 Westernsociety. Deeply depending on science, Perowne despises literature, which he finds hasneither meaning nor beauty. His epistemological immodesty—placing scientific truthas the only truth of the world makes him numb with others‘ suffering. By resorting toscience, the suffering of others bothers him less since the impoverished others couldbe reduced to genetically-flawed ones. As a member of the privileged, Perowne freeshimself from any empathy or responsibility for those unlucky fellow human beingssince their bad luck has nothing to do with his prosperity. They are unlucky due to theinheritance of a bad gene. Therefore, in dealing with Baxter, instead of giving him hisempathy, Perowne could only treat him with an operation. Such kind ofepistemological immodesty finally brings him serious trouble in the form of a savagehome invasion by the humiliated Baxter.In the end, it is literature‘s magic of binding people together and inspiring moralimagination and empathy that saves the day. It is not surprising that McEwan, afamous atheist, and humanist will endow literature with such moral significance.McEwan believes that fiction is the place where all of us – whether as writers orreaders – imagine what it is like to be someone else. The ability to imagine someoneelse instead of yourself is the essence of morality and is what separates us from thoseterrorists. For McEwan, 9/11 terrorist attack is a tragedy of lack of empathy because ifthose terrorists could imagine the horror of those passengers on the plane and thebroken-heartedness of their relatives and friends, they would not commit the crime.
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References (abbreviated)

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