Monday, June 11, 2007

Novel Novelty

I have become accustomed to the disclaimers about real persons that appear at the ends of movies, but I was very surprised to read one at the end of Ian McEwan's new novel On Chesil Beach.

The concluding prose reads as follows:

The characters in this novel are inventions and bear no resemblance to people living or dead. Edward and Florence's hotel -- just over one mile south of Abbotsbury, Dorset, occupying an elevated position in a field behind the beach parking lot -- does not exist.

Although I understand McEwan's publisher's anxiety, given the environment of litigiousness that surrounds successful books on the best-seller list, which has tied up many a memoir writer in court, I thought that the characters in On Chesil Beach would have benefited from being based on real and hence more believable characters. This is particularly true in the case of the female protagonist -- a frigid first violinist -- who would have been more affecting if copied from life.

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