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Kogan, I. (2012). Ian McEwan's Solar through a Psychoanalytic Lens: Solar. By Ian McEwan. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2010, 304 pp., $26.99. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 60(6):1299-1313.
   

(2012). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 60(6):1299-1313

Book Essays

Ian McEwan's Solar through a Psychoanalytic Lens: Solar. By Ian McEwan. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2010, 304 pp., $26.99

Review by:
Ilany Kogan

Psychoanalytic concepts can at times offer an intriguing account of personality, even in the imaginary universe of the novel. Introspection and observation of others were Freud's main tools—as they remain the novelist's. Throughout his life Freud maintained that a close relationship exists between literature and psychoanalysis; indeed, on one occasion he suggested that in the field of the unconscious the writer takes precedence over the analyst: “how hard it is for a psycho-analyst to discover anything new that has not been known before by some creative writer” (Freud 1901, p. 205).

In this essay I wish to present some psychoanalytic reflections on Michael Beard, the protagonist of Solar, an engrossing satirical novel by Ian McEwan, in my opinion one of the world's greatest living writers. The novel, which on the surface focuses on the search for a source of solar energy to save mankind, reveals the integuments of one man's conscious and unconscious processes—manic defenses, an inability to mourn or love, parricidal and filicidal wishes, castration anxiety, fear of death—all illustrating the kind of complex dynamics we come upon and explore in our work.

In each section I will present a summary of the relevant part of the novel, analyze Beard's character traits from a psychoanalytic perspective, and then offer a concise theoretical discussion of the psychoanalytic concepts I have used.

Michael's

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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