Ian McEwan tutored his son about his own novel for a high school essay and it got a C+


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/07/iam-mcewan-tutored-his-son-abo.html



I feel mental death comes when your curiosity evaporates."

Roger That!


While leaving it alone was probably for the best (due to the teacher’s obvious small ego) , I suspect that Ian McEwan knew more about his novel than either the teacher or the essayist; and the teacher lost out on an amazing chance to discuss the book with him and his son.


There have been stories of other authors giving insight into the themes of their own works to students and having the class’ teacher give them low grades. Perhaps this particular author was a lousy tutor but its hard to say without more information. Based on the post it seems more like the teacher disagreed with the arguments being presented than the quality of the writing.


If Woody Allen were not such a creep, I would link here to the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall.


Damn, you beat me to it.


Double damn. You beat me to my immediate response!


Relax, we can all be damned (at least according to every religion that we don’t adhere to!)




Once you release your art in to the wild it ceases to become your own. Your interpretation of your art becomes one of many with no greater validity than any other.
Take Fahrenheit 451 for example. Most would agree that the main theme of the story is censorship even though Bradburry himself stated it has nothing to do with censorship.


If that’s true, then the student’s interpretation shouldn’t have gotten a C+.


It depends on how well they argued for it.


“God ha’ mercy! What cannot be racked from words in five centuries?”


This assumes the son wrote a good essay merely because he had access to the author. Since your insult of the unknown teacher hinges on this assumption, I’d be curious as to your reason for making it.


Exactly. The best insights in the world, direct from the author’s mouth, could be trashed by a badly written essay.


I always found it ironic that one of the few Bradbury works available on Kindle at the time of his death was Fahrenheit 451, given his well-known hatred of digital media.


I don’t follow your logic here. Given the example story, if a student was to say Fahrenheit 451 was about the dangers of television, while true to the author’s intent, he may be graded low due to the fact that most read it as being about censorship.
That the artists view has no greater validity than the viewer/reader is not an indication of how you may be graded for your interpretation of a given piece of art especially when there exists a general consensus as to the meaning.


The article is vague and they say that the author said vague things, so we don’t have a lot of facts to go on.

One possible theory is that maybe Mr. McEwan knows what he tried to say in the work, but that’s not what came through. Similar to what people have said about Bradburry’s opinion of the meaning of his work. I don’t find this at all surprising. If you have preconceptions as to what a work says, you’re less likely to actually learn what it says by reading it. The author is in the worst position in this regard because they know what they meant it to say.


penmanship counts