Ian McEwan: Nutshell


The central idea for this short novel is from Hamlet: ‘Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.’ The story is narrated (soliloquized) by a foetus Hamlet, whose mother is Trudy (as in Gertrude) and her lover is Claude (as in Claudius). The foetus  eavesdrops on the plot of the lovers to do away with the father (a poet), so that the two can be together without his intrusion.  It’s a clever idea. I’m sure that McEwan did his usual painstaking research so that the cramped environment from which the foetus narrates the story is accurate. Although, how a foetus could have any brain cells left after the huge amount of alcohol (including spirits) consumed by his mother, I don’t know. The whole thing is referenced, perhaps too nicely, to the play – the…

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