Daydreams and utopian desire. Intertextual echoes between Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time and Saturday
Readers of both The Child in Time (1987) and Saturday (2005) by Ian McEwan may notice the presence in the latter novel of some allusions to the former. Starting from these intertextual references, this essay proposes the pivotal role of the motif of utopia for the comprehension of both the relationship between the two novels and that between literature and science in the background of each. Utopia is evoked on the allegorical and figurative levels in the first work, while in the second it is only mentioned in order to be denied. Both novels begin with positions of rejection of the traditional conception of utopia, but then go on to illustrate the gradual emergence in the protagonists’ thought of a desire for a better life, for social change in which themselves, with their choices and their families, become models for collective action. Indeed, utopian desire is the driving force behind the plot of both novels, through daydreams which have a dual function: a regressive one which tracks back to a lost golden age and, following Bloch’s thought, an anticipating function, through the “encounter with themselves” for the protagonists and through their recognition and affirmation of the utopian desire.
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