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Love Through The Ages | On Chesil Beach

Ruth Owen | Wednesday October 12, 2011

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  1. Studying For The Exam
  2. Examples From Literature
  3. About The Exam
  4. Further Reading
  5. The Examination
  6. Symptoms of Love, Graves
  7. The First Tooth, Lamb
  8. The Deserter
  9. The Soldier, Brooke
  10. A Lady of Letters
  11. Sonnet 130, Shakespeare
  12. Measure for Measure
  13. Hamlet
  14. Othello
  15. King Lear
  16. Equus
  17. Great Expectations
  18. Enduring Love
  19. Mid-Term Break, Heaney
  20. Your Last Drive
  21. The Going
  22. The Waste Land, Elliot

On Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan 1948-

All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them. Love and patience – if only he had had them both at once – would surely have seen them both through. And then what unborn children might have had their chances, what young girl with an Alice band might have become his loved familiar? This is how the entire course of a life can be changed – by doing nothing. On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence, he could have gone after her. He did not know, or would not have cared to know, that a she ran away from him, certain in her distress that she was about to lose him, she had never loved him more, or more hopelessly, and that the sound of his voice would have a deliverance, and she would have turned back. Instead he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer’s dusk, watching her hurry along the shore, the sound of her difficult progress lost to the breaking of small waves, until she was a blurred, receding point against the immense straight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light.

In this extract, a man now in his sixties, several decades from the time of his disastrous honeymoon and subsequent divorce, reflects upon what he might have done to put things right between him and his new young wife. How does McEwan convey a sense of regret?


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