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Ian McEwan’s Saturday is a Condition of England novel inspired by the collective fear of destruction embodied in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In this paper I explore the way in which McEwan extends his distinctive engagement with confrontation and destruction through his recollection of historical incidents. McEwan’s strategy in recollecting and measuring fear in historical moments, usually in the form of Henry Perowne’s soliloquies, provides a chance to reflect upon the contemporary moment and to estimate possible developments of current crises. If fear is something unexpectable, unmanageable, and unimaginable, then recalling memories of past fears will constitute a route plan orienting us towards an understanding of what we are now (by knowing what we were before) and what we will become (by excluding what we will not become).

This paper attempts to read fear as represented in McEwan’s works in light of risk and fear theories. As this paper argues that fear is unpredictable and unpreventable, it also reveals a social and historical dimension to its complexity. I use Maurice Halbwach’s theory of collective memory critically to clarify McEwan’s representation of fear in this post-9/11 novel, Saturday. Successive resurgences of historical incidents reconvene a post-9/11 traumatic memory. A collective sense of urgency brought about by the lurking presence of past incidents turns out to intensify the presence of pressing dangers. In this way, personal memory becomes a major site to which a sense of insecurity is summoned and transformed into fleeting moments of fraternity in the wake of disasters. Most importantly, recalling memories of chaos and fear presents a chance for communication, compassion, and reconciliation because it evokes a sense of concurrence which we all inhabit and in which we all survive. 

KEY WORDS: fear, trauma, collective memory, 9/11, condition of England 

摘 要

當代英國作家伊恩.麥克伊旺(Ian McEwan)在 2005 年出版的作品《星期六》(Saturday),是一本受到九一一事 件啟發的小說。故事由恐怖攻擊引發的想像開始,透過疾 病的隱喻與呈現,探討人類在集體面臨創痛之後,對於生 命、政治、倫理等議題產生的深刻省思。

本文處理麥克伊旺在《星期六》呈現的籠罩於後九一 一恐怖攻擊恐懼中的英國現狀,藉由探究麥克伊旺藉由角色 對白拼湊出的歷史拼貼,探詢何以過往毀滅恐懼的記憶不但 提供一個對照現狀時局的參照基準,也提點出恐懼反射在歷 史未來發展的期待與焦慮。如果毀滅攻擊陰影中的恐懼是一 種無法預測、無法管理、無法想像的威脅,對於過往毀滅記 憶的探詢或許有助於摸索現狀與未來的路徑。本文試圖恐懼 在集體記憶扮演的積極角色,面對恐怖攻擊,人類感受到的 恐懼往往不只是自身的安全受到威脅,在召喚集體恐懼記憶 的過程中,往往更能夠深切思索當下面對的困境。個人對於 恐懼的記憶此時經常與集體記憶產生連結,在面對恐懼的過 程中浮現想像的集體感受,一股重新啟動溝通、和解與憐憫 的後續反應或許因此變得可能。