The Child In Time (Anglais) Broché – 2 juin 2016
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- The Authorized Child-Care Handbook,
Her Majesty's Stationery Office
Subsidizing public transport had long been associated in the minds of both government and the majority of its public with the denial of individual liberty. The various services collapsed twice a day at rush hour when it was quicker, Stephen found, to walk from his flat at Whitehall than to take a taxi. It was late May, barely nine-thirty, and already the temperature was nudging the eighties. He strode to Vauxhall Bridge past double and treble files of trapped, throbbing cars, each with its solitary driver. In tone the pursuit of liberty was more resigned than passionate. Ringed fingers drummed patiently on the sill of a hot tin roof, white-shirted elbows poked through rolled-down windows. There were newspapers spread over steering wheels. Stephen stepped quickly through the crowds, through layers of car radio blather--jingles, high-energy breakfast DJs, news flashes, traffic "alerts." Those drivers not reading listened stolidly. The steady forward press of the pavement crowds must have conveyed to them a sense of relative motion, of drifting slowly backwards.
Jigging and weaving to overtake, Stephen remained as always, though barely consciously, on the watch for children, for a five-year-old girl. It was more than a habit, for a habit could be broken. This was a disposition, the outline experience had stenciled on character. It was not principally a search, though it had once been an obsessive hunt, and for a long time too. Two years on, only vestiges of that remained; now it was a longing, a dry hunger. There was a biological clock, dispassionate in its unstoppability, which let his daughter go on growing, extended and complicated her simple vocabulary, made her stronger, her movements surer. The clock, sinewy like a heart, kept faith with an unceasing conditional: she would be drawing, she would be starting to read, she would be losing a milk tooth. She would be familiar, taken for granted. It seemed as though the proliferating instances might wear down this conditional, the frail, semiopaque screen whose fine tissues of time and chance separated her from him; she is home from school and tired, her tooth is under the pillow, she is looking for her daddy.
Any five-year-old girl --though boys would do -- gave substance to her continued existence. In shops, past playgrounds, at the houses of friends, he could not fail to watch out for Kate in other children, or ignore them in the slow changes, the accruing competences, or fail to feel the untapped potency of weeks and months, the time that should have been hers. Kate's growing up had become the essence of time itself. Her phantom growth, the product of an obsessive sorrow, was not only inevitable -- nothing could stop the sinewy clock -- but necessary. Without the fantasy of her continued existence he was lost, time would stop. He was the father of an invisible child.
But here on Millbank there were only ex-children shuffling to work. Further up, just before Parliament or Whitehall or within sight of the square. But a few were taking advantage of the confluence of commuter routes. He saw their bright badges from a couple of hundred yards away. This was their weather, and they looked cocky with their freedom. The wage-earners had to give way. A dozen beggars were working both sides of the street, moving towards him steadily against the surge. It was a child Stephen was watching now, not a five-year-old, but a skinny prepubescent. She had registered him at some distance. She walked slowly, somnambulantly, the regulation black bowl extended. The office workers parted and converged about her. Her eyes were fixed on Stephen as she came. He felt the usual ambivalence. To give money ensured the success of the government program. Not to give involved some determined facing-away from private distress. There was no way out. The art of bad government was to sever the line between public policy and intimate feeling, the instinct for what was right. These days he left the matte to chance. If he had small change in his pocket, he gave it. If not, he gave nothing. He never handed out banknotes.
The girl was brown-skinned from sunny days on the street. She wore a grubby yellow cotton frock and her hair was severely cropped. Perhaps she had been deloused. As he distance closed he saw she was pretty, impish and freckled with a pointed chin. She was no more than twenty feet away when she ran forward and took from the pavement a lump of still glistening chewing gum. She popped it in her mouth and began to chew. The little head tilted back defiantly as she looked again in his direction.
Then she was before him, the standard-issue bowl held out before her. She had chosen him minutes ago, it was a trick they had. Appalled, he had reached into his back pocket for a five-pound note. She looked on with neutral expression as he set it down on top of the coins.
As soon as his hand was clear, the girl picked the note out, rolled it tight into her fist, and said, "Fuck you, mister." She was edging round him.
Stephen put his hand on the hard, narrow shoulder and gripped. "What was that you said?"
The girl turned and pulled away. The eyes had shrunk, the voice was reedy. "I said, Fank you, mister." She was out of reach when she added, "Rich creep!"
Stephen showed empty palms in mild rebuke. He smiled without parting his lips to convey his immunity to the insult. But the kid had resumed her steady, sleepwalker's step along the street. He watched her for a full minute before he lost her in the crowd. She did not glance back. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Revue de presse
"The Child in Time is an extraordinary achievement in which form and content, theory and practice, are so expertly and inseparably interwoven that the novel becomes an advertisement for, or proof of, its own thesis. I also found it very moving, the ending beautifully so" (Guardian)
"This book describes the panic of losing a child… The engulfing destructive pain is brilliantly explored" (Alison Steadman Week)
"It is marvellously written, moving, serious, readable, and draws on that innocence which great English writers have always been able to recapture, and which is a much harder thing to come by than experience. If you want to be appalled, refreshed, exhilarated, enlivened - read it" (Sunday Times)
"His best work to date" (Irish Times)
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The trademarks we have come to expect from McEwan are here: something horrendous happens to people through no fault of their own, and their lives are irrevocably and forever changed. In McEwan's own words, a "malevolent intervention" occurs. McEwan asks hard questions about the very nature of existence and relationships and life. He makes profound philosophical observations; and as usual, even though his prose is dense, the reader races through his story.
McEwan delves into the meaning of childhood-- children always live in the present-- memory-- you remember what you remember; you forget what suits you-- the relativity of time: time is dependent on the speed of the observer; time slows down during a panic.As always, McEwan's language is both precise and concise. And I believe he coins a couple of verbs too: "first-naming" and Brylcreemed."
Without giving away the ending of this incredible novel, I can say that this is the most positive McEwan I've read, and I've read my way through most of his works. Usually the action takes place someplace beyond despair. Here we have the joy of starting over. As Emily Dickinson would say, "love is all we know of love. A beautiful ending to a beautiful novel.
Mr. McEwan is one terrific writer.
However 'The Child in Time' is certainly an interesting read. A young couple losses a daughter in a most traumatic way ... abduction. We then live through its aftermath from the father's viewpoint (..the father character narrates the story). The author is extremely sensitive and caring in the way he handles the the father's shock and ultimate recovery (..in a sense) of the situation. A very well-observed analysis.
Bottom line: at times McEwan's over-elegant prose almost buries the keen psychological analysis of parental suffering. Yet it's a most memorable read (even to single guys like me).