Neuron Culture

Ian McEwan’s libretto


I like several of Ian McEwan’s novels and especially admired his novel Saturday, which, being among other things a riff on Virginia Woolf’s "Mrs. Dalloway," updated that novel’s m.o. by giving the stream of its narrator’s narrative a decidely neuroscientific tint.

In another novel, Amsterdam, his protagonist is a somewhat pompous composer who, toward the end, is caught rather embarrassingly suspecting he is a genius even as he churns out a piece of career-wrecking unoriginality. "Genius," he dared think himself, and it proved otherwise.

I thought at the time the composer was partly a stand-in for the dangers of vanity and overassessment that face any artist. Now I learn that McEwan has written a libretto for an opera, For You, that examines the dangers of sexual jealousy.