Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Enduring love, especially the appendix

I have made reference to this book by Ian McEwan in two previous posts, one about autobiography and biography as health literature, and one about mental health in film.  In that latter post I said I would write about Enduring love again.  Here at last is that post.

As an appendix to Enduring love, there is a scientific paper, a case report, about the condition that one of the characters in the story is living with, De Clerambault's syndrome.    A review of the book in Psychiatric Bulletin talks of the book as based on this case report.   But a later letter to the same journal rings an alarm bell.   The authors are not in the medical register, and there is no journal of the name quoted (British Review of Psychiatry - I had my suspicions about this).  Another letter in the same issue points out that the last reference in this scientific paper does not exist, and that the authors' names are an anagram of Ian McEwan.

There is also an article by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian, 16th August 1999, which tells the story in more detail, who thought it was a real paper and who did not, and has a confession from the author himself.    For other discussions, see this post on Novel Ideas, and the guide by Roger Clarke and Andy Gordon, some of which is in Google Books. p.67 onwards refers to the appendix.  

I read the novel when I was off work last year, at the same time my elder son was reading it for AS Level English.   Being at somewhat of a loose end, I found myself wondering about the value of this "paper" in teaching.   What would happen if you were to use the appendix as a critical appraisal example?   Would anything tell you it was not a real paper?    How could you tell?  I have not yet tried it out.  Perhaps another blog post beckons!


McIvor, R. Enduring love [book review].  Psychiatric Bulletin, 1999; 23(1): 61

Granville-Grossman, K. Enduring love. Psychiatric Bulletin, 1999; 23(4): 242-3.

McCreadie, R. Enduring love. Psychiatric Bulletin, 1999; 23(4): 243.

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