Flirting with Cliché


The teaser for Ian McEwan’s new novel is made up entirely of stock phrases: “To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things.”

Must we – those of us who have read Hamlet and “Auguries of Innocence” – always leap from Shakespeare’s nutshell to Blake’s grains of sand? Are we men or are we automata?


About online outrage he was never wrong,
The Old Master; how well he understood
Its human position. How, when the rational
Reverently, passionately seek Truth,
There always must be children
Who do not specially want to find it.


Possible book title – Gonads of Greatness: From Shakespeare’s Nutshells to Blake’s Grains of Sand