Using the Present to explore the Past

Read two best-selling historical novels in which a child acts as a ‘go-between’ for lovers separated by class. What do they tell us about the periods they portray?

The Go-Between, by LP Hartley, is a deceptively simple but effective story that recounts the events of the summer of 1900, as recalled in the 1950s. It has been widely translated, adapted for several stage, screen and radio productions.

Ian McEwan’s Atonement was published in 2001, and looks back to events in 1935 and 1940. It was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker prize, and adapted for the screen in 2007.

I will provide a weekly reading schedule so that we can discuss, in detail, how the events in these stories unfold. We’ll look for strengths and weaknesses, parallels and differences, and think about literary influences for both novels.

There will be no session on 27 May.


Course Details

This course finished on 03 June 2020