Novels are not all about you, Natasha | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited
Lovely letter from Ian McEwan in reply to the review of his new book. His point is, as he says, one which you would hardly think needs to be made, but clearly it does. I'm always amused when people cite John of Gaunt's "sceptred isle" speech in Richard II as evidence of Shakespeare's patriotism. First, it's the character's view, not the playwright's; more importantly, in the context of the play, the speech is a lament for an England that is lost. John of Gaunt finishes his dying speech by condemning the decline of the country he loved. It doesn't stop people (often politicians) using the speech as if it were an uncritical celebration of the nation.