Confabulation of Things Past in Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs

Seyed Javad Habibi


Confabulation is a result of memory impairment and a confabulator in many different ways produces various unreliable narratives: either by weaving a detailed narrative to fill in the gaps in his memory or by falsifying his memory due to the absence of deceitfulness occurring in clear consciousness. Concentrating on the unreliability of memory-oriented narrative, particularly, in the narratives with historiographical framework such as Ian McEwan’s novel Black Dogs (1992), this article underlines various types of discrepancies among the major characters’ narratives and lays bare how the memory-based narrative of the novel is crystallized from “the reconstructive theory of memory.” Indeed, the object of this study is to substantiate that those inconstancies and contradictions throw doubt on the central incident of the novel, which puts forward the assumption that the entire narrative of the novel is a confabulative.



Full Text:



Anderson, P.S. (2005). An Ethics of Memory: Promising, Forgiving, Yearning. In G. Ward (Ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Postmodern Theology. Malden: Blackwell.

Bortolotti, L. and Cox, R. (2009). Faultless’ Ignorance: Strengths and Limitations of Epistemic Definitions of Confabulation. Consciousness and Cognition Volume 18, 952–965.

Bymes, C. (1999). The Work of Ian McEwan: A Psychodynamic Approach. (Doctoral thesis, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England)

Childs, P. (Ed.). (2006). The Fiction of Ian McEwan. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eisold, K. (2012). Unreliable Memory: Why Memory's Unreliable, and What We Can Do about It. Psychology Today 12 Mar. 2012.

Partridge, E. (Ed.). (1966). Fable. Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. 4th (ed.) London: Routledge-Taylor.

Fotopoulou, A., M. A. Conway, M. Solms, S. Tyrer and M. Kopelman. (2008).Self-Serving Confabulation in Prose Recall. Neuropsychologia Volume 46,1429-41.

Hirstein, W. (2005). Brain Fiction: Self-Deception and the Riddle of Confabulation. Cambridge: MIT.

Jingo, M. (Producer), & Kurosawa, A. (Director). (1950). Rashomon [Motion picture]. Japan: Daiei Film Co., Ltd.

Johnson, M. K., S. Hashtroudi and S.D. Lindsay. (2013). Source Monitoring. Psychological Bulletin Volume114, Number 1, 3-28.

Malcolm, D. (2002). Understanding Ian McEwan. South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press.

McEwan, I. (1992). Black Dogs. London: Vintage-Random, 1998.

Memoir-novel. (2001). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. In C. Baldick (Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rimmon-Kenan, S. (2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. 2nd (Ed.) London: Routledge.

Roediger, H. L. and K. B. McDermott. (1995). Creating False Memories: Remembering Words Not Presented in Lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition Volume 21, Number 4, 803-14.

Roediger, H. L. and K. A. DeSoto. (2001). Psychology of Reconstructive Memory. In N. J. Smelser and P. B. Baltes (Eds.). International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 12844-49. Oxford: Elsevier.

Saynor, J. (1992). Hell in a Country Lane. Observer 14 June 1992, 8–9.

Schacter, D. L. (2001). The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers. Boston: Mifflin.

Scholes, R., J. Phelan and R. Kellogg. (2006). The Nature of the Narrative. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stoica, I. (2011). Multiple Faces of Reality in the novel Black Dogs by Ian McEwan. Proceedings of International Conference on European Integration between Tradition and Modernity, October 27-28, 2011. Volume 3, 696-701. Târgu-Mureș: Universitatea Petru Maior.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157