Date published:

(Im)politeness in McEwan’s Fiction: Literary Pragma-Stylistics by Urszula Kizelbach

It is our pleasure to announce that a new book by Dr. Urszula Kizelbach, (Im)politeness in McEwan’s Fiction: Literary Pragma-Stylistics was published by Palgrave Macmillan on February 26, 2023.

This book is a pragma-stylistic study of Ian McEwan’s fiction and it analyses his selected novels using (im)politeness theory. (Im)politeness is investigated on two levels: the intradiegetic level of the plot and the story world and the extradiegetic level of the communication between the implied author and implied reader in fiction. The pragmatic theory of (im)politeness serves the aim of internal characterisation, based on the stylistic analysis of the characters’ speech and thoughts and point of view. More importantly, the book introduces the notion of “the impoliteness of the literary fiction” – a state of affairs where the implied author expresses their impolite beliefs to the reader through the text, which has face-threatening consequences for the audience, e.g. moral shock or disgust, dissociation from the protagonist, feeling hurt or ‘put out’. Extradiegetic impoliteness, one of the key characteristics of McEwan’s fiction, offers an alternative to the literary concept of “a secret communion of the author and reader” (Booth 1961), describing an ideal connection, or good rapport, between these two participants of fictional communication. This book aims to unite literary scholars and linguists in the debate on the benefits of combining pragmatics and stylistics in literary analysis, and it will be of interest to a wide audience in both fields.


“Urszula Kizelbach’s new book is a landmark study of the fiction of Ian McEwan and a major contribution to pragmatic stylistics. Offering a principled and systematic analysis of the operation of politeness and impoliteness in McEwan’s novels, (Im)politeness in McEwan’s Fiction: Literary Pragma-Stylistics is a significant contribution both to literary scholarship and to pragmatics and stylistics. Literary scholars and linguists alike will find much to enjoy here.”
Dan McIntyre, Uppsala University, Sweden

“Kizelbach’s book is a pleasure to read. The author achieves a really good job by cross-fertilising stylistics, which is a rather traditional area often still anchored in the Brown and Levinsonian paradigm, with the more robust and up-to-date field of linguistic politeness research. Kizelbach expertly covers a wealth of issues with relevance to the politeness scholars, such as the role of morality in language use. I recommend this book for both linguists and lay readers with interest in language use in literary texts.”  
Dániel Kádár, Ordinary Member of Europaea Academia / Dalian University of Foreign Languages in China

Cover image designed by Klaudia Majdowska