Tag Archives: time

Supplementing the Narrative

“Watch yourself,” Cash says.
“I’m on it now,” Jewel says. “You can come ahead now.”
Cash takes the reins and lowers the team carefully and skillfully into the
stream.
I felt the current take us and I knew we were on the ford by that reason,
since it was only by means of that slipping contact that we could tell that we
were in motion at all. What had once been a -flat surface was now a succession
of troughs and hillocks lifting and falling about us, shoving at us, teasing at
us with light lazy touches in the vain instants of solidity underfoot. Cash
looked back at me, and then I knew that we were gone. But I did not realise the
reason for the rope until I saw the log. It surged up out of the water and
stood for an instant upright upon that surging and heaving desolation like
Christ. Get out and let the current take you down to the bend, Cash said. You
can make it all right. No, I said, I’d get just as wet that way as this
The log appears suddenly between two hills, as if it had rocketed suddenly
from the bottom of the river (147-48).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: The Modern Library, 2000. Print.

The italicized excerpt from one of Darl’s chapters changes tense in the middle of scene in which the wagon turns over into the water, a scene that is progressing in the story, shifting from present tense narrative with direct-reported discourse, to past tense narrative and indirect discourse, and then back to present tense and direct-reported discourse. This peculiar moment seems as though it was placed into the story a-chronologically in order to supplement the story in a later edition, as though at the time of the experience, Darl could not possibly have comprehended his surroundings enough to fully tell the story, highlighting the problems that can occur when narrative attempts to convey experience.

Time and Authority

“Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority, and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop in Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information gratis, that it was half-past one” (111).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1997. Print.

The striking clocks in Mrs. Dalloway appear multiple times throughout the novel to allude to time as a controlling force as it “upheld authority.” As the people of London walk through expensive, aristocratic Harley Street, Woolf illustrates that all the people of London, despite which class they belong to, will eventually fall to the fate of time and temporality.

Time and youth

“But she feared time itself and read on Lady Bruton’s face, as if it had been a dial cut in impassive stone, the dwindling life; how year by year her share was sliced; how little the margin that remained was capable any longer stretching of absorbing, as in  the youthful years, the colors, salts, tone of existence, so that she filled the room as she entered and felt often as she stood hesitating one moment on the threshold of her drawing-room, an exquisite suspense…”(30).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. p.30

We see time become a key important theme within the novel and it is interesting to see that she referring to Clarissa who fears time itself, but yet time goes slow throughout the novel which makes it quite ironic. She sees her life dwindling down and she does not want it to end since she wants to feel the youthful years once again. Woolf uses strong diction to describe youth like tone of existence and colors since young people are usually filled with life while older women feel the color fades and grows quite hesitant.

Stream of Consciousness and Memories in Mrs. Dalloway

“There was Regent’s Park.  Yes.  As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought.  They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).

Source:

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.

Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes.  As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.

Importance of Time

“The sounds of Big Ben striking the half-hour stuc out between them with extraordinary vigour, as if a young man, strong, indifferent, inconsiderate, were swinging dumb-bells this way and that.” (Woolf 48).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc., 1925. Print.

The idea of time is so important in this passage because it humanizes “time” by describing Big Ben as a “young man” and throughout the story Big Ben disrupts people during their daily routine, reminds them of their time, and helps them become aware of their time while also pacing them. Big Ben is constantly mentioned throughout the story almost making it seem to the reader as if it was one of the main characters. It keeps reminding the characters in the story that time is important and can not be wasted.

Passage of Time

“In the old days Hortons Bay was a lumbering town.  No one who lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the lake.  Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber.  The lumber schooners came into the bay and were laded with the cut of the mill that stood stacked in the yard.  All the piles of lumber were carried away.  The big mill building had all its machinery that was removable taken out and hoisted on board one of the schooners by the men who had worked in the mill … the sails of the schooner filled and it moved out into the open lake, carrying with it everything that had made the mill a mill and Hortons Bay a town.

Ten years later there was nothing of the mill left except the broken white limestone of its foundations showing through the swampy second growth as Nick and Marjorie rowed along the shore” (31).

There’s a lot of dealing with the passage of time and the cycles of life in this book.  Here, more than ten years pass in less than a page as Hemingway concisely represents the town in its noisy heyday down to when there is nothing at all left of it.  I was struck by how all of that life was stripped down both by time and by his description of it.

 

Hemingway, Ernest. “The End of Something.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. Print.

Modernity: Beyond the Chains of Time and Space

“The rushing after lost time, the frantic quest for the present, the rage to be “contemporaries of all mankind” (as Octavio Paz put it) — all these things are typical of the search for a way to enter literary time and thereby attain artistic salvation.”

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 91.

This passage portrays modernity in a peculiar way. The term “artistic salvation” is intriguing in the way that it captures the intentions of so many authors across time. Salvation means that the work will be preserved from being harmed or lost, thus placing the work in a realm outside of time and space, free from the changing trends and modes of literature. Of course, we can consider this to be what happens to a book when it becomes a classic, but Casanova uses this to point out the contradictions of being “modern.” If a classic, a book that has been preserved, is beyond the chains of time, then the quest for being modern is also the quest for writing something outside of time (“literary time”), not the quest to be “connect[ed] with fashion” (91).

Modernity and the Classic

“The modern work is condemned to become dated unless, by achieving the status of a classic, it manages to free itself from the fluctuations of taste and critical opinion… Literarily speaking, a classic is a work that rises above competition and so escapes the bidding of time. Only in this way can a modern work be rescued from aging, by being declared timeless and immortal.” (92)

Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. Translated by M. B. DeBevoise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Whereas the modern author tries desperately to be as modern and contemporary as possible, his real success, paradoxically, is creating something that is timeless and classic – and by doing so, defining what it is to be literature.

Modernity changes with time

“The modern work is condemned to become dated unless, by achieving the status of a classic, it manages to free itself from the fluctuations of taste and critical opinion… Literarily speaking, a classic is a work that rises above competition and so escapes the bidding of time. Only in this way can a modern work be rescued from aging, by being declared timeless and immortal. The classic incarnates literary legitimacy itself, which is to say what is recognized as constituting Literature; what, in serving as a unit of measure, supplies the basis for determining the limits of that which is considered to be literary.”

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 92.

Casanova seems to be suggesting that what it means to be a truly modern work is constantly changing with those writing in different styles and coming up with the “most recent innovations in form and technique”; that is unless it is great enough to reach the status of a classic. From my understanding, Casanova is attempting to describe a modern work with a greater focus on the word “modern” which attempts to constantly grasp at the present while claiming its legitimacy as literature only if it were great enough to become a classic.