Sunday, 21 November 2010

Time in the Novel

Lukács thinks the novel, as the distinctive asethetic attempt to represent the life of existentially disenchanted and 'homeless' mankind, is incapable of what we might call the 'Grecian Urn' stillness of the epic: 'only the novel, the literary form of the transcendent homelessness of the idea, includes real time -- Bergson's dureé -- among its constitutive principles' [Theory of the Novel, 121]. The obvious move is to note that, written as it was during the First World War, Lukács's is one of the last great theories of narrative not to include cinema, that other great artform to include Bergson's dureé among its constitutive principles. But I'm less interested in the obvious move. I'd propose a different strategy: a naif literalism, that sees not the novel as such, but the science fiction novel, as the fullest embodiment of this notion; all those children of Wells's Time Machine.

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