Time and Reality: Studies in Contemporary Fiction

Time and Reality: Studies in Contemporary Fiction

Time and Reality: Studies in Contemporary Fiction

Time and Reality: Studies in Contemporary Fiction

Excerpt

Although Bergson has been used as a starting point for these discussions of time, it is obvious that the authors to be dealt with often go far beyond Bergson or modify his theory in practice. Through Bergson's durcée, or mind time as some have called it, subject and object are fused. In translating the sense of durée into literature the difficulty is to obviate the cold constructions of abstract thought and at the same time to retain a sense of form. Pure durée is, one suspects, incapable of becoming the sole basis of a work of art. The Proustian catalyst, a sense of the observer, or form break in on the stream of mind time.

Thus in James Joyce's work we often find a sense of the observer or the omniscient author breaking up the identification of subject and object, destroying the pure sense of durée. This is true of A Portrait and of parts of Ulysses. A more formal means of containment is that of the Viconian cycles employed in Finnegans Wake to bring order to the chaos of the dream. On the other hand, a close approach to pure duration comes . . .

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