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FICTIONS OF THE NOT YET. Time in the 21 st Century British Novel Dr Caroline Edwards Lecturer in English, University of Lincoln Writers of the Not Yet. Investigating time in fiction: the 3 challenges. (1) Overcoming the hypertrophy of memory.

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Time in the 21 st century british novel dr caroline edwards


Time in the 21st Century British Novel

Dr Caroline Edwards

Lecturer in English, University of Lincoln

Investigating time in fiction the 3 challenges
Investigating time in fiction: the 3 challenges

(1) Overcoming the hypertrophy of memory

(2) Overcoming social


(3) Overcoming the


Gulliver s problem of scale or contemporary utopian theory
Gulliver’s problem of scale, or,contemporary utopian theory

  • immanent space of open contradiction that cannot be synthesised or reconciled

  • (2) a dialectical space – mediatory function between subject positions or philosophical entities

  • (3) textual or discursive

  • (4) broader and radicalised mode of political and cultural opposition to hegemonic social norms

  • (5) this dialectical / textual site of contradiction achieves such radical alterity not through some futural projection but concretely within the presentmoment itself

Bloch s concept of the noch nicht not yet
Bloch’s concept of the Noch Nicht (Not Yet)

The Principle of Hope, Vols. 1, 2, 3 (1938-1947) [1986]

  • Anticipatory consciousness (model of the preconscious – critique of Freud)

  • “Real-Possible” – concrete versus abstract utopia

  • The “Novum” – radically new social content

  • Utopian temporalities – championing of process and critique of fixity

  • “Warm” and “cold” streams of Marxism

  • Venturers Beyond the Limits

    Heritage of Our Times (1935) [1991]

  • Ungleichzeitigkeit (non-contemporaneity)

    Spirit of Utopia (1918) [2000]

  • Transmigration of spirit

    The Philosophy of the Future (1963) [1970]

    Atheism in Christianity (1968) [1972]

  • Natural historical times

Metachronous times refunctioning the noch nicht
Metachronous times: Refunctioning the Noch Nicht


Logic of spectrality


Messianic cessation

of time


Venturers beyond the


Adrian Leverkühn

(Thomas Mann,

Doctor Faustus, 1947)

Angelus Novus

(Paul Klee, 1920)

Hamlet’s ghost

(Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1599-1601)

Case study 1 minor utopian moments of possibility death
CASE STUDY 1Minor utopian moments of possibility (death)

Ali Smith

Hotel World

(Hamish Hamilton, 2001)

John Burnside


(Cape, 2008)

Jon McGregor

If Nobody Speaks of

Remarkable Things

(Bloomsbury, 2002)

Case study 2 networking utopian moments transmigration
CASE STUDY 2Networking utopian moments (transmigration)

Jeanette Winterson

The PowerBook

(Cape, 2000)

Marina Warner

The Leto Bundle

(Chatto & Windus, 2001)

David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas

(Sceptre, 2004)

Case study 3 co evolutionary futures post apocalypse
CASE STUDY 3Co-evolutionary futures (post/apocalypse)

Sam Taylor

The Island at the End

Of the World

(Faber, 2009)

Maggie Gee

The Flood

(Saqi, 2004)

Jim Crace

The Pesthouse

(Picador, 2007)

Typology utopian moments of possibility
Typology | utopian “moments of possibility”

  • Framework of a narratorial space outside of time – John Burnside’s Glister (2008), Maggie Gee’s The Flood (2004)

  • Life after death, death within life – Ali Smith’s Hotel World (2001), Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs (2010)

  • Exploring the dialectic between being “stuck in time” (immanent) and “outside of time” (transcendent) – Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook (2000), David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten (1999)

  • Arresting time, alternative futures – Jon McGregor’s If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2001)

  • Networking historical times (transmigration) – Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook (2000), Marina Warner’s The Leto Bundle (2001), David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2005)

  • Apocalyptic pasts and futures – Maggie Gee’s The Flood (2004), Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse (2007), Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007), Sam Taylor’s The Island at the End of the World (2009)

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