Time and space in 'Tristram Shandy' and other eighteenth century novels : the issues of progression and continuity
The thesis argues that the narratives of the eighteenth-century novels selected for this study demonstrate a conscious manipulation of time and space, and that the consequence of this manipulation is to provide the reader with a unique literary journey through the text. The thesis, in its analysis and comparison of these distinctive journeys, chooses to focus on the narrative techniques which facilitate or hamper progression and continuity within the texts. It particularly concentrates on the impact of these narrative techniques on the reading experience. The first chapter studies and compares texts resorting mainly to the present tense with those predominantly written in the past tense. It examines the effects of the tense used in the narration on the reader's engrossment in the fiction. The second chapter concentrates on the repercussions of the author's choice of a beginning and an ending for his story on the nature of the progression of the narrative. The third chapter is devoted to the destabilising reading journey offered by Tristram Shandy. It examines the numerous techniques which react against continuity and progression in time and in space, and the narrator's motivation behind their use. It shows how the narrative choices of Tristram Shandy place the reader face to face with his own act of reading. The fourth and final chapter is concerned with the role and the status of fictional footnotes in some eighteenth-century prose fictions. It demonstrates the fictional nature of the footnotes in Tom Jones. It argues that fictional footnotes affect the reader's progression across the text in time and in space as well as his understanding of the work of fiction, and this in a fundamental way.