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Title: The final frontier : the concept of time in the writings of Martin Amis
Author: Burgess, Claire Valerie.
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2004
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A consistent concern in the fiction of Martin Amis is the idea of time and how our experience of time defines our sense of possibility and capacity for renewal. Amis recurrently engages in dynamic play with both his reader and his characters as he explores this idea of time as the essence of what it is to be human: 'Time passed. Time, the human dimension, which makes us everything we are' (TA, p. 76). Through his depiction of the distorted perception, the alienated and fractured states of psychosis, in the characters of Einstein's Monsters, Amis asks us to consider what has happened to our sense of time in the twentieth century, and indeed our new century, with its nuclear, technological and environmental threats. These advances, he believes, have made our individual and collective relationship with time problematic. This thesis sets out to pursue the ramifications of Amis's preoccupation with the problem of time throughout his fiction with the aid of narrative theorists such as Paul Ricoeur, Gerard Genette, Mikhail Bakhtin and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth. In Chapter Two of my thesis I analyse the sense of the past as it reverberates in the characters of Success and Other People: A Mystery Story. This idea is further explored. in Chapter Three, with respect to the frantic, suicidal character of John Self in Money, in order to show how a sense of the extended present saves Self from perverse self-annihilation. The prospective nightmare ofnucIear holocaust as perceived by Jonathan Schell, a powerful influence on the writing of Einstein's Monsters, is the subject of Chapter Four. The structure of regeneration that Amis creates in the reversed narrative of Time 's Arrow is the subject of Chapter Five, which considers his acknowledged debt to Robert Jay Lifton's seminal work, The Nazi Doctors. The related concerns ofthe cosmological perspective on time and the author's preoccupation with immortality are discussed in Chapter Six. Amis's treatment of suicide, murder, motive and interrogation is addressed in Chapter Seven with reference to the protagonist and astrophysicist, Jennifer Rockwell in Night Train. In Chapter Eight I consider the dialogue Amis conducts with time through the autobiographical material of Experience. The concluding chapter of my study, 'Towards a Map of Transcendence', examines Amis's ability to challenge conventional notions of temporality and free us from the deranging, manipulative effects of entrenched systems of representation. For it is in his attempt to forge fresh perceptions of time that Amis' s poetic prose approaches transcendence and, paradoxically, an intimation of timelessness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available