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Title: Modernism and the politics of time : time and history in the work of H.G. Wells, D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf
Author: Shackleton, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 9875
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis argues for a revised understanding of time in modernist literature. It challenges the longstanding critical tradition that has used the French philosopher Henri Bergson's distinction between clock-time and durée to explicate time in the modernist novel. To do so, it replaces Stephen Kern's influential understanding of modernity as characterized by the solidification of a homogenous clock-time, with Peter Osborne’s notion of modernity as structured by a competing range of temporalizations of history. The following chapters then read the fictional and historical writings of H. G. Wells, D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf alongside such a conception of modernity, and show that all these writers explored different versions of historical time. Wells explored geological time in The Time Machine (1895) and An Outline of History (1920), Lawrence adapted Friedrich Nietzsche's thought of eternal recurrence in Women in Love (1920), Movements in European History (1921) and Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), and Woolf imagined an aeviternal historical continuity and a phenomenological historical time in Between the Acts (1941). By addressing historical time, this thesis enables a reassessment of the politics of modernist time. It challenges the view that the purported modernist exploration of a Bergsonian private time constitutes an asocial and ahistorical retreat from the political. Rather, by transferring Osborne's notion of a 'politics of time' to the literary sphere, this study argues that the competing configurations of politically-charged historical time in literary modernism, form the analogue of the competing versions of such a time within modernity, emblematized by the contrasting accounts of historical time of Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin.
Supervisor: Whitworth, Michael Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Modernism ; D.H. Lawrence ; H.G. Wells ; Virginia Woolf ; time ; history ; narrative