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Time TravelThe Popular Philosophy of Narrative$
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David Wittenberg

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823249961

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823249961.001.0001

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Introduction: Time Travel and the Mechanics of Narrative

Introduction: Time Travel and the Mechanics of Narrative

(p.1) Introduction: Time Travel and the Mechanics of Narrative
Time Travel

David Wittenberg

Fordham University Press

The Introduction begins the theoretical discussion of time travel and narrative theory with interpretations of three representative texts from the late 1960s: Robert Silverberg's Up the Line, Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man, and Larry Niven's “All the Myriad Ways.” In each case, time travel narrative exhibits essential problems of narrative theory, historiography, and the philosophy of time, all in the guise of literal plot events and mechanical devices. The Introduction concludes with a discussion of the contemporary context of time travel studies in literary criticism, media and film studies, philosophy, and physics. Finally, the structure of the book as a whole is briefly described, laying out what Wittenberg identifies as three historical phases of time travel fiction: the “evolutionary utopian travel” or “macrologue” phase (approximately 1880s to 1905), the “paradox” phase (approximately early 1920s to 1940s), and the “multiverse/filmic” phase (approximately mid-twentieth century to the present). Overall, Wittenberg argues that time travel fictions are simultaneously a minor or idiosyncratic subgenre of popular literature, and a paradigmatic instance of narrative structure and literary form—in short, a “narratological laboratory” for studying and testing fundamental principles of storytelling.

Keywords:   Robert Silverberg, Michael Moorcock, Larry Niven, physics, film studies, narratology, narrative theory, philosophy of time

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