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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 4 - A Wrinkle in Time

Summary

In my fourth chapter on Thomas Hardy’s The Well-Beloved, “A Wrinkle in Time,” I argue that the sexual escapades of an aging artist subvert the naturalist plot of decline. Instead of modeling the human lifespan on a parabola that begins with youthful possibility, reaches its apex in adulthood, and declines into senescence and death, The Well-Beloved demonstrates the opening of queer, non-normative desire as one ages. This chapter examines the discourses of evolutionary biology and geology as providing the late-nineteenth century with non-linear models for the human lifespan. These scientific models, I argue, have a narrative counterpart in the counterfactual, or the imagination of what might have occurred in the past but did not. The use of counterfactual thinking in narrative enables Hardy to construct an ambivalent attitude toward the aging of his protagonist, who inverts the horizon of possibility away from the future toward a past that he struggles to remake.

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