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

Chapter 1 - Aging Theory


The chapter “Aging Theory” makes three related points about the intersection of narrative, time, and aging. First, it draws on the idea of surface reading to argue for renewed attention to the effects of aging. By drawing aging to the surface of the body and its representation in the novel, this approach resists the modern tendency of repressing the duration of aging. The second section draws together the diachronic analyses of narrative theory with the metaphysics of Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze, contending that the reader’s temporal encounter with the materiality of a text’s discourse serves as a tacit reminder of the reader’s own aging. By doing so, narrative temporality reflects to the reader the very duration that falls out of his or her experience of aging. The final section suggests that the novel’s realism naturalizes a crisis model of character development by positing life-changing events as a part of “everyday” reality. As realism relies upon a model of change where duration surprisingly disappears, it diminishes the role of aging in the development of subjectivity over time.

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