|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||London Fields (novel)|
|Followed by||The Information (novel)|
Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence (1991) is a novel by Martin Amis. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991. It is notable partly because the events occur in a reverse chronology, with time passing in reverse and the main character becoming younger and younger during the novel.
The novel recounts the life of a German Holocaust doctor in reverse chronology. The narrator, together with the reader, experiences time passing in reverse. The narrator is not exactly the protagonist himself but a secondary consciousness apparently living within him, feeling his feelings but with no access to his thoughts and no control over events. Some passages may be interpreted as hinting that this narrator may in some way be the conscience, but this is not clear. The narrator may alternatively be considered merely a necessary device to narrate a reverse chronology.[ citation needed ]
Amis engages in several forms of reverse discourse including reverse dialogue, reverse narrative, and reverse explanation. Amis's use of these techniques is aimed to create an unsettling and irrational aura for the reader; indeed, one of the recurrent themes in the novel is the narrator's persistent misinterpretation of events. For example, he simply accepts that people wait for an hour in a physician's waiting room after being examined, although at some points he has doubts about this tradition. Relationships are portrayed with stormy beginnings that slowly fade into pleasant romances. Although the narrator accepts all this, he is puzzled and feels that the world does not really make sense.
The reverse narrative begins in America, where the doctor is first living in retirement and then practicing medicine. He is always fearful of something and does not want to be too conspicuous. Later he changes his identity and moves to New York. (Considering the story forward, he escaped Europe after the war and succeeded in settling in America, with the assistance of a Reverend Nicholas Kreditor who apparently assists war criminals in hiding.) In 1948 he travels (in reverse) to Portugal, from where he makes his way to Auschwitz.
The doctor, Odilo Unverdorben, assists "Uncle Pepi" (modelled on Josef Mengele) in his torture and murder of Jews. While at Auschwitz, the reverse chronology means that he creates life and heals the sick, rather than the opposite.
What tells me that this is right? What tells me that all the rest was wrong? Certainly not my aesthetic sense. I would never claim that Auschwitz-Birkenau-Monowitz was good to look at. Or to listen to, or to smell, or to taste, or to touch. There was, among my colleagues there, a general though desultory quest for greater elegance. I can understand that word, and all its yearning: elegant. Not for its elegance did I come to love the evening sky above the Vistula, hellish red with the gathering souls. Creation is easy. Also ugly. Hier ist kein warum. Here there is no why. Here there is no when, no how, no where. Our preternatural purpose? To dream a race. To make a people from the weather. From thunder and from lightning. With gas, with electricity, with shit, with fire.(p119-120, Vintage edition, 1992)
In the reversed version of reality, not only is simple chronology reversed (people become younger, and eventually become children, then babies, and then re-enter their mothers' wombs, where they finally cease to exist) but so is morality. Blows heal injuries, doctors cause them. Theft becomes donation, and vice versa. In a passage about prostitutes, doctors harm them while pimps give them money and heal them. When the protagonist reaches Auschwitz, however, the world starts to make sense. A whole new race is created.[ clarification needed ]
Amis first thought up the idea of telling a man's life backwards in time two years before the novel was published. He found a fertile ground for that structure when his friend Robert Jay Lifton gave him a copy of his book, The Nazi Doctors, about the involvement of German doctors in World War II, from Action T4 to the extermination camps. The alternative title for the novel is taken from Primo Levi's The Truce :
So for us even the hour of liberty rang out grave and muffled, and filled our souls with joy and yet with a painful sense of pudency, so that we would have liked to wash our consciences and our memories clean from the foulness that lay upon them; and also with anguish, because we felt that this should never happen, that now nothing could ever happen good and pure enough to rub out our past, and that the scars of the outrage would remain within us forever... Because, and this is the awful privilege of our generation and of my people, no one better than us has ever been able to grasp the incurable nature of the offense, that spreads like a contagion. It is foolish to think that human justice can eradicate it.
Amis also mentioned the critical influence of If This Is a Man , The Drowned and the Saved , and Moments of Reprieve .
And Amis's Afterword to this novel acknowledges his debt to a famous paragraph in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five: the Dresden firebombing passage in which Billy Pilgrim watches, backwards, a late-night movie of American bombers recovering their bombs from a German city in flames.
According to Amis's autobiographythe story is narrated by the soul of Odilo.
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Martin Louis Amis was an English novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels Money (1984) and London Fields (1989). He received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his memoir Experience and was twice listed for the Booker Prize. Amis served as Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing from 2007 until 2011. In 2008, The Times named him one of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945.
In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode or method that attempts "to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind" of a narrator. The term was coined by Daniel Oliver in 1840 in First Lines of Physiology: Designed for the Use of Students of Medicine, when he wrote,
If we separate from this mingled and moving stream of consciousness, our sensations and volitions, which are constantly giving it a new direction, and suffer it to pursue its own spontaneous course, it will appear, upon examination, that this, instead of being wholly fortuitous and uncertain, is determined by certain fixed laws of thought, which are collectively termed the association of ideas.
Narration is the use of a written or spoken commentary to convey a story to an audience. Narration is conveyed by a narrator: a specific person, or unspecified literary voice, developed by the creator of the story to deliver information to the audience, particularly about the plot: the series of events. Narration is a required element of all written stories, presenting the story in its entirety. However, narration is merely optional in most other storytelling formats, such as films, plays, television shows, and video games, in which the story can be conveyed through other means, like dialogue between characters or visual action.
A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction. When it happens near the end of a story, it is known as a twist or surprise ending. It may change the audience's perception of the preceding events, or introduce a new conflict that places it in a different context. A plot twist may be foreshadowed, to prepare the audience to accept it, but it usually comes with some element of surprise. There are various methods used to execute a plot twist, such as withholding information from the audience, or misleading them with ambiguous or false information. Not every plot has a twist, but some have multiple lesser ones, and some are defined by a single major twist.
London Fields is a blackly comic murder mystery novel by the British writer Martin Amis, published in 1989. The tone gradually shifts from high comedy, interspersed with deep personal introspections, to a dark sense of foreboding and eventually panic at the approach of the deadline, or "horror day", the climactic scene alluded to on the very first page.
Reverse chronology is a narrative structure and method of storytelling whereby the plot is revealed in reverse order.
Nonlinear narrative, disjointed narrative, or disrupted narrative is a narrative technique, sometimes used in literature, film, video games, and other narratives, where events are portrayed, for example, out of chronological order or in other ways where the narrative does not follow the direct causality pattern of the events featured, such as parallel distinctive plot lines, dream immersions or narrating another story inside the main plot-line.
Money: A Suicide Note is a 1984 novel by Martin Amis. In 2005, Time included the novel in its "100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present". The novel is based on Amis's experience as a script writer on the feature film Saturn 3, a Kirk Douglas vehicle. The novel was dramatised by the BBC in 2010.
Night Train (1997) is a comedic parody of American detective novels by the author Martin Amis, named after the song "Night Train", which features twice in the novel.
Justine, published in 1957, is the first volume in Lawrence Durrell's literary tetralogy, The Alexandria Quartet. The tetralogy consists of four interlocking novels, each of which recounts various aspects of a complex story of passion and deception from differing points of view. The quartet is set in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in the 1930s and 1940s. The city itself is described by Durrell as becoming as much of a complex character as the human protagonists of the novels. Since first becoming available to the public and reviewers in 1957, Justine has inspired what has been called "an almost religious devotion among readers and critics alike." It was adapted into the film of the same name in 1969.
Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich's debut novel, first published in 1984. Erdrich revised and expanded the novel in subsequent 1993 and 2009 editions. The book follows the lives of five interconnected Ojibwe families living on fictional reservations in Minnesota and North Dakota. The collection of stories in the book spans six decades from the 1930s to the 1980s. Love Medicine garnered critical praise and won numerous awards, including the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award.
The Information is a 1995 novel by British writer Martin Amis. The plot involves two forty-year-old novelists, Gwyn Barry (successful) and Richard Tull. Amis has asserted that both characters are based on himself. It is, says Amis, a book about "literary enmity".
The Art of Fiction is a book of literary criticism by the British academic and novelist David Lodge. The chapters of the book first appeared in 1991-1992 as weekly columns in The Independent on Sunday and were eventually gathered into book form and published in 1992. The essays as they appear in the book have in many cases been expanded from their original format.
House of Meetings, by Martin Amis, is a 2006 novel about two brothers who share a common love interest while living in a Soviet gulag during the last decade of Stalin's rule. This novel was written by Amis during a two-year-long self-imposed exile in Uruguay following the release and tepid reception afforded to his 2003 novel Yellow Dog. The writing of House of Meetings "precipitated (another) creative crisis" for Amis, which Amis reflected upon in 2010:
"You see those Posy Simmonds cartoons of people by the pool having cocktails and saying into the Dictaphone, 'On the second day, the last child died,'" he says. "And I was in Uruguay, with my beautiful wife and beautiful daughters, living a completely stressless life. So I had to do my suffering on the page and, Christ, did I do it. I was very nervous about that book."
The Rachel Papers is Martin Amis's first novel, published in 1973 by Jonathan Cape.
Other People is a novel by British writer Martin Amis, published in 1981.
The Pregnant Widow is a novel by the English writer Martin Amis, published by Jonathan Cape on 4 February 2010. Its theme is the feminist revolution, which Amis sees as incomplete and bewildering for women, echoing the view of the 19th-century Russian writer, Alexander Herzen, that revolution is "a long night of chaos and desolation". The "pregnant widow", a phrase taken from Herzen's From the other shore (1848–1850), is the point at which the old order has given way, the new one not yet born. Amis said in 2007 that "consciousness is not revolutionised by the snap of a finger. And feminism, I reckon, is about halfway through its second trimester."
Dead Babies is Martin Amis's second novel, published in 1975 by Jonathan Cape. It was published in paperback as Dark Secrets. Amis's second novel—a parody of Agatha Christie's country-house mysteries—takes place over a single weekend at a manor called Appleseed Rectory. In 2000, the book was adapted into a film of the same name, starring Paul Bettany and Olivia Williams. In 2001, BBC critic David Wood wrote "Amis's second novel ranks among his most incendiary with its mordant wit, black comedy, and sense of the violently absurd."
Success is Martin Amis's third novel, published in 1978 by Jonathan Cape.
The Zone of Interest is the fourteenth novel by the English author Martin Amis, published in 2014. Set in Auschwitz, it tells the story of a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant's wife. The story is conveyed by three narrators: Angelus Thomsen, the officer; Paul Doll, the commandant; and Szmul Zacharias, a Jewish Sonderkommando.