Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Caroline C. Maun
There were important changes about understanding of time in the early 20th century. Newtonian view of time that supports linearity and irreversibility of time was challenged in various fields. This trend promoted high modernists to seek new representations of time.
On the whole, high modernists denied Newtonian view of time and tried to describe merging of the past, the present, and the future. They often envisioned a romantic moment, in which this merging is perfectly achieved. But unlike European high modernists, American high modernists were more attracted to a traditional understanding of time that emphasizes a decisive difference between the past and the present, or the present and the future. As a result, two almost contradictory ideas about time, the traditional and the advanced, coexist in their works, which gives uniqueness to the works of American high modernists. Also, in their works, a romantic moment appears in the past, which is decisively different from the present, while it often appears in the present in the works of European high modernists.
In The Great Gatsby Scott Fitzgerald depicts Nick, a modern man who has a complex sense of time. Nick tries to dramatize Gatsby, create a meaningful time by telling a mythic tale, and redeem his past, which proves futile in the end. However, the novel also shows a romantic moment in the past, in which the present and the past merge and time is redeemed.
In his short stories, Hemingway tried to achieve the merging of time by imposing the present on the past or the future on the present with his unique style. But this style also makes clearer the boundary between each tense. This representation of time, which embraces internal contradiction, clearly shows conflict of Hemingway as a high modernist, who was torn between new and old understandings of time.
The Sound and the Fury shows that Faulkner was obviously conscious of how the previous high modernists represent time. He examines problems concerning various ways of recognition of time, including paradox inherent in recognition of time, and proposes Bergsonian view of time to overcome those problems.
Seki, Masahiko, "Time In American High Modernism: Reading Fitzgerald, Hemingway, And Faulkner" (2016). Wayne State University Dissertations. 1587.