dalemark and linear thought.

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Jul 25 05:33:26 EDT 2003


> If you really want to figure the Hexwood thing out for yourself read no
> further, because I think I might be going to spoil that for you.
>
>
> Have you read *Tom's Midnight Garden* by Phillipa Pearce?  The chronology
> in that would drive you mad if you tried to make it linear.  The main line
> is ok, Tom goes into the garden every night in a chronological sequence;
> but what he finds/meets there follows no sort of sensible order, really,
> though sometimes it seems to.

Here I feel like reaching for my plot/story distinction again.... I've been
thinking about the various variables, and have come up with the following
categories, which anyone who wants should feel free to muck around with, add
to, discard, etc.

a) The King of Hearts approach: series of chronological events told in
chronological order (e.g. The Three Little Pigs)

b) Stories in which a series of straightforwardly chronological events which
is neverthless *told* out of order, using flashbacks, flashforwards, etc.
for reasons of narrative technique (i.e. to increase the reader's
excitement, tension, surprise, etc.) (e.g. Lord of the Rings)

c) Stories in which things being told in the 'wrong' order carries an
implication about the nature of memory, the interconnectedness of different
periods in our emotional lives, etc. (e.g. Cat's Eye, since I'm mentioning
Atwood today, and quite possibly A la Recherche though here I defer to
people who've actually read it).

d) Stories in which things being told in the 'wrong' order carries an
implication about the nature of time and/or causality (e.g. Red Shift)

e) Stories in which things being told in the 'wrong' order carries an
implication about the nature of narrative and narration, the relationship of
the storyteller to the fictional world (can't think of an classic example
offhand, but I can imagine it...)

f) Stories in which things happening in the 'wrong' order is an explicit
part of the plot, which can be consciously experienced and reflected on by
the characters: e.g. Hexwood and TMG. Of course, they arguably also belong
to categories c, d and e!

g) Stories that involve two or more time frames running at different speeds
(e.g. Narnian time runs faster than earth time, though not in any
predictable way). This is an odd one out, but I offer it anyway.

Charlie





Books that have a thesis about a) time (Red Shift), b) memory (shall we say,
A la Recherche)And that again is of course different from a book about a
series of events told in the order of those events.


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