ABSTRACT

Western culture tends to separate the notion of phenomenological time (subjective time experienced in individual consciousness) from cosmological time (objective time, accessible through the clock), arguing that they take place on different levels and have no connection. This classic opposition is challenged in two time-travel novels, John Wray’s The Lost Time Accidents (2016) and Adam Roberts’s The Thing Itself (2015). Untypically of time-travel plots, the two texts explore the relationship between human consciousness and time so as to dismantle and transgress it. While The Lost Time Accidents proposes that there is external time, yet even if we could perceive it, the picture would be tainted by our consciousness, The Thing Itself goes further and proffers—consistently with Immanuel Kant’s ideas, which it enacts—that there is no space or time in the external world; they are instead parts of human consciousness, used to order reality. The novels thus revise the simplistic opposition between phenomenological and cosmological time, advancing the two temporal experiences as two aspects of consciousness of time that complement each other.

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