Chronotopic Shaping and Reshaping in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Octavia E. Butler's Kindred

Mikhail Bakhtin, in his essay "Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel," argues that the "chronotope" of a literary work – the configuration of time and space in the fictional world that the text projects – is inextricably connected with its characters: "the image of man in literature… is always intrinsically chronotopic." (Bakhtin, 85). In this paper I will apply his theory to two radically different texts that deal with time travel: H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Octavia Butler's Kindred.

H.G. Wells' The Time Machine contains three different chronotopes: the chronotope of the novella's frame narrative, the chronotope of the future world of 802,701, and the chronotope of the post-apocalyptic world. The chronotope of the frame narrative is the time travel chronotope, in which temporality and spatiality fuse together: time becomes "a fourth dimension of Space" (Wells, 8), and therefore it is a nexus in which both time and space are isotropic. A corollary of this unified space-time continuum is predestination, because the ability to travel through time presupposes a fixed history, in order to avoid various logical paradoxes, such as the grandfather paradox. Hence, the...

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