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Reading Time in Serial Fiction before Dickens.

It is fifty years since Gunter Muller's essay on the distinction between erzahlte Zeit (the narrated time) and Erzahlzeit (the time of narrating),[1] and in the intervening period narrative theory has preoccupied itself fruitfully with relations between the two. Yet the latter category has in general been seen as an awkward fiction, existing only as some vague extrapolation to be made from a measurable quantity of text. Gerard Genette devotes three chapters of his Discours du Recit to analysing 'relations between the time of the story and the (pseudo-) time of the narrative', but he signals his anxiety in the parenthesis: the second feature is no more than a convenient inference, mere '(pseudo-) time' as opposed to the real thing, because 'written narrative exists in space and as space', and 'has no other temporality than what it borrows, metonymically, from its own reading'.[2] He develops this reservation when insisting that the real duration of a narrative, as opposed to the space it occupies on paper, is necessarily unquantifiable: 'What we spontaneously call [the duration of a narrative] can be nothing more [. . .] than the time needed for reading; but it is too obvious that reading time varies according to particular circumstances, and that, unlike what happens in movies, or even in music, nothing here allows us to determine a "normal" speed of execution' (p. 86). In this Genette gains the agreement of Paul Ricoeur. 'What we are measuring, under the name of Erzahlzeit, is, as a matter of convention, a chronological time, equivalent to the number of pages and lines in the published work', writes Ricoeur in Time and Narrative, and he finds consensus between both Muller and Genette in their use of this term 'to be the equivalent of and the substitute for the time of reading, that is, the time it takes to cover or traverse the space of the text'. Indeed, the major revisions proposed by Ricoeur to the positions of both these predecessors begin from the same assumption: 'I shall not go back over the impossibility of measuring the duration of the narrative, if by this is meant the time of reading. Let us admit with Genette that we can only compare the respective speeds of the narrative and of the story, the speed always being defined by a relation between a temporal measure and a spatial one.'[3]

There can be no doubting the theoretical power of these studies, and no doubting the light they cast on the complex temporal relations between narrative and story in particular texts (A la recherche du temps perdu in Genette's case, to which Ricoeur adds Mrs Dalloway and Der Zauberberg). Yet by using such terms as 'reading time' or 'the time of reading' in this imprecise way, or by subsuming these terms within the category of Erzahlzeit or the time of narrating, they miss a further distinction available only to a narratology that looks beyond the text to consider its conditions of publication and reception. Rigorous scrutiny is turned by Genette on the relations (and specifically the variations and distortions) of order, duration, and frequency that exist between narrated story and narrative discourse in his chosen example, without significant reference being made to the way in which the elaborate interplay between these categories is complicated, at least for Proust's original audience, by a third temporal feature: the progressiveness of the work's disclosure between publication of Du cote de chez Swann in 1913 and that of Le temps retrouve fourteen years later. Yet publication over time is not a phenomenon confined to the exceptional category of the roman fleuve, and in Britain the serialization of individual novels (either in independent numbers or magazine instalments), though far from universal, is among the defining features of the genre in its classic (Victorian) period. When in this context we consider a category such as Genette's duration (which measures the acceleration or deceleration of the narrative text in relation to the events narrated), it becomes clear that in many cases the schedule of first publication, and thus the time of reading for the original audience, is a distinct feature that further complicates the experience of temporality in a narrative text. In the intricate three-way relationship between narrated time, the time of narrating, and the time of reading as originally structured by a schedule of serialization, there exists for the novelist an opportunity for play on duration that is illustrated with characteristic excess by Tristram Shandy (a work which by virtue of its publication in five instalments over eighty-five months constitutes a peculiarly haphazard and exaggerated instance of serial fiction). In the closing chapter of Sterne's penultimate volume and the opening chapter of the last, where several lengthy paragraphs are lavished on a fleeting exchange of words and glances between Tristram's mother and father, we may usefully invoke Genette's term 'anisochrony' to describe the witty discrepancy that Sterne contrives between the duration of the narrated event (very short) and the pseudo-duration of the narrative (disproportionately long). Yet we would only catch the full effect of this passage by making reference to a third and quite separate category, that of reading time as originally structured for Sterne's first audience by serial publication of the text. Sterne's joke at this point lies not only in the temporal mismatch between a simple event and its meticulous, verbose narration; it lies also in the fact that these few seconds of narrated time would take even the most eager of the earliest readership one hundred and five weeks to cover, a gap of that extent having intervened between publication of Volumes VII and VIII in January 1765 and Volume ix in the same month two years later.[4]

The present essay has several related purposes. Its primary function is to show some of the ways in which serial publication, by subjecting the temporal experience of the reader to limited but definable regulation, has been used by novelists to intensify or complicate the effects that arise within the text through manipulation of relations between narrated and narrating time. In this context I argue that the history of a novel's publication may be quite as significant as its internal character, and that a narratological model that fails to recognize the interplay between these two aspects is incomplete. To make good the defect, I seek to reclaim the term 'reading time' or 'the time of reading' to denote specifically the duration of the reading experience as paced by serialization, and to show the narratological usefulness of the term in this sense, fully acknowledging that it will have no application to non-serial fiction, and that it refers not to our own reading experience but to that of the audience originally addressed. Over and above these narratological points, a literary-historical case is also proposed. Although serial fiction is mainly associated with the Victorian period, I take all my examples here from the previous century. I do so for two reasons. The first is that the eighteenth century, and specifically its middle decades, provide several cases in which serialization came under an unusually high degree of authorial control, thus standing apart from the later tendency of the form to constrain as much as it enabled, or to subordinate the creative freedom of the individual novelist to the relentless measures and schedules of an industrialized publishing machine.[5] More generally, I wish to emphasize that serial fiction (broadly defined by Victorianists as 'a continuing story over an extended time with enforced interruptions' or 'the division of narrative into separately issued instalments, usually for commercial convenience but occasionally for art')[6] is much more than an exclusively Victorian phenomenon, and that it was ingeniously exploited as a creative as well as commercial resource many decades before the publication of Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

Despite the fact that reference to Tom Jones seems almost compulsory in theoretical treatments of narrative time, Fielding himself is of little usefulness here. Both Genette and Ricoeur praise the adroitness of Fielding's games with time, and cite in particular those passages in which he renounces any equality of duration between narrative and story.[7] On the best-known occasion he distinguishes himself from 'the painful and voluminous Historian, who to preserve the Regularity of his Series thinks himself obliged to fill up as much Paper with the Detail of Months and Years in which nothing remarkable happened, as he employs upon [. . .] notable AEras', and likens such histories to 'a News-Paper, which consists of just the same Number of Words, whether there be any News in it or not': he by contrast will vary his narrative rhythms, and he warns his reader 'not to be surprised, if in the Course of this Work, he shall find some Chapters [ . . .] that contain only the Time of a single Day, and others that comprise Years; in a word, if my History sometimes seems to stand still, and sometimes to fly'.[8] For all the sophistication with which Fielding plays here on issues of narrative and duration, however, he never chose to intensify this aspect of his novels by experimenting with serialization, even though the resource had become a conspicuous option within the previous few years. On the contrary, he repeatedly satirized the fashion for serialization which took off in the 1730s,[9] mocking it as merely a booksellers' ruse in his 1734 revision of The Author's Farce, and resuming the attack in his novels: Joseph Andrews ironically cites Homer as 'the first Inventor of the Art which hath so long lain dormant, of publishing by Numbers, an Art now brought to such Perfection, that even Dictionaries are divided and exhibited piece-meal to the Public; nay, one Bookseller hath [. . .] contrived to give them a Dictionary in this divided Manner for only fifteen Shillings more than it would have cost entire'.[10]

Fielding's target here is the crudest conceivable form of serialization: the part-issue of encyclopaedic texts divided according to the logic of production rather than reception, so that a subscriber's weekly or monthly purchase would be simply a fascicule of so many sheets, often beginning and ending in mid-sentence, with no regard to the integrity of the individual unit. In rather a different category, though still with the needs of the printer uppermost, were some of the early experiments in the magazine serialization of original fiction that have been catalogued by Robert D. Mayo, such as the seven-part serial novelette first published in the Gentleman's Magazine between April 1737 and March 1738 under the starting-title 'A Story Strange as True'. Mayo finds this a significant case for its unusual length (9500 words) and for the relative effectiveness of its serial units and breaks.[11] In view of later developments, its position alone is of interest. Though not itself a regular publisher of fiction, the Gentleman's Magazine was the prototype for later vehicles of serial fiction such as Tobias Smollett's British Magazine and Charlotte Lennox's Lady's Museum; its proprietor Edward Cave was at the time a close acquaintance both personally and professionally of Samuel Richardson; and the novelette's closing instalment coincides in the number for March 1738 with a contribution thought by the late Kenneth Monkman to be Laurence Sterne's.[12] Yet specifically as periodic fiction 'A Story Strange as True' makes limited sense. Though each of its seven parts has something of the integrity noted by Mayo, and some have proleptic conclusions (one attempts 'to prepare my Readers for the wonderful Events that succeed in the Course of this History'; another trails 'a Stratagem more surprising [. . .] than any that the Fancy of the most ingenious Romance-Writer ever suggested'),[13] no interesting relations are established between the three durations of story, narrative, and reading. Indeed, Cave seems to have treated the work as little more than a convenient filler, determining its position and regularity of appearance with reference not to any internal logic of its own but to his immediate need or otherwise for monthly copy: beginning for the first five months as a regular monthly feature, the story is suspended without comment between August 1737 and January 1738, and allowed to peter out in March with an unfulfilled half-promise of future resumption.

Here John Sutherland's somewhat jaundiced definition of serialization as a publishing method followed 'usually for commercial convenience but occasionally for art' gets its priorities right.14 With Richardson, however, we encounter an author-printer in full charge of the production of his own novels, and one who persisted in his experiments with publication in parts even as he detected a harmful effect on sales (which in the case of Clarissa waned between instalments).[15] His first novel was published in the conventional way, though it is worth remembering that one of the best-known stories about Pamela's impact on early readers derives from an unauthorized newspaper serialization that soon followed. Hester Thrale reports:

When his Story of Pamela first came out some Extracts got into the public Papers, and used by that means to find their way down as far as Preston in Lancashire where my Aunt who told me the Story then resided: One Morning as She rose the Bells were set o' ringing & the Flag was observed to fly from the Great Steeple; She rung her Bell & enquired the Reason of these Rejoycings when her Maid came in bursting with Joy, and said why Madam poor Pamela's married at last; the News came down to us in this Mornings Paper.[16]

This anecdote and others like it are usually cited with condescension, but one can see how the intimate reality effect of Richardson's fiction must have been enhanced by a publishing mode in which the diurnal rhythms of each narrator's life and writing were replicated at the point of reception. Just as his epistolary narrators write 'to the moment' (in Richardson's term for an assumed simultaneity of action and narration),[17] so his readers would be required to read to the moment, their access to Pamela's story and her epistolary reports paced in something like isochronous relation to both.

Perhaps it was because of this capacity to mirror in the reading the undifferentiated continuum of narrated time in epistolary fiction that Fielding (determined not to become that kind of writer who 'seems to think himself obliged to keep even Pace with Time, whose Amanuensis he is' (Tom Jones, p.76)) saw little potential in part-published narrative. It may have been with the coincidental enhancement given by newspaper serialization to his own more wilfully pedestrian representations, however, that Richardson began to experiment with serial publication in both Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison. Clearly, publication in such small units would not have been a viable option for works of this size, but in the case of Clarissa he achieved comparable effects, first by progressively distributing transcriptions of the manuscript within his own circle in a process which might well be seen as one of scribal publication in instalments,[18] and then by phasing his eventual release of the printed text in such a way as to contrive near-equality of overall duration between story, narrative, and reading. Like its simpler predecessor, Clarissa investigates the idea that the self may be disclosed, minutely and in all its secret impulses, in the cumulative increments of epistolary exchange; and just as the novel's correspondents progressively unbosom themselves over time to their fictional addresses, so Richardson now mimicked the effect for his readers by spreading publication over a matching period. Clarissa first appeared in three long instalments (Volumes I-II in December 1747, Volumes III-IV in April 1748, Volumes V-VII the following December),[19] and this schedule closely tracked the shape of a fiction in which ongoing events are reported in letters dated between January and December of a single year. Thus Richardson could enhance the potential of non-retrospective epistolary narration to suggest periodic reports of developing consciousnesses and ongoing events ('the unfoldings of the Story, as well as of the heart'),[20] reinforcing further the immediacy of involvement and reality effect that already characterized his method. Delivered in voluminous periodic instalments, the voluminous daily outputs of the novel's characters could make them seem little less than real-life intimates of the reader: Mary Delany spoke for many of Clarissa's readers when she found it 'impossible to think it a Fiction'.[21] Moreover, by timing instalment breaks to coincide with moments of unresolved crisis, Richardson showed as keen a sense of the cliff hanging pause as any Victorian serialist, and here too the result was to reinforce in reading time the more local effects created when his letter-writers tease their addressees with 'the plague of suspense; and break off, without giving thee the least hint of the issue of my further proceedings'.[22] The response of Mary Delany, again, was typical: 'But, Sir, now you have interested me so strongly for the unhappy and deserving Clarissa, will you have the Cruelty to leave me long in the anxious State I am in for her?'[23]

Behind all this lay the hard-nosed didactic strategy which Richardson announced when calling Clarissa 'a grave Story [. . .] designed to make those think of Death who endeavour all they can to banish it from their Thoughts'.[24] By involving readers so intimately in the daily minutiae and inward processes of Clarissa's life and mind, and then by leaving them several months in which to banish death from their ideas of the heroine's future, he could involve his readers in a dramatic lesson of peculiar force, a mock bereavement which insisted on the ineradicability of undeserved suffering and untimely death. Richardson cannot have foreseen the extent to which readers would take advantage of the apparent provisionality of part-published fiction by besieging him with requests to avoid this tragic outcome, and he was soon complaining of the 'trouble I have had from publishing a work in Parts which left everyone at liberty to form a catastrophe of their own'.[25] But a compensating advantage also accrued from the serial method: by hearing in the periods between instalments the case for a happy ending as put by various readers, he was able to revise the third instalment in light of their responses and refute their arguments in the novel's postscript.

It is no surprise that Richardson chose to resume the serial method with Grandison (Volumes I-IV in November 1753, Volumes V-VI a month later, Volume VII in March 1754). Here it is difficult to assess the projected relation between the eighteen months which the main narrators take to produce their letters and the publishing schedule as originally intended, which was disrupted (and almost certainly contracted) by the threat of piracy.[26] But it seems likely that by now features of serial publication over and above some basic synchronization of action and reading were of primary interest to Richardson. 'I think to publish it at three several times; because there are some few Surprises in different Parts of it, which, were the Catastrophe known, would be lessen'd, and take off the Ardor of [. . .] Readers', he told Alexis Clairaut.[27] As with Clarissa, Richardson could use part-publication to set up structures of anticipation and suspense, or to lure readers into, and then correct in retrospect, a series of false assumptions: 'You have a trick of laying yourself open to objections, in the first part of your work, and crushing them in subsequent parts', as Johnson put it.[28] As with Clarissa again, the time-lapse method enabled him to draw out incrementally for his readers, and so impress with greater force, a tale of progressive decline (in the developing madness of Clementina). Yet there was also an interesting departure from Clarissa's method. Where the relentless logic of the earlier novel could lead to only one outcome, and an outcome which enabled him to claim affinity in his postscript with the rigorous structures of classical tragedy, in Sir Charles Grandison he sought to experiment with a soap-opera-like formlessness of action which frustrated all desire for closure. Before publishing the final volume in March 1754, Richardson teased his friends with speculations about a lurid denouement to a plot that had hitherto been doggedly uneventful. But in the end this volume trails quietly away with several plotlines left unresolved, prompting readers to plead for further volumes and Richardson himself to propose a bizarre scheme for members of his circle to continue writing the novel themselves by assuming a character apiece.[29] Privately he feared that 'some other officious Pen' would produce a spurious continuation, and occasionally he even suggested that the open-endedness of both plot and publishing method in Grandison made resumption by himself an option.[30] Publicly he insisted that the work, though strictly speaking unconcluded, could not be pursued any further. In an open letter 'to a lady, who was solicitous for an additional volume to the History of Sir Charles Grandison; supposing it ended abruptly', he observed 'that in scenes of life carried down nearly to the present time [. . .] all events cannot be decided, unless, as in the History of Tom Thumb the Great, all the actors are killed in the last scene; since persons presumed to be still living, must be supposed liable to the various turns of human affairs'. From these assumptions, Sir Charles Grandison became simply interminable, though Richardson himself remained reluctant to add to the nineteen volumes of fiction he had now produced. Readers would have to imagine the action of Grandison continuing in silent parallel with their own lives, and it was up to them to marry Clementina to Jeronymo or not, as the fancy might take them: 'Do you think, Madam, I have not been very complaisant to my Readers to leave to them the decision of this important article?'[31]

Magazines of the kind pioneered by Edward Cave offered a model for serialization that was radically different from all this, and the decade following Sir Charles Grandison was perhaps the most significant period for the magazine serialization of original fiction before Dickens.[32] Whereas fiction in the Gentleman's Magazine and its earliest rivals was never more than a sporadic and low-key feature, several monthlies of the early 1760s made serial novels their most prominent item, including two edited by leading novelists of the day. Lennox's Lady's Museum (March 1760-January 1761) lasted less than a year, but this was enough to accommodate the eleven monthly instalments in which The History of Harriot and Sophia first appeared (before its republication in a volume edition, as simply Sophia, in 1762). This fashionably sentimental tale is no equal to Lennox's earlier Female Quixote, but in technical terms its exploitation of each monthly serial break is done to perfection. Typically, the action is frozen at a suspenseful moment, and a closing sentence accentuates the emotionally cliff hanging effect by zooming in, as though in anticipation of the televised soap, on a character left 'motionless with astonishment', 'with sad forebodings on her mind', or 'reliev[ing] her labouring heart with a shower of tears'.[33] Indeed, it was with clear reference to Lennox's adroit handling of the serial pause that the Royal Female Magazine complained in July 1760 about the cynicism of rival magazine novelists in 'torturing curiosity, by abruptly breaking off, in the most affecting parts'.[34]

A more substantial instance comes with Sir Launcelot Greaves, which began its regular monthly run in the inaugural number (January 1760) of Smollett's own British Magazine, concluded with its twenty-fifth instalment in December 1761, and like Harriot and Sophia would only appear in volume form in the following year. Each instalment was termed a chapter, but Smollett was doing much more here than simply stringing out something otherwise indistinguishable from non-serial fiction in the Fielding mould. On the contrary, he recognized that serialization, by subjecting the temporal experience of the reader to precise regulation, could further complicate the interplay between relative durations of story and narrative that Fielding had already exploited, and he was thus able to add a new dimension to the narratological self-consciousness of his precursor's work. The duration and interruptions of reading are always on his mind as Smollett writes, as is the elasticity of his mode of production. In a work again concerned with insanity, serialization, at one level, clearly provided him with something like the gradualism of Clarissa or Sir Charles Grandison in unfolding the stages of what Sir Launcelot at one point calls 'this transition from madness to delibera-tion'. [35] More prominent, however, is Smollett's playful attitude towards his own activity as a serialist. The novel never commits itself to a specified length until its final month (when the usual 'To be continued ' becomes 'Concluded '), but Smollett begins joking about the prospect of premature curtailment as early as Chapter 3, which is placed pointedly beneath the concluding chapter of a briefer serial item, 'The History of Omrah', and headed 'Which the reader, on perusal, may wish were chapter the last'.[36] In a sense, the whole work unfolds as an ingenious set of variations, practically enacted, on the very chapter from Joseph Andrews in which Fielding had attacked serial publication. Headed 'Of Divisions in Authors', this chapter had famously defined the divisions between chapters and volumes as opportunities for leisurely reflection in a reader's progress: a chapter-break 'may be looked upon as an Inn or Resting-Place, where he may stop and take a Glass, or any other Refreshment, as it pleases him. Nay, our fine Readers will, perhaps, be scarce able to travel farther than through one of them in a Day' (p. 89). Now, in Smollett's hands, chapter-breaks become determinate units of time as well as space, and opportunities for the manipulating novelist to procrastinate, withhold, and frustrate. His first instalment mischievously breaks off at its critical point and asks the reader to 'wait with Patience' for the 'comfort and edification' provided in the following number. Another picks up Fielding's tone of mock solicitude on behalf of an intellectually enfeebled public: 'But as the ensuing scene requires fresh attention in the reader, we shall defer it till another opportunity, when his spirits shall be recruited from the fatigue of this chapter.'[37] Here the underlying joke is always the same: Smollett's reader cannot simply, like Fielding's, resume reading at will the next day, but instead has been stranded for a month.

There are other ways in which Sir Launcelot Greaves wears its serial origins on its sleeve. There is no authority for Scott's account of Smollett despatching scribbled instalments from Berwickshire to London ('when post-time drew near, he used to retire for half an hour, to prepare the necessary quantity of copy [. . .] which he never gave himself the trouble to correct'),[38] but the novel was clearly written no more than a step ahead of publication, and its instalments play not only on their own discontinuous mode of production but also on intervening texts and events. Indeed, there is an interesting two-way traffic between Sir Launcelot Greaves and the volumes of Tristram Shandy with which it coincided. At a time when Sterne's opening two instalments had already established Toby's hobby-horse and its effect on communication as central themes, there is an obviously Shandean resonance to the madhouse scene in Smollett's number for October 1761. When one inmate rants about sieges ('so ho, you major-general Donder, why don't you finish your second parallel? -- send hither the engineer Schittenbach --I'll lay all the shoes in my shop, the breach will be practicable in four and twenty hours -- don't tell me of your works -- you and your works may be damn'd --'), another sets off on salvation: 'Assuredly, (cried another voice from a different quarter) he that thinks to be saved by works is in a state of utter reprobation' (pp. 185-86). All of this, the methodist's hobby-horsical response as well as the shoemaker's besieging obsession, flows straight from Uncle Toby; yet it may also be that the relationship of influence or borrowing between these overlapping serial texts could work in both directions. At any rate, Sterne's teasing suspension of Toby's amours at the end of Volume VIII ('but the account of this is worth more, than to be wove into the fag end of the eighth volume of such a work as this') had obvious precedents in Sir Launcelot Greaves: 'But the scene that followed is too important to be huddled in at the end of a chapter, and therefore we shall reserve it for a more conspicuous place in these memoirs.'[39]

There is no space here (and perhaps no time) to do more than touch on the contribution of serial publication to the dizzying temporal effects of Tristram Shandy,[40] the slow accumulation of which over seven years effectively dramatized for its original audience the comic aporia that Tristram describes in Volume IV: 'I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve-month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of my fourth volume -- and no farther than to my first day's life -- 'tis demonstrable that I have three hundred and sixty-four days more life to write just now, than when I first set out' (pp. 341-42). On this issue Genette is right to exempt Tristram Shandy from his remark that in almost all novels 'the fictive narrating of that narrative [i.e. the production of narrative text by a fictional narrator] [. . .] is considered to have no duration'.[41] Sterne pointedly has Tristram produce one chapter 'this very rainy day, March 26, 1759' (p.71), and another finds him 'sitting, this 12th day of August, 1766, in a purple jerkin and yellow pair of slippers' (p. 737), yet between these two times of fictive (and in all likelihood actual authorial) narrating, Tristram conspicuously fails to get on with the narrated time of his own past life, while equally obviously ageing, sickening, and approaching the point (for life and text alike) of terminal aposeopesis. Yet here Genette's categories again fail to register the intensification given to this ironic (and increasingly plangent) effect by the drawn-out publication of the work, which necessarily involved readers in much the same process of waiting and ageing, while the story stands still or goes backwards. At the outset Tristram himself thinks of reading time in very much the style of Genette and Ricoeur, as nothing other than an extrapolation to be calculated from a spatial measure of text. 'It is about an hour and a half 's tolerable good reading since my uncle Toby rung the bell, when Obadiah was order'd to saddle a horse, and go for Dr. Slop, the man-midwife; -- so that no one can say, with reason, that I have not allowed Obadiah time enough, poetically speaking, and considering the emergency too, both to go and come': here it is as though Tristram feels 'poetically' obliged to maintain isochrony between the duration of the story and the duration of the narrative (or rather the pseudo-duration of the narrative, for as Tristram acknowledges another reader might calculate the same measure 'to be no more than two minutes, thirteen seconds, and three fifths') (p. 119). But by the abrupt end of Tristram Shandy's slow accumulation, reading time has come to mean something more determinate: it has come to mean the reader's own years-long implication in the time-bound world of decay and death that finally defeats Tristram's efforts to fix the past in print or connect it with the ongoing present. It is essential to remember that aspect of the reading experience if we are to catch the full force of the famous apostrophe to Jenny that heralds the imminent curtailment of Tristram's book, the bulk of his life still unwritten:

Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity Life follows my pen; the days and hours of it, more precious, my dear Jenny! than the rubies about thy neck, are flying over our heads like light clouds of a windy day, never to return more --every thing presses on --whilst thou art twisting that lock, --see! it grows grey; and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, and every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make (p. 754)

Time wastes too fast, while Tristram has been wasting time, and wasting in the body. The parallel acts of living and writing, linked throughout his text in increasingly urgent mutual chase, are now approaching their joint extinction, and 'shortly'. With them will be curtailed the equally lengthy publishing process and reading experience through which Sterne dramatizes, with such brilliance and force, the relentless wasting of time and life that has always jeopardized and now, it seems, is about to close down Tristram's efforts. Only a narratology that recognizes the category of reading time in this large and literal sense, and only a criticism that registers the duration, phasing, and interruption of the reading experience as structured by serialization, will get the message.

[1] 'Erzahlzeit und erzahlte Zeit', in Festschrift fur Paul Kluckhohn und Hermann Schneider (Tubingen: Mohr, 1948); repr. in Morphologische Poetik, ed. by Elena Muller (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1968), pp. 269-86.

[2] Narrative Discourse, trans. by Jane E. Lewin (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), pp. 35, 34.

[3] Time and Narrative, Volume 2, trans. by Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 78, 83, 84.

[4] See Tristram Shandy, ed. by Melvyn New and others (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1978-84), pp. 729 (VII. 35) and 735-36 (IX. 1); for the chronology, see pp. 814-31. Volumes I and II were published in December 1759 (York) and January 1760 (London), followed by volumes III and IV in January 1761 and volumes V and VI in December 1761.

[5] See Bill Bell, 'Fiction in the Marketplace: Towards a Study of the Victorian Serial', in Serials and Their Readers 1620-1914, ed. by Robin Myers and Michael Harris (Winchester: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1993), pp. 124-44.

[6] The first definition is from Linda K. Hughes and Michael Lund, The Victorian Serial (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991), p. 1; the second is from John Sutherland, Victorian Fiction: Writers, Publishers, Readers (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995), p. 87.

[7] Narrative Discourse, p.107; Time and Narrative, Volume 2, pp. 78, 163.

[8] Tom Jones, ed. by Martin C. Battestin and Fredson Bowers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), pp. 75-77.

[9] See R. M. Wiles, Serial Publication in England before 1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957), pp. 105-32.

[10] Joseph Andrews, ed. by Martin C. Battestin (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), pp. 90-91. See also Tom Jones, p.684; and The Author's Farce (rev. edn, 1734), II. IV.

[11] The English Novel in the Magazines 1740-1815 (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1962), p. 166.

[12] 'Did Sterne Contrive to Publish a "Sermon" in 1738?', The Shandean, 4 (1992), 111-33.

[13] The Gentleman's Magazine, introd. by Thomas Keymer, 16 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1998), VII (1737), 493; VIII (1738), 19.

[14] Victorian Fiction, p.87.

[15] See my 'Clarissa's Death, Clarissa's Sale, and the Text of the Second Edition', RES, 45 (1994), 389-96 (p. 395).

[16] Thraliana: The Diary of Mrs Hester Lynch Thrale 1776-1809, ed. by Katherine C. Balderston, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1942), I, 145. Possibly the occasion of this anecdote was the Pamela serialization detected by R. M. Wiles from a surviving number (for 21 September 1742) of Robinson Crusoe's London Daily Evening Post; see Serial Publication, pp. 51-52.

[17] Selected Letters, p.289 (to Lady Bradshaigh, 14 February 1754).

[18] See T. C. Duncan Eaves and Ben D. Kimpel, 'The Composition of Clarissa and its Revision before Publication', PMLA, 83 (1968), 416-28. Eaves and Kimpel do not make the analogy with scribal publication, which I owe to Angus Ross.

[19] T. C. Duncan Eaves and Ben D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 213-20.

[20] Selected Letters,p.289 (to Lady Bradshaigh, 14 February 1754).

[21] Victoria & Albert Museum Forster MSS xv, 2, fol. 13 (to Richardson, 25 January 1749).

[22] Clarissa, 3rd edn, 8 vols (1751; repr. New York: AMS Press, 1990), VI, 280.

[23] Forster MSS xv, 2, fol. 7 (to Richardson, 18 June 1748).

[24] Selected Letters, p.126 (to Aaron Hill, 12 July 1749).

[25] Selected Letters, p.117 (to Elizabeth Carter, 17 December 1748).

[26] See Eaves and Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, pp. 375-86.

[27] Selected Letters, pp. 236-37 (5 July 1753). At this point Richardson envisages 'short Distances of time' between his instalments, and hopes to publish from October to February.

[28] The Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. by Bruce Redford, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), I, 79 (28 March 1754).

[29] See Eaves and Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, pp. 384-86, 403-13.

[30] Selected Letters, p.296 (to Lady Bradshaigh, 25 February 1754); see also his letter to Clairaut of 12 September 1755, cited by Eaves and Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, p.412.

[31] Sir Charles Grandison, ed. by Jocelyn Harris, 3 vols (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), III, 467; III, 470; III, 468.

[32] See Mayo, English Novel in the Magazines, pp. 273-98.

[33] The Lady's Museum, I, 44 (March 1760); I, 512 (September 1760); I, 666 (November 1760).

[34] Royal Female Magazine, II (1760), p. II, cited by Mayo, p. 286.

[35] Sir Launcelot Greaves, ed. by David Evans (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 124.

[36] British Magazine, I, 124 (March 1760).

[37] Sir Launcelot Greaves, pp. 7, 119.

[38] Tobias Smollett: The Critical Heritage, ed. by Lionel Kelly (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 354.

[39] Tristram Shandy, p.729; Sir Launcelot Greaves, p.153.

[40] For fuller analysis, see my 'Dying by Numbers: Tristram Shandy and Serial Fiction', The Shandean, 8 (1996), 41-67 and 9 (1997), 34-69.

[41] Narrative Discourse, p.222. The point should be extended to much epistolary and diary fiction.
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Title Annotation:Charles Dickens
Publication:Yearbook of English Studies
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2000
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