Time's Arrow: An exploration into the technique of backward narrative
Evans, Grant James John
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This dissertation explores the use of backward narrative through a piece of prose fiction accompanied by a critical commentary and reflection. The story, called Parabola, is created in two parts, forward and backward, revolving around a central event. The first part told traditionally, first person and regular chronology, follows a young boy on a car journey to hospital. During the journey he recounts recent memories and gives his own idiosyncratic views on the sights the car passes and general day to day conundrums like how many sides there are to a circle. This section culminates in a fatal car accident. The second part told in third person and in reverse chronology, or backward narrative, follows the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, a paediatric consultant, back to his place of work where he goes about his daily routine of rounds. The culmination of the story is a sinister episode where he views images of a young girl on Facebook and is sexually aroused. The girl in the photos is the sister of the boy from the first part of the story creating a cyclical narrative. In the critical reflective essay, I explore the technique of writing backward narrative, paying particular attention to the novel Time’s Arrow (1991) by Martin Amis and through an analysis of my own writing process. I also explore the use of split narrative, the child voice, and objective third person perspective as devices to create and suspend tension. A wider analysis of my writing experience, influences and process explore the importance of critical reflection and editing.
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