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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores realist fiction that attempts to imagine a past that remains largely invisible to the viewing eye or that challenges a realist fascination with the visible world. As characters focus on the ancient past, particularly Roman and Greek ruins, they display consternation at the degree to which the past summons an imaginative response that they (and the narratives) find disconcerting. Even more challenging for the realist imagination is the deep, geological past, which enters literary texts via moments of discomfort, so uncomfortably does it fit the parameters of a scenic mode of writing. Nature writing, I argue, fares far better in its capacity to imagine a distant past for the natural world and one that has left its signs on the visible landscape.

Keywords: ancient past, deep time, temporality, visual, scenic writing, romanticism, nature writing

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