Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow.


Tod Friendly, America

- the everyday life of an old man turning young: each activity being described as it would be done backwards

- doctor job: "you have to be cruel to be kind," observes the narrator on Tod's healing of his patients (p. 41)

- race attitudes: the narrator sides with Jews and Japanese because they read "forwards", the way he would do himself if he could (p. 51)

- Tod's many affairs with many women: Irene is the only of his lovers to last

- Tod conceals an unknown secret from everyone

John Young, New York

- naturalisation in the US

- the way downwards the social scale

- surgeon job: hard-working, but unemotional

- love life: having a number of women, but loving none

- abortions: announced by nightmares earlier in the narrative

Hamilton de Souza, Lisbon

- love to a gypsy girl - positive racism, racism put on its head?

Odilo Unverdorben, Auschwitz

- medical experiments on Jews

- failing family life: wife Herta, baby Eva

- expectation of his birth and the final realisation that he has come too late when everything is over



The Narrative

- narrated backwards

- descriptive, evaluative, at times graphic (the use of the toilet backwards), at times amusing

- the 1st person narrator is trapped in the body of the protagonist which lives its own life independent of the narrator's will

- the narrator shares the protagonist's body x but: has no access to his mind

- the narrator comments on the protagonist's actions x but: unaware of the backward movement of things

- the narrator acts as a conscience of the protagonist

- the backwards narration: beginning with the protagonist's actual death and moving gradually further to his birth, the backwards narration may symbolically stand for a dying man's reflections on his life when on his deathbed

The Title

- the narrator's search for the protagonist's secret, for the nature of his offence

- the narrator's unsatisfied desire to influence the protagonist's actions according to his own will: the narrator has the potential of will x but: does not hold the power to act upon it (p. 102)


- conscience: "The voice of conscience. [...] Nobody hears it," the narrator realises when he attempts to make the protagonist act as he would (p. 56)

- the relationship between creation and destruction: from the backwards point of view, creation is no trouble, but destruction is difficult (p. 26)

- the psychological effects of the awareness of one's crimes on the personality

- the essential relativity of everything


- telling names

- the baby as a bomb

- birth as death and vice versa

- the recurrent motif of fire as the creator - the fire of hell?


  • Author

    Amis, Martin. (b. 1949).
  • Full Title

    Time's Arrow; or, the Nature of the Offence.
  • First Published

    London: Jonathan Cape, 1991.
  • Form


Works Cited

Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow. (1991). London: Penguin, 1992.


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