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Hontologie: The Chronotope of Shame in Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight

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Abstract Jean Rhys’s 1939 novel, Good Morning, Midnight, is a modernist masterpiece of temporal, spatial, and linguistic fragments and collisions. This analysis begins with an application of what Bakhtin established as the mutual enmeshment in the genre of the novel of space and time, or “chronotope,” to Rhys’s novel, and goes on to identify Sasha’s primal experience of shame as the cause of temporal collapse. The mere recall of a shameful moment can ignite a blush, make the body burn—in short, erase the temporal distance between the past and the present, and Sasha exists in a state of shame so extreme that she exemplifies Bruno Chaouat’s concept of hontologie. Rhys records the violent destruction of linear time by the seismic force of the shame effect.

Affiliations: 1: Wagner College Staten Island, NY 10301 USA


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