2022 - It’s Time: What Living in Time Is Like

It’s Time: What Living in Time Is Like by Donald E. Morse, Oakland University, USA and University of Debrecen

Open access copy available for download at DUPress: https://dupress.unideb.hu/hu/termek/its-time-e-book

Why is it so hard to discuss time? A good part of the difficulty arises from what contemporary philosopher Nathaniel Lawrence terms “the uniqueness of temporality,” which, while “[i]t submits to useful analogy, … is different, essentially different, from anything else” [because] “temporality permeates … [human] experience.” When we try and reduce this experience to a concept of time, we necessarily pick and chose certain aspects and ignore others. This becomes a “no win” game. Jorge Luis Borges cautioned against trying to “solve” this intractable problem. Instead he recommended attempting to describe and, where possible, to illuminate it through story, for “[o]ur existence in time … can only be comprehended through narrative.” Rather than attempting to define time or to theorize about it, It’s Time tries to report on what living in time is like not through abstractions but through imaginative literature with its special insights into our experience of time. Narrative remains the ideal medium for presenting the events upon which our real experience of time depends. It’s Time discusses a variety of works in many different genres in the hope not of being definitive but of creating a mosaic that will reflect what it is like to live in time.

“Drawing on a variety of scientific, philosophical, and theological ideas about time Morse shows how these are consciously or unconsciously reflected in literature from the Renaissance to the 21stst century. He contrasts Auden’s and Beckett’s views of Time, while Marina Carr’s The Mai and Frank McGuinness’s The Hanging Gardens illustrate time, memory, and dementia. Joyce, Shakespeare, Albee, Wilde, and Swift contribute to his analysis of the life cycle, immortality, and mortality. His vivid analyses of plays make you feel you are watching them. . . . There is really no other book quite like this one.”

—Katherine Hume, author of Fantasy and Mimesis, Aggressive Fictions, American Dream/American Nightmare,


“A refreshing book to captivate and inform readers, an extended philosophical response to a lifetime of teaching literature and of viewing plays. Morse sees time as the ineluctable condition of our existence, wriggle as we may to escape it. Duration is our fate. He entertains the reader, presenting carefully selected literary works to illustrate aspects of what are essentially existential problems. The joy and the originality lie in the author’s superb communication skills. This is an important book.” 

—Christopher Murray, author of Twentieth-century Irish Drama; Brian Friel; Sean O’Casey; Tom Murphy


“A collection of essays weaving together natural science, philosophy, and literature examining aspects of time, which forms a narrative testifying to humanity’s eternal quest to come to terms with mortality by contemplating our relation to time past, present and future in a constantly changing world. It’s a time travel well worth taking.” 

—Ildikó Limpár, author of The Truths of Monsters, award-winning Hungarian dramatist, novelist, and translator of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.


“Morse’s mosaic of time proffers an enticing academic artifact for serious perusal. Read this book; you will be glad that you spent the time.” 

—W. A. Senior, author of Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, past- president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, former editor of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts