In the second volume of Time and Narrative (1985, 101–12), Paul Ricoeur distinguishes between two layers of temporality in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925): he calls them “monumental” time and “mortal” time. The former is connected with authority and British imperial politics; the latter is the subjective, highly malleable time of human experience. But there is another time, also active in Woolf's novel and in her oeuvre more generally, that Ricoeur seems to overlook. It is the “deep history” (Shryock and Smail 2011) of geological and planetary phenomena that vastly surpasses the time scale of individual humans or human societies, or even of the human species. This is not to say that narrative is at ease with this deep temporality; as a practice, it seems fundamentally skewed toward the ethical and hermeneutic concerns that Ricoeur foregrounds in his work. But deep time does surface in narrative; this article is concerned with the formal challenges raised by such surfacings.

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