Literary Techniques

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

Time and Again is a skillfully constructed narrative. The double plot and quick-paced dialogue hurry the story forward. As the plots gradually interweave and Si is forced to become an active participant in Jake Pickering's plot as well as an observer of the past, Time and Again becomes a novel...

(The entire section contains 629 words.)

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Time and Again is a skillfully constructed narrative. The double plot and quick-paced dialogue hurry the story forward. As the plots gradually interweave and Si is forced to become an active participant in Jake Pickering's plot as well as an observer of the past, Time and Again becomes a novel that cannot be put down until the last page.

The unusual feature of Time and Again is the fact that it is illustrated with pictures and sketches of nineteenth-century New York. Professedly testifying to the reality of Si's adventures, these black-and-white illustrations also create a nostalgic mood. Seeing the faces of the people Si meets and the places he visits helps the reader easily accept Si's decision to remain in the past. Through the photographs Finney conveys much factual information about New York City's history and architecture.

Illustrated novels are rare today, but once the common practice was to illustrate important works of fiction. The writings of nineteenth-century authors such as Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Mark Twain were often illustrated with drawings envisioning important scenes from the novel. Thus Time and Again is not only a novel about the nineteenth century, it also looks like a novel from the past.

Social Concerns

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 140

Time and Again describes Si Motley's discovery that he can live in two different eras: contemporary New York City and the New York City of 1882. He must decide in which era he wishes to spend the rest of his life.

The context of the novel is the radicalism of the late 1960s, The novel reflects the worry about the dying city, the traditional urban centers threatened by white flight, black rioting, and resulting urban blight. It grows, too, out of crisis of authority prompted by the Vietnam War, the growing realization that citizens should not leave all important decisions to a central government. Finally, the novel discusses the relation between individuality and community, a debate strong in the era when alternate lifestyles, like the commune and the open marriage, competed with traditional social structures for the allegiance of the individual.

Literary Precedents

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 132

Travel through time is an old fictional device, dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. Nineteenth-century novels of time travel such as Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888) or Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) depended upon the hero falling asleep to change eras. H. G. Wells's The Time Machine (1895) introduced the notion of constructing a machine that would allow a voyager to travel forward or backward. Much popular science fiction about time-travel relies upon the device of a time-machine to generate the story. Finney provides an interesting twist by assuming that time-travel is a product of deliberate imaginative effort. Si Morley experiences time not as a stream, but as shadow of the present given substance by sensation. Si moves into the past by recreating the sights, sounds, touches, smells, and tastes of 1882.

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