As Time Goes by : Portraits of Age

Charnley, Joy and Verdier, Caroline, eds. (2013) As Time Goes by : Portraits of Age. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. ISBN 978-1-4438-4245-7

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Academic work in a range of disciplines has been making an important contribution to the fraught and confusing debate around ageing, and through writers’ consciousness and experience, literature, just like economics, psychology, history and sociology, can provide valuable insights into the attitudes and prejudices prevalent in society. The present volume adds to this burgeoning field by providing a wide spectrum of literary analyses drawing on a range of approaches (Freud, Lacan, Kristeva and feminist theory, amongst others) and covering a broad geographical area (France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, in addition to Francophone Canada and Morocco). Major writers such as Balzac, Cervantes, Goethe, Mann and Zola are discussed here, as well as a number of important twentieth-century writers (Ben Jelloun, Cixous, Doubrovsky, Ernaux, Roy and Ungaretti) and less well-known figures (Carvalho, Châtelet and Fleutiaux). Within the broad themes which structure the volume, many others also emerge, overlapping and often recurring in several sections. These constant echoes between essays remind us that, whatever the geographical location or the period in history, similar issues remain pertinent across time and space, whether it be family relations, generational solidarity, sadness and loneliness, memory and dementia, class differences, gender differences or sexuality. Together, these essays contribute to the existing body of critical work by providing a series of portraits of what age is, has been and might be in the future. Collectively they demonstrate once more the power of literature to reflect or even prefigure social trends, encouraging us to consider carefully what we think, how we live and how we might shape our future societies.