Annie Dillard, it's about time : an analysis of Annie Dillard's concept of the relationship of time and eternity in her nonfiction prose

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Shively, Kay M.
Rippy, Frances Mayhew
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of English
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Although Annie Dillard has frequently written about the subject of time, no serious study of her treatment of this subject has been published. The purpose of this study was to open the conversation, particularly in the light of her recent book, For the Time Being.Dillard's strongest interest in time is in the relationship between the temporal, time here and now, and the eternal, generally located sometime in the future, somewhere other than here. Since Dillard has repeatedly alluded to this subject in her previous nonfiction books, one may trace the development of her concept of time and eternity from earlier works such as Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Teaching a Stone To Talk, and Holy the Firm, to its current expression in For the Time Being. She places her questions about time and eternity in a distinctly down-to-earth spirituality informed by modern science and sharpened by pungent humor.Beginning with an analysis of the influence on Dillard's writing of Romantics such as Wordsworth and Transcendentalists such as Thoreau but more particularly Emerson, as well as ancient Judaic thought, this study focuses on how Dillard blends with these theinfluence of twentieth century Christian theologian-philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead and Teilhard de Chardin to form an eclectic spirituality that is distinctly her own.Though Dillard has often been called a mystic, her spiritual quest is intensely practical and purposeful: by cracking open the mystery of time she intends to discover nothing less than the secrets of God. This study concludes that Dillard is calling readers to recognize that the spiritually alive person can transcend the barriers of the temporal, experience the eternal in the present, and participate with God in the redemption of the universe.