Let Time Pass

Special notice: the following text will be written in English as I already have written the summary of this novel for the English version of Wikipedia and I`m too lazy to write the same thing once again. The descriptive and evaluative part logically aren`t from Wikipedia but are written entirely for the purposes of my site.
I managed to obtain a copy of the second and last Madsen`s novel that has been translated into Latvian (The Ungodly Farce was the first, although chronologically "Let time pass" is an older book and the same goes for the translation). Now I`m pretty sad. Why? Because my chances of discovering any of his other novels are rather slim - few of them have Russian, English or German translations and those translations aren`t easy to find anyway. I also doubt that I will learn Danish so I`d able to read Madsen`s works in the original.
I`m now concluding the rather lengthly introduction and moving on to the actual novel itself. Actually it has some similar themes with "The ungodly farce" when it goes for the time travelling/alternate stories issue, although this time the various versions at least don`t happen simultaniously.
Now for the plotline:
Johanna who is a lector at some Danish college gets involved by her colleague professor Jeyde in a time travel experiment. According to Jeyde`s theory time is a similar to a discrete function where huge empty spaces between points of values exist (similar to a film having spaces between every two frames), and if you happen to cut the time "tape" the world gets rewinded to the previous secure point (which would be 23 days before the moment of the cut). The problem that Jeyde has encountered is that after the time cut neither he nor anybody else can notice that there was a cut because everything the happened between the safe point and the cut is erased from their memories as it never had happened (and theoretically it hasn`t happened indeed). He can`t even be sure about any event whether if it`s the first time it`s happening or not.

To be able to understand the possibilities of his invention better, Jeyde sends Johanna to a psychiatrist who "opens up her mind" so after a time cut she`d be able to remember the destroyed time. When Johanna gets tired of being repeatedly sent by Jeyde back in time (since Jeyde sends back the entire Universe and not just Johanna he doesn`t need Johanna`s participation or agreement to send her back) she manages to lock Jeyde up in a psychiatric hospital and wants to leave time travelling behind her, but the she suddenly realises how much freedom it can give her.

(spoilers follow)

This way Johanna gets a chance to outplay different variations of her relationship with Sverre, one of her students, plus she can always correct a mistake that she has made. Another bonus she gets is in no need to spend time tidying up at home because she can always come back to a time when everything was still clean. However she quickly discovers that too much knowledge about upcoming events only tends to make things worse. Her relationship with Sverre rarely recaptures the one they had the first time and she has trouble remembering which events are real and which fiction in any given situation. Finally she decides that the only solution to let time flow normally is for her to first kill Jeyde and then herself.

end of spoilers

What I like about Madsen`s prose is the way he meddles with the literary form in order it to suit his needs perfectly. You could write "Let time pass" as a simple science fiction novel (like Robert Heinlein could have written that for instance), but in Madsen`s hands it is more than just sci-fi, it is a book about the illusion of free choice (although Madsen`s time travel isn`t nearly as dissapointingly unpowerful as it is Kurt Vonnegut`s works where people have complete memories of every their action but can`t change a slightest thing and must repeat their mistakes the same way over and over again). For some reason this semi-obscure Danish writer has totally enchanted me and this book brought some very happy hours. If only there was a way for me to read any of his other works.
2007-09-06
8.5
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