This chapter addresses the contemporary novel in the context of social theories of time and philosophical accounts of time. It also argues against the predominance of ‘retrospective’ models of narrative, such as Linda Hutcheon's ‘historiographical metafiction’, as a basis for characterising the contemporary novel. The time–space compression, accelerated recontextualisation and archive fever are the three notions of the contemporary. In addition, the role of a tense framework in the characterisation of contemporary fiction is assessed. The relationship between the characteristics of a novel and the idea of the present as an historical totality is one of the factors that will determine the contemporaneity of contemporary fiction, as if the very idea of the contemporary contained within it a double reference, on one hand indicating mere present-ness, and on the other the special power to represent the present.
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