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Time and Again (Time, #1)
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2015 Reads > T&A: 1880s via the 1970s

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message 1: by E.J. Xavier (new) - added it

E.J. Xavier (ejxavier) | 163 comments So yes, I too thought the romanticization of the 1880s was frankly very hard to swallow. As was the general disillusionment with modern life.

But then again, 1970 in general, and 1970s NYC in particular was a time period rife with disillusionment, frustration, and nihilism. The social gains of the 60s were not "won and done". They had barely just begun, and the battles were still vicious and painful.

The Vietnam war has not yet ended. Saigon will not fall for another 5 years. At this point the war is already 15 years long.

Roe vs. Wade is still 3 years away

The passage of the Civil Rights Act was recent. It was as recent as "Obamacare" is to us right now. And the rage and fighting over it was far larger.

Boston was in the middle of a racially charged series of lawsuits over desegregating schools, started in 1965, this slow burn will result in riots in 1975.

Cities and urban centers were experiencing the beginnings of urban blight and "white flight".

In addition to the racial tensions felt all over the country in NYC specifically you have:

The 1968 Sanitation Strike


The 1966 Transit Strike

NYC was also spiraling into a financial crisis that would eventually result in the need for a federal bailout (1975)

The feeling of loss of a once vibrant city is palpable in the book, and I think it's maybe a little too easy to scoff at the romantic yearning knowing as we do that things would improve. It's important to note that in 1970 there was not yet a light at the end of the tunnel, especially for New York.

That the long descriptions are so very focused on the landmarks of the past, is no accident I think. Finney briefly mentions in the book the destruction of the original Penn Station which occurred 5 years prior to the writing of Time and Again, and was not an isolated incident. The 1950s and 60s had ushered in an era where "new" was always better, and many many NYC landmarks were torn down and destroyed in favor of modernist concrete styles such as "Brutalist" architecture.

Also in the 60s there was the destruction of the last of the old IRT Subway Kiosks , to be replaced with the far more functional entrances. The Times Building was stripped of all architectural detail (from 1904) and "modernized" with 60s style minimalist facing. This is just a sampling of what was going on at the time.

Putting it all in context I feel that this book is in it's own unique way channeling a very specific time, and the 1882 of Time and Again says a great deal more about 1970 than it does about 1882. This is the beginning of the realization that the architecture of the past should be protected. The loss of Penn Station would lead to the creation of the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, which would be instrumental in saving Grand Central Station from the same fate in 1975.


There was a decided sense of pessimism in the 1970s, and I think Finney is catching on to the beginnings of a craving for optimism, (which seems to be the attribute of the people of the 1880s that most impresses him), as well as the beginnings of a desire to preserve the past.

Of course it would be another 7 years before the optimistic story to end all stories would finally truly turn the tide of rampant pessimism. But for those who enjoy podcasts here is a great one about that event, that also touches on some ideas that I think could be relevant to the nostalgia of Time and Again as well.

http://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org...


message 2: by Steven (new)

Steven Paul Leiva (goodreadscomuser_stevenpaulleiva) | 93 comments E.J. Xavier wrote: "So yes, I too thought the romanticization of the 1880s was frankly very hard to swallow. As was the general disillusionment with modern life.

But then again, 1970 in general, and 1970s NYC in par..."


Excellent points, very well made. Thank you!


Matthew Castanon (mattinthehat) | 19 comments Wow, very well put. I was thinking along the same lines but no where near as in depth or as knowledgeable. I thought as far as vietnam, post civil rights, and the Nixon administration.


Ivi_kiwi | 87 comments E.J. Xavier wrote: "So yes, I too thought the romanticization of the 1880s was frankly very hard to swallow. As was the general disillusionment with modern life.

But then again, 1970 in general, and 1970s NYC in par..."


Very interesting!


Teadragon | 23 comments E.J. Xavier wrote: "So yes, I too thought the romanticization of the 1880s was frankly very hard to swallow. As was the general disillusionment with modern life.

But then again, 1970 in general, and 1970s NYC in par..."


Thanks for the interesting post!


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