Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

David Wills


This dissertation compares conceptions of time as they appear in the works of Jorge Luis Borges, Edouard Glissant and Saint-John Perse. It attempts to stage a series of encounters among these writers, encounters or "relatings" in the sense of correlation and narration. The first relation is that expressed by Paul Ricoeur, who states that time becomes human only when it is articulated in narration and narration becomes human only when it describes the features of temporal experience. The second relation, or set of relations, occurs in the plural, interrupted, yet interconnected topos of the Americas. Through an analysis of the texts of three authors of this geographical area I explore how notions of time imported by the European conquerors, combined with the disconnected memories of African slaves, relate to the different situations of each, producing new conceptions of myth, history, space and family structures. I first examine how time is motivated by the historical, mythical and political context in which it takes place, whereby the gaps in the slaves' memories explain the absence of a certain and single origin. I then examine how time can be read in terms of spatial representation; how, for instance, the fragmented geography of the Caribbean inscribes an interrupted time, or how the imagined structures in Borges's fictions, such as the labyrinth, illustrate infinite time within an enclosed frame. In the last chapter, I first show the correlation between genealogy and time, comparing the displacement of paternal roles to the dismantlement of linear chronology. In the case of Perse, the father is first idealized then fragmented, as is the past. In the case of Borges, the structure of the father, which frames a multitude of other father figures, is representative of a time that proliferates yet remains controlled. In the case of Glissant, the absence of fathers as such corresponds to the absence of a structuring chronological principle. In this context, I draw a comparison between the role of women who are no longer excluded from the historical temporal frame, but who instead become its propagators.