For Julien Green. it was the idea of time elapsing—"[l]a pensee que notre temps, notre vie tombent au néant à mesure que l'heure s'ècoule''—that prompted him to keep his literary journal (Journal 123). Like Manuel in Le Visionnaire, who also kept a record of his day-to-day activities "pour retenir la vie au passage" (Le Visionnaire 161), Green uses writing as an attempt at self-possession, as a way for him to stop the flow of experiential time. In Léviathan the characters are similarly obsessed with the problem of time's passage and see it as an agent of inescapable dispossession. But different from their author whose identity they share, they are not able to profit from any individual creative effort as a means to conquer time. Rather they depend on others to give them a sense of coinciding with the present, or fulfilling the desires whose urgency they feel. As in many of Green's early novels, recollections are shown to be what safeguards the character against the vagaries of chance; they are the source of a happiness not contingent on the caprice of one's peers, and thus deliver him from the fate he feels is holding him a prisoner. For the characters in Léviathan, however, retrospection only leads to a more acute awareness of their present discontents. And instead of acquiescing to their destiny in a way that could ennoble them, they flee it by assigning others the blame for their misfortunes. Thus for Gueret, Madame Londe, Angele, and Madame Grosgeorge, time can only aggravate desires that are thwarted, since it is experienced as disjuncture, as a kind of "décalage" between the moment they are able to articulate their wishes and the duration when the other persists in withholding satisfaction. Time is seen by them as an accretion of missed chances, dismal prospects, as an emptying of the present that makes their sense of want more poignant. Now is never the time to act, to grasp the joys they see eluding them. As they look backward disappointedly or ahead with poisoned hope, they find each instant vitiated by an impression of futility, robbed of its potential by its killing temporal context. For them, events take place in the static time of their despair, "[t]rop tard et trop tôt" as Gueret might say of his drab life (608).



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