As the clocks move forward an hour, novelist Samanatha Harvey shares her favourite books that play with present, past and future
As the clocks go forward, reminding us once more of time’s strange slipperiness, I find myself returning to Ted Hughes. The Poems, selected by Simon Armitage, consider time – the seasons, centuries and eras – through its impact on the natural world; what it does to rivers, horses, trees, birds, ferns, flowers, fish, the moon.
There’s something about his poem “A March Calf” in particular that grasps time’s violence, and also its grace – the moment when a calf realises it’s alive, not knowing how numbered are its days. That embattled bursting forth of a life, and of spring: “Soon he’ll plunge out, to scatter his seething joy, / To be present at the grass, / To be free on the surface of such a wideness, / To find himself himself …” Back when I was a philosophy student I read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and I’m choosing it now because there’s a jewel-like notion at its heart – that the mind creates and shapes the world, rather than passively receives it. This seemed truly revelatory to my 19-year-old self – in particular the section “Space and Time”, which lays out the idea that time isn’t a concept existing out there in the world, but a subjective property of the mind, a construct that forms a net through which all experience must come. Continue reading...