Summertime: Time, Narrative and Queer Futures in Aciman’s "Call Me by Your Name"
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André Aciman’s acclaimed first novel, Call Me by Your Name, retrospectively depicts the love affair between Elio and Oliver in an edenic Italian 1980s summer. Setting a story saturated with longing and nostalgia in the summertime seems to play with the chronotope of the summer as a period ripe for romantic experimentation. What sets Aciman’s text apart, though, is its deep concern with the phenomenology of time. Applying Paul Ricœur’s observations expounded in his Time and Narrative to the novel helps illuminate how Aciman employs emplotment, where the present is punctuated with references to the past and to the future, to destabilize the stubborn boundaries of time. The result is that Elio’s recounting of a distant past becomes a relevant present, never fully passed. The comingling of the past and present relates to Elizabeth Grosz’s explanations of Bergson’s reconsideration of chronology where the past and present ‘function in simultaneity.’ Grosz argues that Bergson’s sense of duration has consequences for the virtual possibilities not fully predicted by the past. As can be seen in Call Me by Your Name, the representation of time where the past is reworked in the present offers untimely ruptures of new potentials ‘later’ beyond the boundaries of the narrative. Thus, Aciman’s text is not simply a nostalgic work for a time of innocent yearning, but it is a reformulation of the past to create a virtual future where the queer pleasures of the summer are not limited by time.
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