Sudden changes, opportunities, or revelations have always carried a special significance in Western culture, from the Greek and later the Christian kairos to Evangelical experiences of conversion. This fascinating book explores the ways in which England, under the influence of industrializing forces and increased precision in assessing the passing of time, attached importance to moments, events that compress great significance into small units of time. Sue Zemka questions the importance that modernity invests in momentary events, from religion to aesthetics and philosophy. She argues for a strain in Victorian and early modern novels critical of the values the age invested in moments of time, and suggests that such novels also offer a correction to contemporary culture and criticism, with its emphasis on the momentary event as an agency of change.

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