Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Times Arrow

Go To

For the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, see "Time's Arrow".

For the Bojack Horseman episode, see "Time's Arrow".

They're always looking forward to going places they're just coming back from, or regretting doing things they haven't yet done. They say hello when they mean goodbye.

A novel by Martin Amis, told entirely in reverse chronological order so that the dialogue and actions by the main characters are all reversed, much like watching a film play backwards (or rewinding itself).


The story follows a Nazi war criminal, a doctor who worked at Auschwitz. The tale begins at 'the moment' of his death and then throughout his entire life through his early childhood. He goes through several identity changes whilst coping with the consequences of his 'past' actions.

Some humour comes through from the Narrator (who is very disconnected from the physical character of the Doctor) being unable to understand that the time is running backwards and misinterpreting those events- but this novel was intended as a commentary on the reversal of human nature put into place the Nazi's policies.


This show provides examples of:

  • Back to Front: The entire narrative is like this, although the narrator doesn't seem to understand that. Conversations are also told in reverse.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Odilo, the Nazi doctor, seems to have an Oedipus complex.
  • Failing a Taxi: Mocked when the narrator notes that taxis in New York are so efficient people stand on the street for hours saluting their services when the reverse is true.
  • Mad Doctor: Uncle Pepi, an Expy of Josef Mengele
  • Unreliable Narrator: The narrator is a 'secondary consciousness' who existed when the main character was born and rewinds through his whole life
  • Those Wacky Nazis

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: