Halting the tremors
The earthquake's echoing presence gives an untimely character to both Martin's and Saint-Éloi's narrative reconstructions of the disaster. The concept of 'untimeliness', usually associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, is brought into a contemporary context by Ross Chambers in his 2004 study Untimely Interventions: AIDS Writing, Testimonial, and the Rhetoric of Haunting. In fact, the earthquake is only one of many different kinds of both literal and metaphorical disruptions and tremors – 'tremblements' – in the text. The title thus brings to the fore the tension between the idea of a singular temporal moment and a repeated or extended occurrence that marks the subjective perception of the earthquake and its immediate aftermath throughout Martin's memoir. The earthquake, as an environmental hazard and as an untimely experience, is interpreted both as a 'general disaster' and 'a disaster of self'. In accordance with these dual dimensions, it remodels the sense of personal as well as collective past and future.