ABSTRACT Several novels and films from the 1980s and 1990s hinge on a parallel between sets of lives that unfold in different historical periods. This article argues that the premise of parallel lives is a way of grappling with a threat to the cultural and social status conferred by historicism. It compares this narrative anxiety to apprehensions about the fate of history and memory that have recently been expressed by social theorists, including Sven Birkerts, Pierre Nora, and Fredric Jameson.

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