The concept of duration is that aspect of narrative temporality that recognizes that the amount of time devoted to the narration of events does not mirror the amount of time it would take these events to unfold in the fictional universe. A narrative's story time is measured, as in the real world, in minutes, hours, days, and years. A narrative's discourse time, on the other hand, is measured in words, pages, and chapters, or in reading time. A narrative may devote one sentence to a character's entire childhood or, conversely, three chapters to a single hour in that character's life.
In the Broadview edition of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, for instance, the narrator devotes over fifty pages to Crusoe's first two years shipwrecked, while roughly sixty pages later, we find him already in his "four and twentieth Year" on the island (141; 202).
It is especially common for such shifts in duration to occur, of course, at a narrative's denouement. In the Oxford World's Classics edition of Samuel Richardson's Pamela, for example, nearly five hundred pages are devoted to Pamela's initial interactions with, and early marriage to, Mr. B, while the remainder of her many happy years is presented in fewer than two full pages. Similarly, in the Norton Critical Edition of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, one-hundred and sixty-four pages are devoted to the twelve months that pass between Catherine and Henry's first meeting and the day of their marriage, while literally one sentence is devoted to the event of the nuptials itself: "Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang and everybody smiled" (174). Austen even takes humorous advantage of this convention at the novel's end, acknowledging that her readers "will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity" (172).