What is the relation between public notations of time and the personal experience of duration? And how have these two different approaches to temporality been explored in early novels? This article considers Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, arguing that through renderings of objective time and of the experience of duration Defoe differentiates between two different modes of sociality: contractual relations on the one hand and intimate attachments on the other. Furthermore, in these novels Defoe lays the terms for one of the main tropes through which later eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels represent both domesticity (in its inherent duality of love and marriage) and temporality (in its inherent duality of duration and time). This is a trope of parallax view, which captures an important condition of these dualities – that their poles can never be viewed simultaneously even as they coexist in the same phenomena.