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Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture


Peter Collier, Anna Elsner and Olga Smith

Memory has always been crucial to French literature and culture as a means of mediating the relationship between perception and knowledge of the individual coming to terms with his identity in time. Relatively recently, memory has also emerged as the key force in the creation of a collective consciousness in the wider perspective of French cultural history. This collection of essays, selected from the proceedings of a seminar on ‘Memory’ given by Dr Emma Wilson at the University of Cambridge, offers a fresh evaluation of memory as both a cultural and an individual phenomenon in modern and contemporary French culture, including literature, cinema and the visual arts. ‘Anamnesia’, the book’s title, develops the Aristotelian concept of anamnesis: recollection as a dynamic and creative process, which includes forgetting as much as remembering, concealment as much as imagination. Memory in this extremely diverse range of essays is therefore far from being presented as a straightforward process of recalling the past, but emerges as the site of research and renegotiation, of contradictions and even aporia.
Contents: Emma Wilson: Preface – Peter Collier/Anna Magdalena Elsner/Olga Smith: Introduction – Max Silverman: Trips, Tropes and Traces: Reflections on Memory in French and Francophone Culture – Ian James: Death, Memory, Subjectivity: Perec’s W, ou le souvenir d’enfance – Anna Magdalena Elsner: ‘L’obscénité absolue du projet de comprendre’: The Communicability of Traumatic Knowledge in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah – Myriem El Maïzi: Marguerite Duras’ Poetics of Diversion: Memory, Forgetting and Invention – Jenny Murray: ‘La mort inachevée’: Writing, Remembering, and Forgetting in Assia Djebar’s Le Blanc de l’Algérie, La Disparition de la langue française and Nulle part dans la maison de mon père – Patrick O’Donovan: Memory as Object: A Relation of Proximity? – Catherine Crimp: Louise Bourgeois and Samuel Beckett: Space and the Materials of Memory – Olga Smith: ‘A Hollow Image of the Person’: Objects of Memory in the Art of Christian Boltanski – Ferzina Banaji: Rethinking Memory: The Violation of a ‘lieu de mémoire’ in Marcel Ophüls’ Le Chagrin et la pitié – Jennifer Burris: A Landscape of Amnesia: The Loss and Attempted Reconstruction of Memory in Artistic Representations of the Urban – Rositza Alexandrova: Things of Art: A Photographic Thumbing of the Nose – Katja Haustein: ‘La vie comme œuvre’: Barthes with Proust – Michèle Lester: Through the Looking Glass: Beckett’s Monologues, Jacques Lacan and the Role of Memory – Roger Cardinal: Joë Bousquet: Remembering a Wound – Thanh-Vân Ton-That: Anna Moï’s Riz Noir: A Feminine View of War, between Two Cultures – Amaleena Damlé: Phantasmal Relics: Psychoanalytical and Deconstructive Ghosts in Moi L’Interdite and Pagli by Ananda Devi – Jenny Chamarette: Memory, Representation of Time and Cinema – Nadine Boljkovac: Intimacy and Prophecy: Marker and Resnais’s Memories – Richard Armstrong: ‘«Nevers» … is just a word like any other’: The Failure of Words and the Wandering Woman in Hiroshima mon amour – Isabelle McNeill: Agnès Varda’s Moving Museums – Carol Mavor: A is for Alice, for Amnesia, for Anamnesis: A Fairy Tale called La Jetée.