Toni Morrison, V. S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri
Chapter One - Introduction: imagining and repatterning the incompleteness of history 11
Chapter One Introduction: imagining and repatterning the incompleteness of history Under history, memory and forgetting. Under memory and forgetting, life. But writing a life is another story. Incompletion.1 (Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, p.506). Epigrammatic and melodious, this little poem by Paul Ricoeur reveals deep insights on the entangled relations among history, memory, life and story writing. That is, the interrelatedness of history and memory, the dichotomy of remembering and forgetting, and the dialectic of life writing and story writing. In particular, the final word ‘inachèvement’ (incompletely) underscores the fragmented and unfinished aspect of history, memory, narrative, and life itself. However, at least in English the negative prefix ‘in’ has another dimension of connotation; ‘incom- pletely’ also suggests dynamism or flux and potentiality or something in the making. In other words, the awareness of incompleteness not only augments knowledge of the reality but also calls upon an un- ending project to reinterpret the historical past and re-envision the world. Besides, it is precisely this sense of incompleteness that catalyzes the effort generation after generation to further explore unnoticed places in self and community, as well as in the past, present and future. In their imaginative literature, especially in their historical novels, Toni Morrison, V.S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri have delineated and also 1 The original poem reads: ‘Sous l’histoire, la mémoire et l’oubli. Sous la mémoire et l’oubli, la vie. Mais écrire la vie est une autre histoire. Inachèvement.’ (Paul Ricoeur, La Mémoire, L’Histoire, L’Oubli,...
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