Download Memory in Literature: From Rousseau to Neuroscience by S. Nalbantian PDF

By S. Nalbantian

This booklet is the 1st to find and probe intensive reminiscence phenomena captured in literary works. utilizing literature as a laboratory for the workings of the brain, this comparative research of writers from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Octavio Paz, together with Proust, Breton, Woolf and Faulkner, uncovers invaluable fabric for the type of the reminiscence approach. Nalbantian's bold interdisciplinary paintings, related to literature, technology, and paintings, forges a brand new version for discussion among the disciplines.

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Extra info for Memory in Literature: From Rousseau to Neuroscience

Sample text

He asks for memory traces to be engraved in nature – in the reeds, in the wind, in the breeze, fearing all the while that such memory can be ravaged by the passage of time. A tension is thereby produced between the poet’s demand to retain the memory and Nature’s apparent indifference. In this instance, the natural landscape itself nonetheless helps the poet revive the memory despite the intense awareness of the fleeting quality of human existence. Such personal drama will turn into a longer-term memory, since years later in 1849 Lamartine composes his love narrative Raphaël, the fiction being based on this important relationship of his youth.

As a true Romantic, Rousseau was overly concerned with the expression of sincerity and true frankness (‘la franchise’) in the writing of his autobiography. Addressed to the reader, his work is intended to live up to his own criteria of truth-telling and aversion to lying. Somewhat paradoxically, therefore, he constantly holds up his memories to the standards of the ‘truth claim’ despite the fact that he admits to some kind of ‘insignificant’ embellishment: . . and if by chance I have used some immaterial embellishment (‘quelque ornement indifférent’) it has been only to fill a void due to a defect of memory.

He also makes the point that the distinctive feature of his memory is that as soon as he relegates that memory to paper, it leaves him: Quand elle me sert ce n’est autant que je me suis reposé sur elle, sitôt que j’en confie le dépôt au papier, elle m’abandonne (Pléiade, 351). ] Thus, Rousseau seems able to hold the memory in his mind until the point of recording it on paper, at which time it disappears. It shall be seen how different this notion of memory is from that of certain modern writers like Octavio Paz who conversely depend on the physical act of writing to elicit the memory, which is viscerally bound to writing and in fact surfaces on paper.

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