Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture

Modern French Identities
Editor: Anna-Magdalena Elsner Peter Collier 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 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.

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