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Memory, Narrative, Identity

Remembering the Self

Nicola King

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It is commonly accepted that identity or a sense of self is constructed by and through narrative - the stories we tell ourselves and each other about our lives. This book explores the complex relationships that exist between memory, nostalgia, writing and identity. The author examines a range of autobiographical and first-person fictional texts from holocaust literature, women's writing and popular fiction. Each text foregrounds issues of memory, history and trauma in the construction of identity. There are close readings of texts including Sylvia Fraser's My Father's House, Margaret Atwood's Cats Eye, Barbara Vine's A DarkAdapted Eye, Toni Morrison's Beloved, George Perec's W Or the Memory of Childhood, and Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces. Reading these texts of memory shows that 'remembering the self' depends not on restoring an original identity, but on 're-membering', on putting past and present selves together, moment by moment, in a process of provisional reconstruction. This is a powerful contribution to the growing field of 'trauma' and holocaust studies. It will be of relevance to those working in the areas of literary and cultural studies, which are witnessing a steady growth of interest in autobiography, theories of narrative, and the relationship between trauma, history and memory.

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About the Author

Nicola King is Senior Associate Lecturer in English at the University of the West of England.


Memory, Narrative and Identity is an example of fine interdisciplinary work, both accessible to a range of audiences and intelligently written. Of the countless books written on autobiographical memory in recent years, King's will likely be among the more memorable.
The variety of texts, along with the various ways that memory, particularly traumatic memory, is negotiated within them, makes Memory, Narrative, Identity an important book for literary studies and for trauma/holocaust studies.
Groundbreaking study of how the self is remembered in a variety of recent texts, fictional, non-fictional, and perhaps somewhere in between … deeply felt and deeply informed.
A rich and delightfully readable account of 'memory that does not lie dormant in the past, awaiting resurrection' but collaborates between past and present, negotiating 'between remembering and forgetting, between the destruction and creation of the self.'

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