Scraping down the past: Memory and amnesia in W. G. Sebald's anti-narrative

Philosophy and Literature 34 (2):394-408 (2010)
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Abstract

Vanguard anti-narrativist Galen Strawson declares personal memory unimportant for self-constitution. But what if lapses of personal memory are sustained by a morally reprehensible amnesia about historical events, as happens in the work of W.G. Sebald? The importance of memory cannot be downplayed in such cases. Nevertheless, contrary to expectations, a concern for memory needn’t ally one with the narrativist position. Recovery of historical and personal memory results in self-dissolution and not self-unity or understanding in Sebald’s characters. In the end, Sebald shows how memory can be significant, even imperative, within a deeply anti-narrativist outlook on the self, memory, and history.

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Kathy Behrendt
Wilfrid Laurier University

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Hirsch, Sebald, and the Uses and Limits of Postmemory.Kathy Behrendt - 2013 - In Russell J. A. Kilbourn & Eleanor Ty (eds.), The Memory Effect: The Remediation of Memory in Literature and Film. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 51-67.

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