Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, by Nicholas Dames

By Nicholas Dames

With Joyce, Proust, and Faulkner in brain, we now have come to appreciate the radical as a sort with intimate ties to the impulses and procedures of reminiscence. This examine contends that this universal notion is an anachronism that distorts our view of the radical. in keeping with an research of consultant novels, Amnesiac Selves indicates that the Victorian novel bears no such safe relation to reminiscence, and, in truth, it attempts to conceal, steer clear of, and do away with remembering. Dames argues that the impressive shortage and special unease of representations of remembrance within the nineteenth-century British novel sign an paintings shape suffering to outline and build new strategies of reminiscence. by means of putting nineteenth-century British fiction from Jane Austen to Wilkie Collins along a wide selection of Victorian psychologies and theories of brain, Nicholas Dames inspires a novelistic global, and a tradition, prior to smooth memory--one devoted to a nostalgic evasion of targeted recollection which our time has mostly forgotten.

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Unlike the case of Hamilton’s patient, talking is enough. ” The key to this alchemy of trauma into nostalgia is, perhaps, the fact that for Austen’s readers these Price childhood memories are really no memories at all: they refer to nothing we have seen or heard in the text previously, and they do not attain enough of a level of specificity to disturb the sentence’s happy conclusion. What “pain” or “evil” the Prices previously suVered remains persistently—one might say tactically—enigmatic. Were any of these memories of pain to burst into explicitness (and it is diYcult enough to imagine what they might be, so heavy is the curtain hung over childhood in Austen), the sentence’s resolution might seem like bad faith or, at best, irony, but insofar as William and Fanny’s memories are so persistently vague, the pleasure they yield does not open itself up to suspicion.

General, and unassailable: protected from our own memories of Darcy’s past within the text, of which we have perhaps formed judgments, we instead listen to vague ruminations on a past that we will never know any better. It is the beginning of a nostalgic readerliness, a method in which our textual recollections in all their specificity (and potential for reawakening, given our ability to literally “turn back the pages of the past”) are supplanted at the text’s end by a new, rather more mystified past.

This had hung on his spirits ever since; and from thence I now dated the origin of his illness” (217). Soon after this oVer was made, Edwards’s illness began to disappear—an appetite returned, along with some strength, although disturbingly enough for Hamilton, he continued to refer to the promise of a furlough. With some trepidation, Hamilton mentioned the oVer to his commanding oYcers, noting that it had gone some way to curing the patient’s nostalgia, and the furlough was luckily granted. Edwards, so it seems, was allowed to return to Wales for a time, and the attack of nostalgia was averted.

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