Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870

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Oxford University Press, Jun 14, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 312 pages
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With Joyce, Proust, and Faulkner in mind, we have come to understand the novel as a form with intimate ties to the impulses and processes of memory. This study contends that this common perception is an anachronism that distorts our view of the novel. Based on an investigation of representative novels, Amnesiac Selves shows that the Victorian novel bears no such secure relation to memory, and, in fact, it tries to hide, evade, and eliminate remembering. Dames argues that the notable scarcity and distinct unease of representations of remembrance in the nineteenth-century British novel signal an art form struggling to define and construct new concepts of memory. By placing nineteenth-century British fiction from Jane Austen to Wilkie Collins alongside a wide variety of Victorian psychologies and theories of mind, Nicholas Dames evokes a novelistic world, and a culture, before modern memory--one dedicated to a nostalgic evasion of detailed recollection which our time has largely forgotten.
 

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Contents

Reading Nostalgia
3
CHAPTER 1 Austens Nostalgics
20
Phrenology Physiognomy and Memory in Charlotte Brontė
76
Dickens Thackeray and MidCentury Fictional Autobiography
125
Collins Sensation Forgetting
167
Eliots Romola and Amnesiac Histories
206
Nostalgic Reading
236
Notes
243
Bibliography
281
Index
293
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Page 7 - All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Page 283 - The Principles of Mental Physiology. With their Applications to the Training and Discipline of the Mind, and the Study of its Morbid Conditions.

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