Awareness

6564 Words Apr 17th, 2010 27 Pages
Fiction, Between Inner Life and Collective Memory. A Methodological Reflection. François-Xavier Lavenne, Virginie Renard, François Tollet1

Introduction
In the writing of their fictional works, novelists often have to reflect on the functioning of memory, for memory lies at the heart both of inner life and of human experience in general. It is indeed in the works of writers such as Marcel Proust or Jorge Luis Borges that the best exemplifications of the subjective experience of memory are to be found. However, from a strictly mnemonic point of view, literature provides more than a means of reflecting on memory: it is also the site of the rebirth and construction of individual and collective memories, which can then serve as a foundation
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Memories were first attributed directly to a collective entity by Maurice Halbwachs in his epoch-making La Mémoire Collective (The Collective Memory).5 This sociologist claims that all memory depends, on the one hand, of the group in which one lives and, on the other, to the status one holds in that group. To remember, one therefore needs to situate oneself within a current of collective thought.6 As a result, Halbwachs concludes that there are no purely individual memories, i.e. memories that would belong only to the individual, and of which the individual would be the unique source.7 We are therefore not the authentic subjects of attribution of our memories. Several writers have attempted to reconcile these conflicting on individual memory and collective memory. For example, Paul Ricoeur argues that memory does belong to the realm of interiority, for we see ourselves as the true possessors of our own memories.8 However, memory also involves "the other" and fully bears its mark.9 From its declarative phase, memory enters the public sphere because a testimony is always presented to, and received by, an other. Moreover, Ricoeur, following in the footsteps of Halbwach, asserts that peers can assist an individual in the work of remembering.10 He therefore draws the conclusion that memory processes involve both the individual and the group. Ricoeur thus differentiates among three different poles of attribution of memory: there exists, between

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