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Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe

Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe BOOK REVIEWS/353 this cult of memory were already apparent to Montaigne, who asserted “for the first time in European intellectual history” that “savoir par coeur n’est pas savoir” (43), anticipating Paul Valéry’s obsessive insistence that “sans oubli on n’est que perroquet” (143). Weinrich stresses that forgetting may be either voluntary, as Valéry wants it to be in order to facilitate thought, or involuntary, as in amnesia, which can, of course, be feigned, as it is by the protagonist of Pirandello’s Il fu Mattia Pascal. It can be seen either positively or negatively. For Borges’s Funes, hypermnesia, the inability to forget, is a curse that makes it hard for him to think and even to sleep. “The simple need to sleep therefore requires an elementary art of forgetting,” which turns out to be a version of the “places” prescribed in the ancient artes memoriae: Funes can sleep only by imagining “a row of dark houses ‘made of homogeneous darkness’” in which “the contents of memory disappear” (103). Forgetting may be deliberate and may even be imposed by the state: “In Rome the punishment of damnatio memoriae was applied primarily to rulers and other powerful persons who at their death http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Theatres and Encyclopedias in Early Modern Europe

Comparative Literature , Volume 57 (4) – Jan 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-57-4-359
Publisher site
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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS/353 this cult of memory were already apparent to Montaigne, who asserted “for the first time in European intellectual history” that “savoir par coeur n’est pas savoir” (43), anticipating Paul Valéry’s obsessive insistence that “sans oubli on n’est que perroquet” (143). Weinrich stresses that forgetting may be either voluntary, as Valéry wants it to be in order to facilitate thought, or involuntary, as in amnesia, which can, of course, be feigned, as it is by the protagonist of Pirandello’s Il fu Mattia Pascal. It can be seen either positively or negatively. For Borges’s Funes, hypermnesia, the inability to forget, is a curse that makes it hard for him to think and even to sleep. “The simple need to sleep therefore requires an elementary art of forgetting,” which turns out to be a version of the “places” prescribed in the ancient artes memoriae: Funes can sleep only by imagining “a row of dark houses ‘made of homogeneous darkness’” in which “the contents of memory disappear” (103). Forgetting may be deliberate and may even be imposed by the state: “In Rome the punishment of damnatio memoriae was applied primarily to rulers and other powerful persons who at their death

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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