A packed, provocative anthology on a subject close to us all, with analyses of memory (and forgetting) ranging from childhood recollections to the latest neuroscience, Plato to Freud, medieval poets to London taxi drivers.
You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realise that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all… Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.'
Luis Buńuel, Memoirs
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
This intriguing anthology introduces us to arguments and experiences, evocative moments and hard scientific debate on the subject of memory, the thread that holds our lives and our history together. With an introduction by A.S. Byatt, the book is arranged in themed sections, and includes specially commissioned essays by writers with expertise in different fields – from ‘Memory and Evolution’ by Patrick Bateson to ‘Memory and Forgetting’ by the biographer Richard Holmes, and an account of the chemistry of the brain, by Steven Rose. The fascinating extracts move through the ages from Plato and Aristotle to Montaigne and Shakespeare, Voltaire and Hume, Wordsworth and Proust, Freud and Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, W.G. Sebald and Haruki Murakami. Stimulating and provocative and often profoundly moving, Memory
is a book to treasure – and remember.
Harriet Harvey Wood is the former Head of Literature at the British Council and A.S. Byatt is pre-eminent as a novelist and critic, whose most recent novel is A Whistling Woman