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

Amnesiac Selves

Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870

Hardcover Published: 1st October 2001
ISBN: 9780195143577
Number Of Pages: 308

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With the novelistic achievements of Joyce, Proust, and Woolf in mind, we have come to understand the novel as an art form intimately tied to the impulses and processes of memory, and novel writing as a heroic act of preservation. However, in the Victorian novel, as Nicholas Dames contends in this original study, memory is less a valorized theme than a dilemma or a threat. Based on an investigation of representative British novels during the years 1810-1870, Amnesiac Selves shows that the Victorian novel bears no such secure relation to memory, and, in fact, it tries to hide, evade, and eliminate detailed remembrance. Dames argues that the notable scarcity and distinct unease of representations of recollection in the nineteenth-century 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, Dames evokes a novelistic world and a culture engaged in forming a modern nostalgia whose origins our own time has largely forgotten.

"Amnesiac Selves is a highly intelligent, stimulating work, which will keep readers in constant dialogue. Dames is a skilful close reader of texts, and moves deftly between individual analysis ad general claim."--Sally Shuttleworth, Victorian Studies "If a major challenge of analyzing the Victorian novel is the sheer excess of material, Nicholas Dames's Amnesiac Selves...brilliantly argues that forgetting that detail is central not only to interpreting those novels but to the structure of the novels themselves."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 "Amnesiac Selves is an insightful book, and its insights are important. Nicholas Dames develops in this helpful volume a revisionist view of memory in the early Victorian novel, a view so innovative it not only illuminates our modern perspective of the Victorian mental landscape, it reshapes it.... This careful study deserves reading. Even if you don't agree as enthusiastically as I do with Nicholas Dames' analysis of Victorian views of memory from 1810 through 1870, I will be surprised if those views don't stimulate review of your personal world view. If the way we remember the past matters, Amnesiac Selves..., with its meticulously detailed revision of our picture of Victorian memory, bears thinking about."--Steven C. Walker, Studies in the Novel "This is a remarkable book. Nicholas Dames has a rare gift for lucid, well-structured argument, and he takes care with his elegant prose. There is a sensibility and intelligence here--and a willingness to make large, debatable claims--that will engage Victorianists, specialists in the novel, humanists interested in the history of psychology, and the many who follow the current cultural-studies investigations of trauma, memory, and narrative."--Alison Booth, University of Virginia "Nicholas Dames presents a compelling series of readings of classical texts that cause us to rethink dominant accounts of the history of the novel, questioning, for instance, the by now commonplace assumption that the Victorian novel privileges interiority and depth over surface readings of character. This work will be of interest not only to critics and students of the literary figures Dames handles so authoritatively--Austen, Bront"e, Dickens, Thackeray, Collins, Eliot--but also to those who are more broadly interested in the history of science and the development of psychology in this period, as well as those committed to understanding memory itself. Dames works effectively, even gracefully in two registers--the literary and the medical/scientific--producing a satisfying contextual understanding of the Victorian culture of memory as absence."--Deirdre D'Albertis, Bard College "Amnesiac Selves is a highly intelligent, stimulating work, which will keep readers in constant dialogue. Dames is a skilful close reader of texts, and moves deftly between individual analysis ad general claim."--Sally Shuttleworth, Victorian Studies "If a major challenge of analyzing the Victorian novel is the sheer excess of material, Nicholas Dames's Amnesiac Selves...brilliantly argues that forgetting that detail is central not only to interpreting those novels but to the structure of the novels themselves."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 "Amnesiac Selves is an insightful book, and its insights are important. Nicholas Dames develops in this helpful volume a revisionist view of memory in the early Victorian novel, a view so innovative it not only illuminates our modern perspective of the Victorian mental landscape, it reshapes it.... This careful study deserves reading. Even if you don't agree as enthusiastically as I do with Nicholas Dames' analysis of Victorian views of memory from 1810 through 1870, I will be surprised if those views don't stimulate review of your personal world view. If the way we remember the past matters, Amnesiac Selves..., with its meticulously detailed revision of our picture of Victorian memory, bears thinking about."--Steven C. Walker, Studies in the Novel

Introduction: Reading Nostalgiap. 3
Austen's Nostalgicsp. 20
Amnesiac Bodies: Phrenology, Physiognomy, and Memory in Charlotte Brontep. 76
Associated Fictions: Dickens, Thackeray, and Mid-Century Fictional Autobiographyp. 125
The Birth of Amnesia: Collins, Sensation, Forgettingp. 167
The Unremembered Past: Eliot's Romola and Amnesiac Historiesp. 206
Conclusion: Nostalgic Readingp. 236
Notesp. 243
Bibliographyp. 281
Indexp. 293
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195143577
ISBN-10: 0195143574
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 1st October 2001
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.88  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.61