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The Memory ProcessNeuroscientific and Humanistic Perspectives$
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Suzanne Nalbantian, Paul M. Matthews, and James L. McClelland

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014571

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014571.001.0001

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Memory in the Literary Memoir

Memory in the Literary Memoir

(p.297) 14Memory in the Literary Memoir
The Memory Process

Jr. John Burt Foster

The MIT Press

This chapter considers a range of specimen passages, written in the early and mid-twentieth century, from memoirs by poet and playwright William Butler Yeats and by novelists Vladimir Nabokov and Mary McCarthy. All three were gifted writers who became fascinated with memoir writing, not only to record a variety of vivid and important memories, but also to revisit and refine them later on. The literary memoir focuses with intensity on its author's capacity to remember, making it fertile ground for evaluating the nature and accuracy of long-term personal memory over periods of time that far exceed those of typical psychology experiments. The passages presented in this chapter raise questions about the outer limits of human memory and about its interaction, fusion, or confusion with creativity and imagination.

Keywords:   literary memoir, William Butler Yeats, Vladimir Nabokov, Mary McCarthy, capacity to remember, long-term personal memory, human memory, creativity, imagination

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