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Title: The Rites of Memory: Orwell, Pynchon, DeLillo, and the American Millennium
Authors: Carter, Steven
Keywords: MemoryAlteration of memoryMnemophobiaThe postmodern man
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Steven Carter, "The Rites of Memory: Orwell, Pynchon, DeLillo, and the American Millennium", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, VI (1999), pp. 5-21
Series/Report no.: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali
VI (1999)
Abstract: Memory, as one of the most important faculties of the soul, has always held a special place in the philosophy, religion and literature of the West. Without it, the human understanding cannot grow, since this growth is nurtured by the reflection and meditation on one’s own previous mistakes. In "Nineteen Eighty-Four", memory is a significant issue: George Orwell claims that the Western man suffers from mnemophobia, and that one of the ways Big Brother controls its subjects is through the alteration of memory. This happens by substituting personal recollection with altered, dysfunctional memories, and by making people unable to even understand the meaning of memory itself. "The Crying of Lot 49" and "White Noise" are satires about the importance and the place held by memory in the life of postmodern men. Thomas Pynchon creates a character, Oedipa Maas, who is 'meant to remember'; while Don DeLillo reflects on the timelessness of the shopping mall and a drug that is created to quash the fear of death but causes episodes of déjà vu as a side effect. The common thread in the three novels is how society tries to control, modify and eventually erase memories which are considered too dangerous or uncomfortable.
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:1999 / 6 Prospero. Rivista di culture anglo-germaniche

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