The Anatomy of Memory

The Anatomy of Memory : An Anthology

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Description

As we appproach the end of the millennium, it often seems that we are losing a spiritual awareness of who and what we are, either as individuals or societies. In such circumstances, argues James McConkey, memory becomes increasingly important as the source of whatever unitary aspirations we have. Memory is responsible for our identity, it is the faculty whereby we perceive connections between past and present, thus enabling us to make sense of our surroundings, and it underlies our creative achievements. This book explores all dimensions of the role of memory in human life and experience. Tracing this theme from St Augustine to the present, through essays and excerpts from the literature of relevant fields, the anthology includes sections on "The Nature of Memory", "The Memory of Nature", "Memory and Creativity", "Memory, Culture and Identity", "Perspectives of Memory" and "Beyond Memory". Pieces by Henry Thoreau, Carl Jung, William Wordsworth, Primo Levi, Anton Chekhov, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, enlighten the reader both to the nature of memory and the values it can provide us with.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 519 pages
  • 134.62 x 213.36 x 43.18mm | 793.78g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195078411
  • 9780195078411

About James McConkey

About the Editor: James McConkey is a writer and teacher who has been associated with Cornell University since 1956, most recently as the Goldwin Smith Professor of English Literature. He is the author of many books, including To a Distant Island, Rowan's Progress, and Stories of My Life with the Other Animals, the concluding volume of the acclaimed autobiographical series Court of Memory.show more

Review quote

"An engrossing treasury of commentaries on memory as the necessary condition of individual and cultural identity, and as the provider of the materials and themes of our philosophies, religions, and literary creations. For each of the diverse selections from St. Augustine to Toni Morrison, McConkey has provided a compact, pointed, and luminous introduction."--M. H. Abrams, author of The Mirror and the Lamp and Natural Transcendentalism, and general editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature."It's altogether fitting that the author of Court of Memory and one of our best novelists, James McConkey, should have put together this invaluable anthology of writers remembering and writing about memory. From St. Augustine, with whome the 'anatomy' begins and ends, to Proust, Nabokov, James Agee and many others from this century, the anthology is never less than fascinating. An imaginative and substantial piece of compilation on McConkey's part."--William H. Pritchard, Department of English, Amherst College, and author of English Papers: A Teaching Life and Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered"Scientists, poets, essaysists, philosphers, novelists, theologians parade through this anthology in a display of diverse perspectives and related insight that is dazzling in its coherent complexity. Held together by the interweaving of the editor's masterful voice, this vast array and disposition of materials creates an experience for the reader in which tradition and innovation, the familiar and the strange, the insights for all time and the ceaselessly transforming discoveries are in continual juxtaposition. One discovers in working one's way through this monumental edifice that its architecture embodies the very dynamic and multi-faceted character that is the nature of its subject, as revealed through Professor McConkey's very special intelligence."--Elizabeth Coleman, President, Bennington College"This is one of the small handful of truly great anthologies. It presents us with a wide range of modern thought and writing on the nature and importance of memory, a sort of United Nations of writers concerned with a subject which they and McConkey understand as a central--perhaps the central--aspect of the human condition. From a vast array of separate and different cultural voices, memory emerges again and again as the key to one's identity, the key to what we call mind, and the key to what we would like to call soul. McConkey is a modern Proust, and this book is a collective remembrance of things past. Here is a world of particular individual voices, each one saying, in a fresh and different way, 'we are what we were.'"--Robert D. Richardson, Jr., author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire"Within each category and between categories the selections interresonate and encourage not linear but radial exploration, sunwheels of exploration and speculation."--The Boston Book Review"In this anthology...McConkey provides brief introduction to reflections by novelists, scientists, and philosophers, each of whom consider some aspect of that most precious of all the brain's activities. The result is an entertaining and exhilarating volume, certainly one that's hard to forget."--The Washington Post"McConkey draws on sources as varied as St. Augustine, Toni Morrison, Carl Jung, and M.F.K. Fisher to present the basic neurological function as a rich tapestry of human individuality, creativity, and spirituality."--U.S. News & World Report"An engrossing treasury of commentaries on memory as the necessary condition of individual and cultural identity, and as the provider of the materials and themes of our philosophies, religions, and literary creations. For each of the diverse selections from St. Augustine to Toni Morrison, McConkey has provided a compact, pointed, and luminous introduction."--M. H. Abrams, author of The Mirror and the Lamp and Natural Transcendentalism, and general editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature."It's altogether fitting that the author of Court of Memory and one of our best novelists, James McConkey, should have put together this invaluable anthology of writers remembering and writing about memory. From St. Augustine, with whome the 'anatomy' begins and ends, to Proust, Nabokov, James Agee and many others from this century, the anthology is never less than fascinating. An imaginative and substantial piece of compilation on McConkey's part."--William H. Pritchard, Department of English, Amherst College, and author of English Papers: A Teaching Life and Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered"Scientists, poets, essaysists, philosphers, novelists, theologians parade through this anthology in a display of diverse perspectives and related insight that is dazzling in its coherent complexity. Held together by the interweaving of the editor's masterful voice, this vast array and disposition of materials creates an experience for the reader in which tradition and innovation, the familiar and the strange, the insights for all time and the ceaselessly transforming discoveries are in continual juxtaposition. One discovers in working one's way through this monumental edifice that its architecture embodies the very dynamic and multi-faceted character that is the nature of its subject, as revealed through Professor McConkey's very special intelligence."--Elizabeth Coleman, President, Bennington Collegeshow more

Rating details

25 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 28% (7)
4 44% (11)
3 16% (4)
2 12% (3)
1 0% (0)
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