A Primer for Forgetting
We live in a culture that prizes memory – how much we can store, the quality of what’s preserved, how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced. But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear, but rather as a blessing, a balm, a path to peace and forgiveness?
A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship, autobiography and social criticism. It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern, weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force. It also turns inward, using the author’s own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil.
Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical, A Primer for Forgetting is a unique and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced.
An act of pure pleasure from first to last -- MICHAEL CHABON A glorious grab-bag stuffed with necessary loot, a joyful plum pudding rich in treasures -- MARGARET ATWOOD * * Los Angeles Times * * A modern classic . . . which celebrates the power of disruptive imagination * * Guardian * * Praise for Trickster Makes This World: This book is a revelation * * The Times * * Hyde will shake how you think of things . . . He is one of the best writers we've got going, if only for how seriously he takes his readers' intelligence, how little he's trying to pander. There's no clear answer to how to get past the past, what details or abstractions to remember or let go of, and Hyde is not claiming there is. But if we ever - as individuals or a society - are going to find a way forward, I'm betting that Hyde'll have something to do with it * * Minneapolis Star Tribune * * An open-hearted interdisciplinarian . . . Hyde could never give a TED Talk. He refuses to sand the edges or round off the corners of his ideas * * Los Angeles Review of Books * * Lewis Hyde's new book is so counterintuitive, so bracingly clear and fresh, that reading it is like leaping into a cold lake on a hot hike. It shocks the mind. It flushes all kinds of monotony and mental fatigue right out of your system * * Wall Street Journal * * The sequence of Lewis Hyde's brilliant cultural interventions here reaches a new height, but also a new level of intimacy and compassion. The book feels not so much written as "unforgotten" onto the page, out of our collective desire to rescue the world -- JONATHAN LETHEM In A Primer for Forgetting, that bold yet gentle intellectual adventurer, Lewis Hyde, harrows the bottomless mysteries of memory and forgetting, trauma and recovery, amnesia and commemoration, reconciliation and forgiveness. If this deep, poignant, soulful, inquisitive, gently tragic and disarmingly erudite book were nine times longer, I would still have felt sad when I realized it was coming to an end -- MICHAEL CHABON An absorbing exploration of memory, creative freedom and the importance of forgetting . . . wonderfully inventive . . . intriguing and original * * Guardian * *
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