Les syncopes de la mémoire : l’oubli et le reniement dans quelques œuvres de George Eliot
Literature, British Isles
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AbstractMemory is a cornerstone in George Eliot’s fiction in that most of her novels emphasize both its affective function and the positive value of nostalgia, therefore suggesting a cult for a stable and reassuring past. In this perspective, collective and individual memory guarantee a harmonious order in what is presented as a causal world. This ideal linear pattern, i.e. the organic chain linking past, present and future, is however recurrently interrupted by accidents affecting memory and endangering the individual’s moral development and his relation to his environment. Eliot shows how visual deficiencies are often symptomatic of amnesia in characters whose obliteration of the past threatens to shatter their moral selves. The reintegration of memory into their experience and the acceptance of their heritage are the keys to their final awakening to morality. Memory is then central to Eliot’s theory of sympathy as a replacement for religion as a binding force in the web of the human community.