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"Remembrance is Not Enough": The Political Function of Tony Harrison’s Poetry

"Remembrance is Not Enough": The Political Function of Tony Harrison’s Poetry Abstract: Tony Harrison’s dramatic works frequently engage with issues of cultural memory, both what is remembered and what is forgotten. In most instances, Harrison explores these issues by engaging with canonical texts, which, like certain examples of material culture—particularly monumental architecture—are marked by both their duration and by the accretion of a multiplicity of interpretations and symbolic functions. These works become, to use Pierre Nora’s term, lieux de mémoire , “sites of memory,” endowed by the collective cultural imagination with a symbolic aura. Nora noted “that lieux de mémoire only exist because of their capacity for metamorphosis, an endless recycling of their meaning and an unpredictable proliferation of their ramifications” (19). It is with the metamorphic nature of mythic characters, texts, and sites that Harrison engages as they provide him spaces endowed with significance by both the past and the present: these are spaces in which collective and cultural memory has been repeatedly constructed through the centuries. Numerous aspects of memory in Harrison’s work could be fruitfully explored, but this paper limits itself to a relatively brief discussion of Harrison’s examination of remembrance, or the lack thereof, in the mythic examples of Hecuba, Medea, and Hercules, and the historical figures such as Faustina and the anonymous victims of contemporary conflicts. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Syllecta Classica Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa

"Remembrance is Not Enough": The Political Function of Tony Harrison’s Poetry

Syllecta Classica , Volume 19 – Apr 1, 2008

"Remembrance is Not Enough": The Political Function of Tony Harrison’s Poetry


: 221-236 "REMEMBRANCE IS NOT ENOUGH": THE POLITICAL FUNCTION OF TONY HARRISON'S POETRY HALLIE REBECCA MARSHALL In the Third World War we'll destroy not only modern cities but the memory of Troy --Tony Harrison, The Common Chorus Abstract: Tony Harrison's dramatic works frequently engage with issues of cultural memory, both what is remembered and what is forgotten. In most instances, Harrison explores these issues by engaging with canonical texts, which, like certain examples of material culture--particularly monumental architecture--are marked by both their duration and by the accretion of a multiplicity of interpretations and symbolic functions. These works become, to use Pierre Nora's term, lieux de mémoire, "sites of memory," endowed by the collective cultural imagination with a symbolic aura.1 Nora noted "that lieux de mémoire only exist because of their capacity for metamorphosis, an endless recycling of their meaning and an unpredictable proliferation of their ramifications" (19). It is with the metamorphic nature of mythic characters, texts, and sites that Harrison engages as they provide him spaces endowed with significance by both the past and the present: these are spaces in which collective and cultural memory has been repeatedly constructed through the centuries. Numerous aspects of memory in Harrison's work could be fruitfully explored, but this paper limits itself to a relatively brief discussion of Harrison's examination of remembrance, or the lack thereof, in the mythic examples of Hecuba, Medea, and Hercules, and the historical figures such as Faustina and the anonymous victims of contemporary conflicts.2 Nora edited the seven-volume project Les Lieux de mémoire (1984­1992), which sought to examine the construction of French national identity. An English translation of his introductory essay, "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,"...
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Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa
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Copyright © The University of Iowa
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2160-5157
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Abstract

Abstract: Tony Harrison’s dramatic works frequently engage with issues of cultural memory, both what is remembered and what is forgotten. In most instances, Harrison explores these issues by engaging with canonical texts, which, like certain examples of material culture—particularly monumental architecture—are marked by both their duration and by the accretion of a multiplicity of interpretations and symbolic functions. These works become, to use Pierre Nora’s term, lieux de mémoire , “sites of memory,” endowed by the collective cultural imagination with a symbolic aura. Nora noted “that lieux de mémoire only exist because of their capacity for metamorphosis, an endless recycling of their meaning and an unpredictable proliferation of their ramifications” (19). It is with the metamorphic nature of mythic characters, texts, and sites that Harrison engages as they provide him spaces endowed with significance by both the past and the present: these are spaces in which collective and cultural memory has been repeatedly constructed through the centuries. Numerous aspects of memory in Harrison’s work could be fruitfully explored, but this paper limits itself to a relatively brief discussion of Harrison’s examination of remembrance, or the lack thereof, in the mythic examples of Hecuba, Medea, and Hercules, and the historical figures such as Faustina and the anonymous victims of contemporary conflicts.

Journal

Syllecta ClassicaDepartment of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Published: Apr 1, 2008

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