Representations of Forgetting in Life Writing and Fiction

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir

Memory Studies Series – Palgrave Macmillan


This book primarily focuses on the concept of forgetting, with particular emphasis on how we can trace the forgotten in contemporary life writing and memory texts. It consists of two main parts: the first concentrates on life writing in particular and what the author calls “scenes of forgetting”; the second examines both fiction and autobiographies that deal with questions of collective memory/forgetting. The book’s principal aim is to map methods and strategies writers employ when writing the forgotten – it argues that forgetting is a constant companion in any memory text and plays a decisive role in the memory work performed in the texts. The main theoretical objective is to examine carefully the connection between collective memory and personal memory, by drawing from two disciplines at once: memory studies and theories on life writing. By considering both areas of research, the conclusions of this study are able to feed into both theoretical perspectives. 


Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland and holds a PhD from the University of London, UK. Her research interests include life writing, memory studies, photography and writers’ autobiographies. Among her publications on life writing is the book Borderlines: Autobiography and Fiction in Postmodern Life Writing. 

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