Georges Perec’s Zeit-Raum: Creating a Space of Remembrance

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Abstract

Georges Perec’s memoir of his analysis, “The Scene of a Stratagem” (1977), is part of a literary oeuvre characterized by innovative forms addressing the paradoxical task of telling a story that cannot be told. His life history was constructed from memory traces, veiled behind the untimely death of his parents in World War II. The memoir tells the story of his analysis in adulthood with Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, at a time when Perec was struggling with depression and writer’s block. Beneath doubts and the tedious analytic routine, Perec presents analysis as a space in which memory traces can be given new life. The historical past takes place in a space Walter Benjamin calls time-space (Zeit-raum), or time-dream (Zeit-traum). This space is created in a flash of co-incidence between dreaming and waking. History, then, is created in a space where archived memory traces are transformed into present experience. Perec creates a kind of Benjaminian dream-space of the past to deal with the fragmentation of memory that follows traumatic loss. The significance of this distinct space is discussed in relation to the challenge of representing traumatic experiences while remaining faithful to the dreamlike and fragmented nature of the space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-901
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
Volume70
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Keywords

  • Freudian theory
  • Georges Perec
  • Walter Benjamin
  • dreams
  • memory
  • philosophy
  • transitional space
  • trauma
  • unconscious

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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