Memory, trauma, death : the intervention of language and narrative
This article discusses the options that narrative and language have in their attempts to capture or describe traumatic experience and death. It concentrates on two prose texts by Karel Čapek, Obyčejný život and Povětroň, and the first phase of Freudian psychoanalysis, pointing at generally distinguishable limits and distortions that arise when narrative and language come in contact with trauma and death. Contrary to the current trend within "trauma studies", the article does not deal with autobiographical records of traumatic experience. It rather tries to point out that thinking consistently about the connection between memory, language and trauma tends to blur and question the traditional distinction between fiction (understood as a work of imagination) and autobiography (taken as a description of real events). It also tries to show that psychoanalysis arrives, explicitly and implicitly, at a similar conclusion. The last part of the article poses the question what the resulting relationship between the outside (narrated, written story) and the "inner" experience is like, and to what extent the structure of this dyad can also be questioned.
Česká literatura, redakce, Ústav pro českou literaturu AV ČR, v. v. i., Na Florenci 3/1420, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Publication order reference