Houses as sites of memory in Penelope Lively’s writings
Selected contents from this journal
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This paper will analyse the representation of houses in selected novels and non-fiction by Penelope Lively. Houses feature in her writings as material objects as well as immaterial forms created by the human psyche; they may also be conceptualised as organic beings whose lives mirror the lives of their inhabitants. However, it will be argued that for the characters in Lively’s novels houses function primarily as sites of memory. Houses are treated as repositories of the past, both because they hold secure its material remnants and because they have the potential to evoke memories and thus enable people to forge and maintain meaningful connections with the past. The article will also take account of Lively’s three autobiographical books, Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, A House Unlocked, and Ammonites and Leaping Fish, in which the writer embarks on the project of retrieving memories by exploring, respectively, three houses she used to reside in as “material memoirs” of her own past as well as collective history.
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