Maurice Halbwachs, social memory, and the Greek lyric poets
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Literary texts may enable a much later reader to observe how collective memory interrelates with personalremembrance. This goes without saying for Jane Austen or George Eliot. What is new, however, is that passagesfrom epinician poetry by Simonides, Pindar, and Bacchylides may inform on the same process, i.e. theinvention of a society’s collective remembrance, or social memory. The argument is inspired by MauriceHalbwachs, according to whom a society’s cultural complexity is revealed by literature. Halbwachs readBalzac and Dickens, he often cited Stendhal and even Proust, but the practice of which he speaks obtained alsoin those groups in antiquity where Sappho and Alcaeus performed.
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