halbwachs%20collective%20memory-1

halbwachs%20collective%20memory-1 - :21”? W. ' we. _ . _...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–23. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
Background image of page 17

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 18
Background image of page 19

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 20
Background image of page 21

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 22
Background image of page 23
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: :21”? W. ' we. _ . _ The mug—Cam . . - ” —M<em@1[°y MAURICE HALBWACHS Translated from the French by Francis J. Ditter, Jr. and Vida Yazdi Ditter \. A .. A“g,u?.Zfil4Mmn.uu.\M&—mc_w~fi_4vl-M-:2.'.n¢v r A _- Q . HARPER COLOPHON BOOKS HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS NEW YORK, CAMBRIDGE, HAGERSTOWN, PHILADELPHIA, SAN FRANCISCO, LONDON, MEXICO CITY, SAO PAULO, SYDNEY WW '\ . . . t we have shared nothing With our former companions for so long. 32 The Collective Memory that our companions are still influenced by a feeling that we once 5 experienced with them but do no longer? We can’t evoke it because ‘5 There is nothing to fault in our memory or theirs. But a larger Col- { lective memory, encompassing both ours and theirs, has disap- \‘ peared. ‘ ( Similarly, men who have been brought close together—for exam- ple, by a shared task, mutual devotion, common ancestry, or artistic endeavor—may disperse afterwards into various groups. Each 'new j group is too restricted to retain everything that concerned the l thoughts of the original party, literary coterie, or religious congre- ,x gation. So each fastens onto one facet'of its thought and remembers only part of its activities. Several pictures of that common past are thus generated, none being really accurate or coinciding with any ; other. Once they are separated, not one of them can reproduce the ' total content of the original thought. If two such groups come back into contact, what they lack in order to mutually encompass, under- ; stand, and confirm remembrances of that past common life is pre- cisely the capacity to forget the barriers dividing them. A misunder- standing weighs upon them, much as upon two men who meet once “g again only to find, as is said, that they no longer “speak the same language.” ’ What about the fact that we remember impressions that none of our companions could have known about at the time? This in itself is no more a proof of our memory being self-suflicient and without . need of the support of others’ memories. Suppose that at the time ' we begin a trip with a group of friends, we are vitally concerned with some matter they know nothing about. Since we are absorbed in our ideas and feelings, everything seen or heard is related to it. ? We nourish our secret thought from everything in the field of per- ! ception that can be connected with it. It is as if we had never left ' that distant group of human beings who are the basis for our con- _ cern. We incorporate into that group every element assimilable , from our new milieu. By contrast, we hold to the new milieu, con- ' sidere‘d in itself and from the viewpoint of our companions, with the least significant part of ourself. If we think about that trip later on, Individual Memory and Collective Memory 33 we cannot say that we placed ourself within the viewpoint of those who made the trip with us. We recall.them only as their persons were included in the framework of our concerns. Similarly, when at dusk we entered a room for the first time, we saw the walls, furni- ture, and furnishings through a shadow of darkness. These fantastic and mysterious shapes are retained in our memory as a barely real framework for those feelings of uneasiness, surprise, or sadness we experienced at that first view of the room. Seeing the room in day- light is _not enough to recall them to us. We must also think about those feelings we then experienced. Was it, therefore, our personal response that so\ transfigured these objects‘for us? Yes, if you pre-1 fer—but only on condition that we do not forget that our most per- sonal feelings and thoughts originate in definite social milieus and 3 circumstances. The effect of that contrast resulted primarily from; the fact that we sought, in these objects, not what was seen by those familiar with them, .but what was related to the concerns of those persons through' whose thoughts we saw that room the first time. On the Possibility of a Strictly Individual Memory If this analysis is correct, its conclusions may permit a reply to the most serious and, moreover, most natural objection to thethpeory that a person remembers only by situating himself within the view- point of one or several groups and one or several currents of collec- tive thought. It may be conceded that a great many of our remembrances reap- pear because other persons recall them to us. Even in those in- stances when others are not physically present and we evoke an event that had a place in the life of our group, it might be granted that we can speak of collective memory because we once enVISaged that event, as we still do now’in the moment we recall it, from the viewpoint of this group. We are certainly justified in requesting agreement with this second point, because such a mental attitude 15 possible only for a person who belongs (or has belonged) to a group _..._‘ ,- 34 The Collective 'Memory and thus still feels, even at a distance, its influence. The fact that we could think about a certain object only because we act as a member of a group is sufficient reason to state that an obvious conditiOn of that thought is the existence of the group. Hence, a person return- ing home by himself has undoubtedly spent some time “all alone,” as the saying goes: 'But he has been alone in appearance only, be- cause his thoughts and actions during even this period are explained by his nature as a social being and his not having ceased for one in- stant to be enclosed within some group. The difficulty does not rest here. . But don’t some remembrances reappear that can in no way be connected with a group? The events they reproduce would be per- ceived by ourself when we were really and not only apparently alone. Such remembrances would not be resituated within the thought of any body of individuals, and we would recall them by placing ourself within a viewpoint that could only be our own. Even were instances of this type very rare or even exceptional, the verifi- cation of just a few would establish that the collective memory does not account for all our remembrances and, perhaps, cannot alone explain the evocation of any remembrance. After all, given our analysis, it could be that all these conceptions and images that de- rive from our social groups and operate in the) memory he like a screen over the individual remembrance, even in those cases when we never become aware of that remembrance. The whole point is to know if such a remembrance could exist, if it is conceivable. The fact that it occurs, even if only once, suffices to prove that nothing opposes its operation in every case. There would then be, at the ba- sis of every remembrance, the recollection of a purely individual conscious state that, in order to distinguish it from perceptions per- meated by elements of sbcial thought, could be called a “sensory in- tuition.” As Charles Blondel has written: We experience some uneasiness to see totally (or almost totally) eliminated from remembering any glimmer of that sensory intuition which, while not the sum total, is very evidently the essential prelude and condition sine qua non of perception. . . . For us to avoid confus- Individual Memory and Collective Memory 35 ing the reconstitution of our own proper past with that which we can fabricate from the past of our fellow men, in order for this empirical- ly, logically, and socially possible past to become indentified with our real past, certain parts must be something more than a mere re- constitution of borrowed materials.‘ Désiré Roustan has written to me: If you content yourself to say that, when an individual thinks that he evokes the past, it is really ninety-nine percent reconstruction and one percent true evocation, that residue of one percent, which resists your explanation, suffices as a basis for the whole problem of the conservation of remembrances. Now, can you avoid that residual ele- ment? Childhood, Remembrances Remembrances that take us back to a time when our sensations re- flected only external objects, when we hadn’t introduced images or thoughts connected with men and groups around us, are difficult to find. Indeed, we recall nothing of early childhood because‘our im- pressions could not fasten onto any support so long as we were not yet a social being. According to Stendhal: The earliest remembrance that I have is biting the cheek or forehead of my cousin Madame Pison du Galland. . . a plump woman of twenty-five, who wore a great deal of rouge. . . .I can still see the whole scene, but that’s probably because I was roundly chastised on the spot and never heard the end 'of it.2 Similarly, he recalls the day that he teased a mule, which then V kicked him. “A little more would have killed him,” my grandfather used to say. I can picture the incident, but it is probably not a direct remembrance, 1 Charles Blondel, “Critical Review” (of Maurice Halbwachs’ Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire), Revue philosophique 707 (1926), p. 296. ' Stendhal, Vie d’Henri Brulard, ed. Henri Martineau (Paris: Le Divan I, 1949), p. 36. 36 The Collective Memory only a remembrance of the picture I formed of the matter a very long time ago, when I was first told about it.3 The same is true of most so-called childhood remembrances. The earliest that I have long considered myself able to retrieve is our ar- rival in Paris. I was ten and a half. We climbed the stairs to our fourth-floor apartment in the evening, and we children commented out loud that Paris meant living in a silo. Now perhaps one of us did make that remark. But our parents, who were amused, remem- bered the incident and recounted it to us later on. I can still picture our lighted staircase, but then I saw it many times after that first time. _ ' Here‘ is an event from the childhood of Benevenuto Cellini relat- ed at the beginning of his Autobiography. He is not certain that it is a remembrance. Nonetheless, we offer it as an aid to better under— standing the example that follows, which we will thoroughly ana- lyze. _ I was about three years old. My grandfather, Andréa Cellini, was . still living and more-than a hundred years old. One day while the pipe for the sink was being changed, a giant scorpion crept out of it. Unseen by the others, he got to the grOund and hid under a bench. I saw it, ran to it, and picked it up. It was so big that its tail stuck out from one side of my hand while its claws stuck out at the other. I ran joyfully, so I am told, to my grandfather saying “Look, grandfather, at my beautiful little crayfish.” He immediately recognized it as a scorpion and in his love for me, he almost died from fright. He begged me for it, with many caresses, but I held onto it all the more tightly, crying that I would not give it up to anyone. My father, who was in the house, came running at the outcry. Thunderstruck, he did not know how to take that venemous animal from me without its first killing me, when suddenly his eyes fell on a pair of scissors. Armed with them and coaxing me at the same time, he cut off the tailand the claws of the scorpion. Once the danger was over, he con- sidered the episode a good omen. This exciting and dramatic episode unfolded completely within the family. In picking up the scorpion, the child did not realize that ' Ibid., p. 62. . Individual Memory and Collective Memory 37 it was a dangerous animal. It was for him a small crayfish, like those his parents had shown him and let him touch, a kind of toy. In reality, a foreign element had penetrated into the home, and both grandfather and father reacted characteristically. The child’s crying - and the parents’ comforting, caressing, anxiety, terror, and subse- quent burst of joy constitute so many familial responses defining the meaning of the event. Even if we grant that the child recalls this episode, the image is still situated within the framework of the fam— ily, because it was initially enacted there and has never left it. Let us how listen to Charles Blondel. I remember once, as a child, exploring an abandoned house and, in the middle of a dark room, suddenly falling up to my waist into a hole which had water at the bottom. I quite easily recognize when and where the thing occurred, but my knowing is totally subordinat- ed in this case to my remembering.‘ We are to understand that the remembrance occurs as an un- localized image. He doesn’t recall it, therefore, by thinking first about the house—that is, by placing himself in the viewpoint of the family living there. This is all the more true because, as Blondel says, he never told his parents about the incident nor has he thought about it since then. And he adds: In this instance, while I needed to reconstitute the environment of ’ my remembrance, I by no means needed to reconstitute the remem- brance itself. In memories of this kind, it seems correct to say that we have a direct contact with the past which precedes and conditions the historical reconstruction? This narrative is clearly different from the preceding. First of all, Cellini indicates the time and place of the episode he recalls, some- thing Blondel'is completely unaware of when he evokes his fall into a hole half full of water. Indeed Blondel stresses this- very omission. Nonetheless, this may not be the essential difference between the two cases. The group to which the child at this age most intimately belongs, which constantly surrounds him, is the family. Now, in ‘ “Critical Review,” p. 296. ‘1bid._, pp. 296-297. _ . _.__‘ ,_. mg... l 38 The Collective Memory this instance, the child has left the family. Not only does he no long- : er see his parents, but he may not even have them in mind. At any rate, they do not intervene in this bit of history, either because they were not even informed about it or because they did. not consider it important enough to retain and relate later on to him who had been itshero. But are these facts sufficient to state that he was truly alone? Is it true that the novelty and intensity of this impression— the distress of being abandoned and the strangeness and surprise in the face of the unexpected, of the unseen and unexperienced—ex- plain his thought being diverted from his parents? On the contrary, did he not suddenly find himself in danger just because he was a child and so very dependent on adults in a network of domestic feel- ings and thoughts? But then he did think about his family and was alone in appearance only. It matters little that he doesn’t recall the specific time and place of the incident and that it is not supported by a spatial and temporal framework. The thought of the absent family provides a framework, and the child need not, as Blondel says, “reconstitute the environment of my remembrance” because the remembrance arises within that environment. We should not be surprised that the child is unaware of it, that his attention did not focus at that momenton this aspect of his thought, or that he no longer notices it- when he recalls as an adult that childhood remem- brance. A “current of social thought” is ordinarily as invisible as - the atmosphere we breathe. In normal life its existence is recog- nized only when it is resisted, but a child calling for and needing the help of his family is not resisting it. Blondel might rightly object that the event he recalls is a set of particularswithout any relationship to any aspect of his family. Ex- ploring a dark room, he falls into a hole half full of water. Let us grant that he was frightened by being so far from his family. The essence of the fact, in, comparison with which everything else seem- ingly fades to nothing, is this image that in itself occurs as totally detached from the domestic milieu. Now it is this image, and the perservation of this image, that must be explained. As such, this im- age is indeed distinguished from every other circumstance of my sit- uation, either when I realized that I was far away from my family Individual Memory and Collective Memory 39 or when I turned to that group for help and toward that very “envi— ' ronment.” In other words, it is not clear how a framework as gener- al as the family could reproduce so particular a fact. As Blondel says, “There has to be a matter for these forms which are the collec- tive frameworks imposed by society.“ Why not simply grant that this matter indeed exists and is noth- ing more than precisely what in the remembrances is without rela- tion to the framework—that is, the sensations and sensory intu- itions that are relived in that episode? When little Poucet was abandoned in the forest by his parents, he certainly thought about them; but he was also aware of many other things. He followed sev- eral paths, climbed a tree, saw a light, approached an isolated house, and so forth. How can all this be summarized in the simple comment that he was lost and couldn’t find his parents? Had he taken other paths or had other encounters, his feeling of abandon- ment might have been the same, yet he would have kept totally dif- ferent remembrances. ' This is my answer. At the time a child becomes loSt in a forest or a house, he is immersed only in the current. of thoughts and feelings attaching him to family. As events proceed, it is as if he gets caught up in another current that removes him from it. Poucet could be said to remain within the family because he is in the company of his brothers. But he appoints himself leader, takes charge of them, and directs their activities. That is, he passes from the position of child to that of father, and he enters the group of adults while still a child. But something similar also applies to Blondel’s remembrance. That memory belongs to both child and adult because the child was for the first time in an adult situation. When he was a child, all his thoughts were at a child’s level. He was used to judging events by the standards his parents had taught him, and his surprise and fear were caused by his inability to relocate these new experiences in his little world. His own family no longer within reach, he became an adult in the sense that he found himself in the presence of novel and disturbing things (things that would certainly not have been so to the same extent for an adult). He may have stayed only moments in 3 Ibid., p. 298. __~I M. 4m I . 40 The Collective Memory that dark hole. But he made contact with a world that he would re- discover later, as he was allowed more freedom. Moreover, there are many instances throughout childhood when a child must con- front what is nonfamilial. For example, he may collide with or be injured by certain objects and thus learn to adjust to the various properties of things. He inevitably experiences a whole series of small tests, which are so many preparations for adulthood. This is ‘ the shadow that adult society projects over childhood. Sometimes it becomes far more than a shadow, as the child is called on to share the concerns and responsibilities that ordinarily fall on shoulders , stronger than his own. Then he is temporarily and partially includ- ed in the group of adults. Hence it is said of certain people that they never had a childhood. Since they had to earn their livelihood too early in life, they entered the social struggle for existence at an age when most children are unaware that such places exist. Or they have known that type of suffering reserved for adults and have had to confront it on the same level as adults—e.g., after the death and burial of someone close. The original content of such remembrances, which separates them from all others, is thus explained by the fact that they are found at the intersection of two or more series of thoughts, connect- - ing them in turn to as many different groups. It is simply insufli- cient to assert that what intersects with these series of thoughts link- ing us to a group (the family, in this case) is a series of sensations deriving from things. Everything would then become problematic once again, since this image of things would exist only for us and thus a portion of our remembrances would rest on no collective memory. But a child is afraid in the dark or when lost in a deserted place because he peoples that place with imaginary enemies, be- cause at night he fears bumping into all sorts of dangerous crea- tures. Rousseau tells how M. Lambercier gave him the key to the church one very dark autumn evening so that he could go look in the pulpit for a Bible that had been left there. On opening the door, I heard the echoings of what I thought were voices in the dome. My Roman resoluteness began to crumble. The door opened, I wanted to enter, but I had barely stepped in when I Individual Memory and Collective Memory 41 stopped. Seeing the heavy darkness which pervaded that vast place, I was so terrified that my hair stood on end. I sat down confused on a bench. I no longer knew where I was. Unable to locate either the pulpit or the door, I was inexpressibly upset. Had the church been lighted, he would have seen that no one was there and would not have been afraid. For the child the world is never empty of human beings, of good and evil influences. Perhaps more distinct images in our picture of the past correspond to these points where influences intersect because something we illuminate from two directions reveals more details and draws more of our at- tention. ‘Adult Remembrances We have said enough about childhood remembrances. Adults can just as easily evoke many remembrances so original andrso unified as to seemingly resist analysis. But we can always expose the same delusion in such examples. A given member of a group happens to also belong to another group. The thoughts from each suddenly come together in his mind. Presumably he alone perceives this con- trast between them. 'Is it not obvious, therefore, that he has an im- pression Unlike anything experienced by other members of these groups, whose only point of contact with each other is this individu- al? This remembrance is included at once in two frameworks. But each framework precludes the other’s being seen. Concentrating his attentionon their point of intersection, he is too preoccupied to per: ceive either of them distinctly. When we look in the sky for two stars belonging to different constellations, we readily imagine that by merely tracing an imaginary line between them we confer on them some sort of unity. Nevertheless, each is only an element in a group and we were able to recognize them because neither constel- lation was then hidden behind a cloud. Similarly, since two thoughts contrast and. apparently reinforce one another when brought together, we think they form a self-existing whole, inde- pendent of their parent wholes. We fail to perceive that in reality l I 42 The Collective Memory we are considering the two groups simultaneously, but each from the viewpoint of the other. Let us now revert to the hypothetical example examined pre- viously. I made a trip with some people I had just met and whom I was not destined to see again for some time. It was a pleasure trip. I neither spoke nor listened very much. My mind was full of thoughts and images my companions were neither aware of nor interested in. _ People whom I loved and who shared my concerns were introduced unawares into this milieu. A ‘whole community with which I was intimately linked was mingled with incidents and landscapes totally foreign or irrelevant to it. Let us consider my impression. It is un- doubtedly explained by what dominated my intellectual and emo- tional life. But it still unfolded within a temporal and spatial frame- work. And it unfolded amid circumstances over which my concerns cast their shadow even as they were subtly altered in turn, much as an ancient monument and the dwellings of a later time built at its base reciprocally alter the appearance of one another. Of course, as I recall that journey, I do not place myself within the same view- points that my companions do, for it is summarizéd in a series of impressions known only to myself. Nor can it be said that through memory I place myself only in the viewpoint of my relatives, friends, and favorite authors. I traveled that mountainous route with companions of given character and looks, and I inattentively participated in their conversations while my thoughts ranged in a former milieu. All the while, the impressions flowing within me were like so many novel and particular ways of considering persons dearto me and the bonds uniting us. However, in their novelty, in the many elements not found in my previous thinking of my more intimate thoughts at the time, these impressions were in another sense alien to these groups as well. They express in this manner those groups closest to us only if the latter are not physically pres- ent. Probably everything I saw and everyone I listened to attracted my attention only to the extent they made me feel the. absence of these groups. Don’t we distinguish this viewpoint—which is neither that of our present companions nor purely and completely that of our friends of yesterday and tomorrow—in order to attribute it to Individual Memory and Collective Memory 43 ourself? Isn’t the attractiveness of this impression in what is not ex- plained by our relationships with either group, what contrasts sharply to their thought and experience? I know that it cannot be shared or even surmised by my companions. I also know that it could not have been suggested to me in its present form and frame- work by my relatives and friends, about whom I was thinking at the time and to whom I now return through memory. Therefore, is there not some residue of that impreSsion that escapes both groups and exists only for me? What stand in the foreground of group memory are remem— brances of events and experiences of concern to the greatest number of members. These arise either out of group life itself or from rela- tionships‘with the nearest and most frequently contacted groups. Remembrances concerning very few members (perhaps only one) merge into the background, even though they are included in the group memory, because they have at least partially occurred within group boundaries. Two people can feel very close and share all their thoughts. If they should later come to live in different milieus, they could, through letters when apart or conversation when togeth- er, make one another acquainted with the circumstances of their new lives. But they would still need to identify with one another if everything in their experiences foreign to the other were to be as— similated into their common thought. Mlle. de Lespinasse’s letters could make the Comte de Guibert understand her feelings from afar. But she was active in the higher social circles and fashionable milieus with which membership made him also familiar. He could look at his lover, as she herself could, by putting himself within the viewpoint of these men and women who were completely unaware of their romance. He could also picture her, as'she herself could, from the viewpoint of that closed and secret group that the two comprise. Unknown to him who is far away, however, many changes could occur in that society that her letters might not ade- quately document. He might never become aware of her changing attitude toward her social world. The fact that he loves her as he does would not suffice to divine these changes in her. Ordinarily, a group has relationships with other groups. Many -; - _ a, 72.4 44 The Collective Memory events derive from such contacts, and many conceptions have no other source. These contacts and relationships may be permanent, or at least repeated often enough to endure for a long period. For example, when a family lives for a long time in the same town or near the same friends, family and town or family and friends com- pose a sort of complex group. Remembrances arise that are includ- » ed in the framework of thought of each group. An individual must belong to both groups to recognize a remembrance of this type. This condition is fulfilled by only a part of the membership of either group over any length of time, and even then in an incomplete way by family members whose main interest is their family. Moreover, family members who move, and are now influenced almost exclu- sively by family, lose their capacity to remember what they retained only because they were under the influence of two converging cur- rents of Collective thought. Furthermore, since only some members of each group are included in the other, both of these collective in- fluences are weaker than if they acted alone. For example, only a portion of the family and not the whole group can help a member recall this particular set of memories. An individual will recall and recognize such remembrances only if placed in a situation permit- ting these two influences to best combine their action upon him. Consequently, the remembrance seems less familiar, easily hides the collective factors determining it, and gives the illusion of being less under voluntary control. The Individual Remembrance as the Intersection of Collective Influences Often we deem ourselves the originators of thoughts and ideas, feel- ings and passions, actually inspired by some group. Our agreement with those about us is so complete that we vibrate in unison, igno- rant of the real source of the vibrations. How often do we present, as deeply held convictions, thoughts borrowed from a newspaper, book, or conversation? They respond so well to our way of seeing things that we are surprised to discover that their author is someone Individual Memory and Collective Memory 45 other than ourself. “That’s just what I think about that!” We are unaware that we are but an echo. The whole art of the orator prob- ably consists in his giving listeners the illusion that the convictions and feelings he arouses within them have come not from him but from themselves, that he has only divined and lent his voice to what has been worked out in their innermost consciousness. In one way or another, each social group endeavors to maintain a similar per-' suasion over its members. How many people are critical enough to discern what they owe to others in their thinking and so acknowl- edge to themselves how small their own contribution usually is? Oc- casionally an individual increases the range of his acquaintances and readings, making a virtue of an eclecticism that permits him to view‘and reconcile divergent aspects of things._ Even in such in- stances the particular dosage of opinions, the complexity of feelings and desires, may only express his accidental relationships with groups divergent or opposed on some issue. The relative value at- tributed to each way of looking at things is really a function of the respective intensity of influences that each group has separately ex- erted upon him. In any case, insofar as we yield without struggle to an external suggestion, we believe we are free in our thought and feelings. Therefore most social influences we obey usually remain unperceived. But this is probably even more true for these complex states that occur at the intersection of several currents of collective thought, states we are wont to see as unique events existing only for ourself. A traveler suddenly caught up by influences from a milieu foreign to his companions, a child exposed to adult feelings and concerns by unexpected circumstances, someone who has experienced a change of location, occupation, or family that hasn’t totally ruptured his bonds with previous groups—all-are instances of this phenomenon. ' Often the social influences concerned are much more complex, be- ing more numerous and interwoven. Hence they are more difficult and more confusing to unravel. We see each milieu by the light of the other (or others) as well as its own and so gain an impression of resisting it. Certainly each of these influences ought to emerge more sharply from their comparison and contrast. Instead, the confronta— _ .._ ‘ .._, .—.—...._..s... 46 The Collective Memory tion of these milieus gives us a feeling of no longer being involved in any of them. What becomes paramount is the “strangeness” of our situation, absorbing individual thought enough to screen off the so- cial thoughts whose conjunction has elaborated it. This strangeness cannot be fully understood by any other member of these milieus, only myself. In this sense it belongs to me and, at the moment of its occurrence, I am tempted to explain it by reference to myself and myself alone. At the most, Imight concede that circumstances (that is, the conjunction of these milieus) have served as the occasion per- mitting the production of an event long ago incorporated in my in- dividual destiny, the appearance of a feeling latent in my innermost person. I have no other means of explaining its subsequent return to memory, because others were unaware of it and have had no role in its production (as we mistakenly imagine). Therefore, in one way or another, it must have been preserved in its original form in my mind. But that is not the case at all. These remembrances that seem purely personal, since we alone are aware of and capable of retriev- ing them, are distinguished by the greater complexity of the condi- tions necessary for their recall. But this is a difference in degree only. One doctrine is satisfied to note that our past COmprises two kinds of elements. Certain elements we can evoke whenever we want. By contrast, others cannot simply be summoned and we seem to en- counter various obstacles in searching for them in our past. In reali- ty, the first type might be said to belong to a common domain, in the sense that they are familiar or easily accessible to others as well as ourself. The idea we most easily picture to ourself, no matter how personal and specific its elements, is the idea others have of us. The events of our life most immediate to ourself are also engraved in the memory of those groups closest to us. Hence, facts and conceptions we possess with least effort are recalled to us from a common do- main (common at least to one or several milieus). These remem- brances are “everybody’s” to this extent. We can recall them when- ever we want just because we can base ourself on the memory of others. The second type, which cannot be recalled at will, are read- ily acknowledged to be available only to ourself because only we Individual Memory and Collective Memory > 47 could have known about them. So we apparently end up in this strange paradox. The remembrances we evoke with most difficulty are our concern alone and constitute our most exclusivepossession. They seem to escape the purview of others only at the expense of es- V caping ourself also. ‘It is as if a person locked his treasure in a safe with a lock so complicated that he could not open it; he does not re- member the combination and must rely on chance to remind him of it. But there is an explanation at once simpler and more natural. The difference between remembrances we evoke at will and re- membrances we seem to command no longer is merely a matter of degree of compléxity. The former are always at hand because they are preserved in groups that we enter at will and collective thoughts to which we remain closely related. The elements of these remem- brances and their relationships are all familiar to us. The. latter are - less accessible because the groups that carry them are more remote and intermittent in contact with us. Groups that associate frequent- ly enable us to be in them simultaneously, whereas others have so little contact that we haVe neither intention nor occasion to trace their faded paths of communication. Now it is along such routes, along such sheltered pathways, that we retrieve those remem- brances that are uniquely our own. In the same way, a traveler might consider as his own a spring, an outcropping of rock, or a landscape reached only by leaving the main thoroughfare and re- joining another via a rough and infrequently .used trail. The start- ing points of such a short cut lie on the main routes and are com- mon knowledge. But close scrutiny and maybe a bit of luck are required to find them again. A person might frequently pass by ei- ther without bothering to look for them, especially if he couldn’t count upon passers-by to point them out, passers-by who travel one of these thoroughfares but have no concern to go where the other might lead. ' Let _us not hesitate to return to the examples we have discussed. We will clearly see that the “starting points,” or the elements of these personal remembrances that seem to be uniquely our own, can easily be found preserved in definite social milieus. The members of l “f” if"? 48 - The Collective Memory these groups (we ourselves have not ceased to belong) know how to find and show them to us, if we only interrogate them in the appro- priate manner. Our traveling companions did not know the rela- tives and friends we left behind. But they did observe that we never fully joined them. They sensed moments when we seemed more like a stranger. Were we to meet them later, they could recall our dis- tracted manner or reflections and cements indicating that our thoughts were elsewhere. The child who was lost in the woods, or who confronted some dangerous situation that aroused in him feel- ings of an adult, told nothing of this to his parents. But they ob- served that afterward he was not so careless as he used to be (as if a shadow had been cast over him), and that on seeing them he dis- played a joy no longer so childlike. The inhabitants of the town to which I moved did not know where I came from, but before I had become used to my new surroundings, my astonishment, curiosity, and ignorance had undoubtedly been noticed by some of the towns-— people. These scarcely noticeable traces of events having little im- port for this new milieu probably attracted attention only fora short while. Nevertheless, were I to relate the events responsible for these traces, some would still remember those traces or at least .know where to look. While the collective memory endures and draws strength from its base in a coherent body of people, it is individuals as group mem- bers who remember. While these remembrances are mutually sup- portive of each other and common to all, individual members still vary in the intensity with which they experience them. I would readily acknowledge that each memory is a viewpointon the’collec- tive memory, that this viewpoint changes as my position changes, that this position itself changes as my relationships to other milieus change. Therefore, it is not surprising that everyone does not draw on the same part of this common instrument. In accounting for that ' diversity, however, it is always necessary to revert to a combination of influences that are social in nature. I Certain of these combinations are extremely complex. Hence their appearance is not under our control. In a sense, we must trust to chance. We must wait for the various systems of waves (in those Individual Memory and Collective Memory 49 social milieus where We move mentally or physically) to intersect again and cause that registering apparatus which is our individual consciousness to vibrate the same way it did in the past. But the type of causality is the same and could not be different from what it was then. The succession of our remembrances, of even our most personal ones, is always explained by changes occurring in our rela- tionships to various collective milieus—in short, by the transforma- tions these milieus undergo separately and as a whole. Some may say how strange it is that our most personal remem- brances, offering such a striking character of absolute unity, actual- ly derive from a fusion of diverse and separate elements. First of all, reflection shows this unity to dissolve rapidly into a multiplicity. It has been claimed that one recovers, when plumbing the depths of a truly personal conscious state, the whole content of mind as seen from a certain viewpoint. But “content of mind” must be under- stood as all the elements that mark its relationships to various mi- lieus. A personal state thus reveals the complexity of the combina- tionthat was its source. Its apparent unity is explained by a quite natural type of illusion. Philosophers have shown that the feeling of liberty may be explained by the multiplicity of causal series that combine to produce an action. We conceive each influence as being opposed by some-other and thus believe we act independently of each influence since we do not act under the exclusive power of any one. We do not perceive that our act really results from their action in concert, that our act is always governed by the law of causality. Similarly, since the remembrance reappears, owing to the inter- weaving of several series of collective thoughts, and since we cannot attribute it to any single one, we imagine it independent and con- trast its unity to their multiplicity. We might as well assume that a heavy object, suspended in air by means of a number of very thin and interlaced wires, actually rests in the void where it holds itself up. _.-____ Vim—WW- 2. Historical Memory and - Autobiographical Memory and Historical Memory: Their Apparent Opposition We are not accustomed to speaking, even metaphorically, of a “group memory.” Such a faculty, it would seem, could exist and en- dure only insofar as it was bound to a person’s body and brain. However, suppose that remembrances are organized in two ways, either grouped about a definite individual who considers them from his own viewpoint or distributed within a group for which each is a partial image. Then there is an “individual memory” and a “collec- tive memory.” In other words, the individual participates in two types of memory, but adopts a quite different, even contrary, atti- tude as he participates in the one or the other. On the one hand, he places his own remembrances within the framework of his person- ality, his own personal life; he considers those of his own that he holds in common with other people only in the aspect that interests him by virtue of distinguishing him from others. On the other hand, he is able to act merely as a group member, helping to evoke and maintain impersonal remembrances of interest to the group. These two memories are often intermingled. In particular, the individual memory, in order to corroborate and make precise and even to cover 50 Historical Memory and Collective Memory 51 the~ gaps in its remembrances, relies upon, relocates itself within, momentarily merges with, the collective memory. Nonetheless, it still goes its own way, gradually assimilating any acquired deposits. The collective memory, for its part, encompasses the individual memories while remaining distinct from them. It evolves according , to its own laws, and any individual remembrances that may pene- trate are transformed within a totality having no personal con- sciousness. Let us .now examine the individual memory. It is not completely sealed off and isolated. A man muSt often appeal to others’ remem- brances to evoke his own past. He goes back to reference points de- termined by society, hence outside himself. Moreover, the individu- al memory could not function without words and ideas, instruments the individual has not himself invented but appropriated from his milieu. Nevertheless, it is true that one remembers only what he himself has seen, done, felt, and thought at some time. That is, our own memory is never confused with anyone else’s. Both the individ- ual memory and the collective memory have rather limited, but dif- fering, spatial and temporal boundaries. Those of the collective memory may be either more compressed or more extended. During my life, my natidnal society has been theater for a num- ber of events that, I say "I “remember,” events that I know about only from newspapers or the testimony of those directly involved. These events occupy a place in the memory of the nation, but I my- self did not witness them. In recalling them, I must rely entirely upon the memory of others, a memory that comes, not as corrobora- tor or completer of my own, but as the very source of what-I wish to repeat. I often know such events no better nor in any other manner than I know historical events that occurred before I was born. I car- ry a baggage load of historical remembrances that I can increase through conversation and reading. But it remains a borrowed mem- ory, not my own. These events have deeply influenced national thought, not only because they have altered institutions but also be- cause their tradition endures, very much alive, in region, province, political party, occupation, class, even certain families .or persons who experienced them firsthand. For me they are conceptions, sym- a 52 The Collective Memory bols. I picture them pretty much as others do. I can imagine them, but I cannot remember them. I belong to a group with a part of my personality, so that everything that has occurred within it as long as I belonged—even everything that interested and transformed it be- fore I entered—is in some sense familiar to me. But should I wish to restore the remembrance of a certain event in its entirety, I would have to bring together all the partial and distorted reproductions concerning it that are held by all group members. By contrast, my personal remembrances are wholly mine, wholly in me. Therefore, 'there is reason to distinguish two sorts of memory. They might be labeled, if one prefers, internal or inward memory and external memory, or personal memory and social memory. I would consider more accurate “autobiographical memory” and “historical memory.” The former would make use of the latter, since our life history‘belongs, after all, to general history. Natural- ly, historical memory would cover a much broader expanse of time. However, it would represent the past only in a condensed and sche- matic way, while the memory of our own life would present a richer portrait with greater continuity. If our personal memory is understood to be something that we know only from within, while the collective memory would be known only from without, then the two will surely contrast sharply. I remember Reims because I lived there a whole year. But I also re- member that Joan of Arc consecrated Charles VII there, because I . have heard it said or read it. The story of Joan of Arc has been pre- sented so often on the stage, on the movie screen, or elsewhere that I truly have no difficulty imagining Joan of Arc at Reims. Mean- while, I certainly know that I was not a witness to the event itself, that I cannot go beyond these words heard or read by me, that these symbols passed down through time are all that comes to me from that past. The same is true for every historical fact I know. Proper names, dates, formulas summarizing a long sequence of details, oc- casional anecdotes or quotations, are the epitaphs to those bygone events, as brief, general, and scant of meaning as most tombstone inscriptions. History indeed resembles a crowded cemetery, where room must constantly be made for new tombstones. Historical Memory and Collective Memory 53 Were the past social milieu to live for us only in these historical , notations, and, more generally speaking, were the collective mem- ory composed only of dates, arbitrary definitions, and reminders of events, then it would most assuredly remain external to us. Many citizens of our vast national societies never participate in the com- mon interests of the majority, who read the newspaper and pay some attention to public affairs. Even we who do not so isolate our- selves may periodically become so absorbed that we no longer fol- low “current events.” ‘Later on, we may find ourselves reassembling around such a period in our life the public events of that time. For example, what happened in France and the world in 1877, the year I was born? It was the year of the “16th of May,” when the volatile political situation truly, gave birth to the Third Republic. DeBroglie was in power, and Gambetta declared that “he must resign or be forcibly removed.” The painter Courbet died. Victor Hugo pub- lished the second volume of Legende des Siécles. The Boulevard Saint-Germain was completed in Paris, and construction began on the Avenue de la République. The attention of all Europe focused on Russia’s war against Turkey. Osman Pasha was forced to sur- render Plevna after a long and heroic defense. I thus reconstitute a rather spacious framework, in which I feel myself quite lost. I am doubtless caught up in the current of national life, but I hardly feel involved. I am like a passenger on a boat. As the riverbanks pass by, _ everything he sees is neatly fitted into the total landscape. But sup- pose he 10ses himself in thought or is distracted by his traveling companions; he concerns himself only occasionally with what passes along the banks. Later on, he will be able to remember where he has traveled but few details of the landscape, and he will be able to trace his route on a map. Such a traveler may recover some forgot- ten memories or make others more precise, but he has not really had contact with the country through which he passed. Certain psychologists apparently prefer to imagine historical events as auxiliary to our memory, functioning much as do the tem- poral partitions of a watch or calendar. Our life flows by in a con- tinuous movement. But when we look back at what has unrolled, we always find it possible to assign its various portions tothe de- u.--‘__.fi I,___.~r-j 54 The Collective Memory marcations of collective time. Such temporal divisions are imposed from outside upon every individual memory precisely because their 'source is not in any single one of them. A social time defined in this way would truly be external to the lived duration of each conscious- ness. We see this clearly in the case of a watch measuring astro- nomical time. But the same is also true of those dates on the clock- face of history: they correspond to the most noteworthy events of national life, the .occurrence of which we may be unaware of, the importance of which we recognize only later. Our lives thus sit on the surface of social bodies, merely observing their alterations and putting up with their disturbances. An event takes its place in the sequence of historical facts only some time after its occurrence. Thus we can link the various phases of our life to national events only after the fact. Nothing demonstrates better how artificial and external is that operation that consists of referring to demarcations of collective life for mental landmarks. Nothing demonstrates more clearly that we really study distinct objects when we focus on either individual memory or collective memory. The events and dates con- stituting the very substance of group life can be for the individual only so many external signs, which he can use as reference points only by going outside himself. Of course, the collective memory would play a Very secondary role in the fixation of our remembrances if it had no other content than such sequences of dates or lists of facts. But such a conception is remarkably narrow and does not correspond to reality. For that very reason I have had difficulty presenting it in this way. How- ever, such an approach was necessary, for this conception accords with a widely accepted doctrine. The memory is usually considered as a properly individual faculty—that is, as appearing in a con- sciousness reduced solely to its own resources, isolated from anyone else and capable of evoking by will or chance states previously ex- perienced. NevertheleSS, since it is impossible to deny that we often replace our remembrances within a space and time whose demarca- tions we share with others, or that we also situate them within dates that have meaning only in relation to a group to which we belong, these facts are acknowledged to be the case. But it is a sort of mini- Historical Memory and Collective Memory 55.» mal concession that does not impair, in the minds of those granting it, the specificity of the individual memory. The Real Interpenetration of Historical and Autobiographical Memory (Contemporary History) As Stendhal observed: Now as I write my life in 1835, I make many discoveries. . . . They are like great fragments of fresco on a wall, which, long forgotten, reappear suddenly, and by the side of these well-preserved frag- ments there are . . . great gaps where there’s nothing to be seen but the bricks of the wall. The plaster on which the fresco had been painted hasfallen and the fresco has gone forever. There are no dates besides the pieces of fresco that remain, and now in 1835, I have to hunt for the dates. Fortunately there’s no harm in an anach- ronism, a confusion of a year or two. After my arrival in Paris in 1799, my life became involved with public events and all dates are certain. . . . In 1835, I discover the shape and the “why” of past events.1 Such dates and the historical and national events they represent (for this is surely the sense in which Stendahl understands them) , can be totally external, at least in appearance, to the circumstances of our life. But later on, as we reflect upon them, we “make many discoveries”; we “discover the shape and the ‘why’ of events.” This might be understood in various ways. When I page through a con-I temporary history and review the sequence of events in France or Europe since my birth, during the first eight or ten years of my life, I-indeed get the impression of an external framework of which I was then unaware and I learn to relocate my childhood within the history of my times. Even though I clarify from outside this first pe- riod of my life, however, my memory scarcely grows richer in its personal aspect. I gain no revelations of my childhood; nothing new 1 Stendhal, Vie d’Henri Brulard, ed. Henri Martineau (Paris: Le Divan I, 1949), p. 151. ' __.....a .. 4—-——- 56 The Collective Memory emerges. I did nOt yet read newspapers or participate in adult con- versation. At present I can formulate an'idea, necessarily arbitrary, of the national affairs that were of lasting interest to my parents, but I have no direct remembrances of these events or my parents’ ' reactions to" them. It seems clear to me that the first national event that penetrated the fabric of my childhood impressions was the fu- neral of Victor Hugo. (I was then eight years old.) I see myself at my father’s side, walking towards the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile where the catafalque had been erected; I see myself the next day watching the funeral parade from a balcony at the corner of the Rue Soufllot and the Rue Gay-Lussac. Had nothing, then, of my encompassing national group filtered down to me and my narrow circle of concerns until this time? Yet I was always with my parents. They were exposed to many influ- ences. They were, in part, the people they were because they lived through that period, in a certain country under certain national and political circumstances. Perhaps I can find no trace of definite “his- torical” events in their. overt habits, in the general tone of their feel- ings. But there certainly existed in France during the ten-, fifteen-, or twenty-year period following the F ranco-Prussian War of 1870— 1871 a remarkable psychological and social atmosphere unique to this time. My parents belonged to this period; they acquired certain habits and characteristics that became part of their personality and made an early impression upon me. What is at issue here is no longer mere dates or facts. Of course, even contemporary history too often boils down to a series of overly abstract conceptions. But I can fill in these conceptions, substituting images and impressions for these ideas, when I look over the paintings, portraits, and engrav- ings of the time or think about the books that appeared, the plays presented, the style of the period, the jokes and humor in vogue. I don’t fancy that this picture of a world so recently vanished and now re-created by artificial means will become the slightly con- trived background on which to project profiles of my parents—a sort of solution in which I immerse my own past in order to “devel- op” it, as one might a film. On the contrary, the world of my child- hood, as I recover it from memory, fits so naturally into the frame- Historical Memory and Collective Memory 57 work of recent history reconstituted by formal study because it already bears the stamp of that history. What I discover is that by attentive effort I can recover, in my remembrances of my little world, a semblance of the surrounding social milieu. Many scat- tered details, perhaps too familiar for me to have ever considered connecting them and inquiring into their meaning, now stand out and come together. I learn to distinguish, in the character of my parents and the period, what can be accounted for not by human nature or circumstances common to other periods but only by the peculiarities of the national milieu at that time. My parents—in- deed their friends and every adult I met then—were (like all of us) a product of their times. When I want to. picture that period’s life and thought, I direct my reflections toward them. This is what makes contemporary history interest me in a way the history of pre- ceding periods cannot. Of course, I cannot claim to remember the particulars of these events, since I am familiar with them only through reading. But, in contrast to other periods, the time contem- porary with my childhood lives in my memory because I was im- mersed within it and one facet of my remembrances is but a reflec— tion of it. Even when considering childhood remembrances, then, we are better off not to distinguish a personal memory that would repro- duce past impressions just as they originally were and Would never take us beyond the restricted circle of our family, school, and“ friends, from a “historical” memory that would be composed only of national events unfamiliar to us as children. We had best avoid this distinction between one memory that puts us in touch with only ourself (or with a self, really, broadened to include the group en- compassing the worldgof the child) and another memory that en- ables us to penetrate into a milieu of which we were unaware at the time but within which our life actually unfolded. Our memory truly rests not on learned history but on lived history. By the term “histo- ry” we must understand, then, not a chronological sequence of events and dates, but whatever distinguishes one period from all others, something of which books and narratives generally give us only a very schematic and incomplete picture. ._(.. . _..._‘ ... 62 The Collective Memory and my own parents come out on the balcony to look at them. Bitten by rabid wolves, these inhabitants of Siberia settled in Paris near the Rue d’Ulm and the Ecole Normale to receive treatment from Pasteur. For the first time I heard that name and pictured to myself the existence of scientists who make discoveries. I have no idea how much I understood of such matters. Perhaps I fully understood it only later. But I do not believe that this remembrance would have remained so clear in my .mind had not this image oriented my thought to new horizons, toward unknown regions from which I felt gradually less distant. Such disturbances of a social milieu, which cause the child to suddenly get a glimpse of the political and national life beyond his own‘narrow circle, are infrequent. When he finally joins serious adult conversation or reads the newspapers, the child will feel him- self discovering an unknown land. But this will not be the first time that he has come in contact with a social milieu more extensive than his family or his small circle of playmates and parents’ friends. Par- ents and children each have their own interests. The boundaries separating these two zones of thought are, for many reasons, not surmounted. But the child does come in contact with a class of adults whoselevel of thought approximates his own—servants, for example. The child readily converses with them, taking revenge against the silence and reserve to which his parents condemn him in matters that he is _“too young” to know about. Servants may talk freely to and with the child, who understands because they often _ communicate in a childlike manner. Almost all that I learned and could understand of the Franco-Prussian War, Paris Commune, Second Empire, and Third Republic came from a good old woman, full of superstition and prejudice, who blindly accepted the picture of events and regimes painted by popular imagination. She in- formed me of the vague rumors that like the backwash of history, spread among the peasants, workers, and common people. My par- ents could only shake their heads in disbelief at hearing such tales. In those moments I gained an understanding, however confused, of the human milieus disturbed by these events, if not of the events themselves. Even today my‘ memory evokes that first historical Historical Memory and Collective Memory 63 . framework of childhood along with my earliest impressions. In any case, this was the way I first pictured events just before my birth. If I now recognize how inaccurate these stories really were,I can only affirm that I took a sympathetic interest in those troubled waters and that more than one of those confused images still managed to enframe, even as it deformed, some of my remembrances from that time. ~ The Living Bond of Generations The child is provided access to an even more distant past by his grandparents. Perhaps grandparents and grandchildren become close because both are, for different reasons, uninterested in the contemporary events that engross the parents. As Marc Bloch says: In rural societies, the young are quite frequently left entrusted dur- ing the day to the care of the “old.” The father is occupied in the field and the mother is preoccupied with the many household tasks. The child receives as much, and even more, of the legacy of various customs and traditions from them as from his parents.‘ ' The grandparents and the elderly are clearly products of their own times. The child doesn’t immediately perceive and distinguish those characteristics in his grandfather due solely to age from those stamped on him by that society, now extinct, in which he lived and grew ‘up. The child, on arriving in the city, neighborhood, and home of his grandfather, vaguely senses that he is entering a differ- ent territory. It is not foreign, to him, however, for it agrees very well with the character of the oldest members of his family. He is aware that, for his grandparents, he somewhat replaces his parents, who should have remained children and not become totally involved in contemporary life and society. Their stories, oblivious of the times and linking the past and future together across the present, could not help but intrigue him, just as stories about himself might. ‘ Marc Bloch, “Mémoire collective, traditions et coutumes,” Revue de synthése histor- ique, Nos. 118—120 (1925), p. 79. - 64 The Collective Memory What becomes fixed in his memory are not just facts, but attitudes and ways of thinking frOm the past. We may regret having not tak- en fuller advantage of this unique opportunity to gain direct contact with a period that we would otherwise have known only from out- side, through history books, paintings, and literature. Be that as it 'may, the personage of an aged relative seems to grow in our mem- ory as we are told of a past time and society; instead of remaining a shadowy figure, he then emerges with all the clarity and color of a person who is the center of a portrait and who sums up and epito- 7 mizes it. Of all his family, why did Stendhal happen to remember his grandfather so clearly and to sketch his portrait so vividly? Didn’t Stendhal see him as personifying the end of the eighteenth century? The grandfather had known some of the philosopher and had helped him to truly comprehend that pre-Revolutionary society for which Stendhal never lost his fondness. If Stendhal had not linked in his earliest thoughts the person of that old man with the works of Diderot, Voltaire, and d’Alembert and a whole body of interests and feelings transcending the restricted and conservative boundaries of a small province, then the grandfather would have never been, for Stendhal, the esteemed and oft quoted relative that he was. Per- haps he would have been remembered with equal accuracy, but he certainly would not have occupied so important a place in the writ- er’s memory. It is that “lived” eighteenth century sufiusing his thought that restores to Stendhal the in-depth likeness of his grand- father. Collective frameworks of memory do not amount to so many names, dates, and formulas, but truly represe’nt currents of thought and experience within which we recover our past only because we have lived it. History is neither the whole nor even all that remains of the past. In addition to written history, there is a living history that perpet- uates and renews itself through time and permits the recovery of many old currents that have seemingly disappeared. If this were not so, what right would we have to speak of a “collective memory”? What service could possibly be rendered 'by frameworks that have endured only as so many desiccated and impersonal historical con- ‘Historical Memory and Collective Memory 65 ceptions? Groups that develop the reigning conceptions and mental- ity of a society during a certain period fade away in time, making room for others, who in turn command the sway of custom and fashion opinion from new models. The world we shared so deeply with our grandparents may have suddenly vanished. We may have very few extrafamilial remembrances of that intermediate period between the older world before our birth and the contemporary na- tional period that so engrosses us. It is as if, during an intermission, the old people’s world faded away and the stage were filled with new characters. Nonetheless, let us see if we cannot find a milieu, a state of past thought and sensibility, that has left all the traces nec- essary for its provisional recreation. > Many times I have thought that I perceived, in thatgroup com- posed of my grandparents and myself, the last reverberations of ro- manticism. By “romanticism” I mean a particular type of sensibi- lity, not identical with that of the figures included in the late- eighteenth-century artistic and literary movement so named, though no longer clearly distinguished from it either. Though somewhat dissipated in the frivolities of the Second Empire, it held on tena- ciously in the more remote provinces (and it is there, indeed, that I have rediscovered its last vestiges). It is quite legitimate to try to re- construct this milieu, to reconstitute that atmosphere about our- selves through books, engravings, and paintings. Our primary con- Cern is not with the great poets and their work. In fact, their writings affect us in ways quite different from those in which they affected contemporaries. We have made many discoveries about them. Rather, this mentality, which permeated everything and . showed itself in multifarious ways, is locked up as it were in the magazines and “family literature” of the time. As we page through such publications, we seem to see the old folks once again, with the gestures, expressions, poses, and dress of period engravings; we seem to hear their voices and recognize the very expressions they used. Of course, these “family museums” and popular magazines are accidental leftovers to which we might never have had access. ‘ Nonetheless, if I do reopen these books, or if I do rediscover these engravings, pictures, 'and portraits, I am not driven by scholarly 66 The Collective Memory curiosity and love of what is old to consult them in a library or view them in a museum. I discover them in my own home, in my parents’ and friends’ homes, on the wharves, and in the windows of antique shops. In addition to_ engravings and books, the past has left many other traces, occasionally visible, in present-day society. We see it in peo- ple’s appearance, the look of a place, and even in the unconscious ways of thinking and feeling preserved by certain persons and mi- lieus. Ordinarily we don’t notice such things. But we need alter our attention only slightly to see the outcroppings of the older strata un- derlying modern customs. We may have to go some distance to discover those islands of the past so genuine in their preservation as to make us feel as though we have suddenly been carried back fifty or sixty years. One day in Vienna, I was invited to visit the family of a banker. In their home I had the feeling of being in a French salon of the 18305. It was not ' so much the furniture or décor as the quite singular social atmo- sphere—an intangible something of the conventional and formal, like a glimmer from the ancien régime. On another occasion, I ar- rived in a part of Algeria where the Europeans lived some distance from each other. Forced to travel by stagecOach, I observed with curiosity men and women who seemed familiar, who resembled the people on engravings from the Second Empire. I conjectured that the French citizens who had come to settle this remote and isolated area after the conquest, and their descendants, had to live on ‘a fund of ideas and customs dating from that period. In any case, each of these images (whether real or imaginary) became connected in my mind with remembrances from similar milieus, in the one case, of an aged aunt sitting in such a salon and, in the other case, of a re- tired officer who had lived in Algeria during colonization. We can easily make similar observations without ever leaving France, Paris, or even our home town. Our urban areas have been transformed in the last fifty years. But there is more than one district in Paris, more than one street or block of homes, that contrasts sharply to the rest of the city and preserves its original appearance. Moreover, the residents resemble the locale. Indeed, in every period there is an in- Historical Memory and Collective Memory 67 timate relationship between the habits and mentality of a group and 3 the appearance of its residential areas. There was a Paris of 1860, with an image closely bound to the society and customs of its time. To evoke it we must do more than search out the plaques com- memorating the homes where its famous personages lived and died or read a history of the city. An observer will note many features of the past in the city and people of today, especially in those areas that have become havens for the crafts and, during certain holidays, in the small shop and working class areaS-of Paris (which have changed less than the rest of the city). But the Paris of bygone days is perhaps best recognized in the very small provincial cities. Here 7 the types of people, even the dress and speech patterns, once en- countered on Rue Saint-Honoré and the great promenades of Bal- zac’s Paris have not yet disappeared. Our grandparents leave their stamp on our parents. We were not» aware of it in the past because we were much more sensitive then to what distinguished generations. Our parents marched in front of us and guided us into the future. The moment comes whén they stop and we pass them by. Then we must turn back to see them, and now they seem in the grip of the past and woven into the shadows of bygone times. In a few deeply moving pages l\/Iarcel Proust de- scribes how, in the weeks following his grandmother’s death, his mother suddenly seemed to him_ to become identified with the de- ceased’s traits, expression, and overall appearance. She acquired the image of the grandmother, as if the same type of person were repro- duced in two successive generations. Is this merely a physiological change? If we recognize our grandparents in our parents, is it be- cause our parents are growing old and quickly fill the empty places in the sequence of generations? Rather, it may be because our at- tention has changed focus. Our parents and grandparents represent for us two distinct and clearly separated periods. We do not per- ceive that our grandparents were more closely associated with the present, our parents with the past, than we imagined. I became aware of the world about a decade after the Franco: Prussian War (1870). The Second Empire was a distant period cor- responding to a society almost extinct. Now twelve to fifteen years 68 The Collective Memory V separate me from the Great War. I suppose that, for my children, the pre-1914 society of which they know nothing recedes similarly into a past not reached by their memory. But, for me, thereis no break in continuity between these two periods. I see the same soci- ety, doubtless changed by new experiences, relieved of older preju- dices and concerns, enriched with novel elements, but still the same. Of course, there is a larger or smaller portion of illusion in my views as well as in my children’s. A time will come when, looking about me, I will recognize only very few who lived and thought as I did before the War. A time will come when I will understand, as I have sometimes uneasily, that new generations have pushed ahead of my own, that a society whose aspirations and customs are quite foreign to me has taken the place of the one to which I was most in- timately attached. And my children, having changed point of view, _ will be astonished to suddenly discover. that I am so distant from them and so close to my parents in interests, ideas, memories. They and I will then be, doubtless, under the influence of a converse illu- sion: I am really not so distant from them because my parents were not really so distant from me. Depending on age and also circum- stance, however, we are especially struck either by the differences between generations, as each retires into its own shell and grows distant from the other, or by the similarities, as they come together again and become as one. Reconstructed Remembrances To a much greater extent than is commonly believed, therefore, the . life of the child is immersed in social milieus through which he comes in touch with a past stretching back some distance. The latter acts like a framework into which are woven his most personal re- membrances. This is what I have endeavored to show in the pre- vious analysis. Later on, his memory will ground itself on this lived past, much more than on any past learned from written history. Al- though at first he may not distinguish this framework from the con- scious states placed within it, heigradually effects a separation be- Historical Memory and Collective Memory 69 tween his little inner world and the surrounding society. Since both sorts of elements were intertwined from the beginning and seemed to comprise part of his childhood'self, the most that can be said is that every element answering to the social milieu may later come forth as an abstract and artificial framework. In this sense lived his- tory is clearly differentiated from written history: it possesses every- thing needed to constitute a living and natural framework upon which our thought can base itself to preserve and recover the image of its past. But I must now pursue this further. As the child grows, and es- pecially as he becomes an adult, he participates (at first unawares) in a more distinctive and reflective way in the life and thoughts of . the groups to which he belongs. How could he help changing this idea of his past? How could his newly acquired conceptions—con- ceptions of facts, reflections and ideas—help reacting on his remem- brances? As I have said many times, a remembrance is in very large measure a reconstruction of the past achieved with data borrowed from the present, a reconstruction prepared, furthermore, by recon- structions of earlier periods wherein past images had already been altered. Of course, if we presume memory to be a resumption of di- _ rect contact with certain past impressions, then a remembrance would, by definition, be distinguished from these ideas of varying precision whereby our reflections, assisted by others’ stories, admis- sions, and evidence, make a determination of what our past must have been. Even were it possible to evoke directly a few remem- brances, we could not distinguish such cases from those in which we imagine what happened. Hence we can consider remembrances as so many representations resting, at least in part, on testimony and reasoning. But the social or, if_ you prefer, “historical” facet of our memory of our own past is then much more extensive than we think. Having been in contact with adults since childhood, we have acquired quite a few means of retrieving and making precise our many remembrances that otherwise would have been partially or totally forgotten. At this point we are faced with a previously noted objection that merits further examination. Can we restore-entirely a remembrance . ._.__‘ . .— 70 The Collective Memory ' of an event that did occur, but of which we have kept no impres- sions, merely by reconstructing a historical conception of it? For iné stance, I know with certainty, from reflection and from what I have been told, that there was a day when I attended the lycée for the first time. Nonetheless, I have no personal and direct remembrance of that event. My remembrances have become confused because of my having spent so many days there. Perhaps due to the excitement of the first day, “I have not memory of periods or moments whenI felt too strongly,” as Stendhal says in his autobiographical Life of Henri Brulard. Having restored the historical framework of that event, does it suffice for me to say that I have recreated a remem- brance of it? Of course, had I absolutely no remembrance of that event, had I to rely totally on a historical conception of it, then it could be con- cluded that an empty framework can never fill itself out all alone. It would be abstract knowledge at work, and not the memory. But, without actually remembering a given day, one can recall a certain period. Nor is it quite accurate to say that the remembrance of a pe- riod is simply the sum of the remembrances from each day. As events grow distant, we have a habit of recalling them in organized sets. Although certain. remembrances may stand out clearly, many kinds of elements are included and we can neither enumerate each nor distinguish them from one another. Having successively attend- ed primary schools, private boarding schools, and lycéex, and being each year in a new class, I have a general remembrance of all these opening days of class that includes that particular day I first entered a lycée. Therefore I cannot say that I remember that specific return to school, but neither can I say that I no longer remember it. More- over, a historical conception of my entrance into the lycée is not ab- stract. First of all, I have since read a number of factual and fiction- al accounts describing impressions of a child who is entering a class for the first time. It may very well be that, when I read them, the personal remembrance that I had kept of similar impressions be- came intertwined with the book’s description. I can recall these nar- ratives. Perhaps in time I have preserved and can retrieve, without being certain as to what is what, my own transposed impressions. Historical Memory and Collective Memory 71 ‘ Whatever it may be, an idea thus “filled out” is'no longer a mere schema without content. Let me add that I know and can retrieve a good deal more of that first lycée I attended than merely the school’s name or map location. I was there each day during that time and have since returned several times. Even had I not visited it again as an adult, I am acquainted with lycées that my children have attend- ed. I recall many features of that family milieu that I left on going to class, not because I remained in contact with a; family in general but because I remained in touch with my family, a living and con- crete group entering quite naturally into the picture I' recreate of my first day of class. What objection can be raised, therefore, to the fact that I manage to recreate the general atmosphere and character of my first day of class by reflecting on what it must have been like? It is doubtless an incomplete and wavering image and certainly a reconstructed one. But how many of the remembrances that we be- lieve genuine, with an identity beyond doubt, are almost entirely forged from false recognitions, in accordance with others’ testimony - and stories! A framework cannot produce of itself a precise and pic- turesque remembrance. But, in this case, the framework has been buoyed up with personal reflection and family remembrances: the remembrance is an image entangled among other images, a generic image taken back into the past. Shrouded Remembrances If I want .to reassemble and make precise remembrances that would enable me to restore the look and character of my father as I knew him, I would likewise say that it would be quite useless to review the historical events of the period in which he lived. Nevertheless, if I meet an old acquaintance of his who gives me details and circum- stances of his life of which I was unaware, or if my mother enlarges upon and fills in the picture of his life, clarifying portions that were obscure to me, do.I not now have an impression of descending back into the past and augmenting a whole body of remembrances? We are not dealing in this case with a simple retrospective illusion. It is 72’ The Collective Memory not as though I had rediscovered a letter of his that I read when he was alive, and that these new remembrances, owing to recent im- pressions, become juxtaposed to the original remembrances without becoming confused with them. Rather, the remembrance of my fa- ther as a whole is transformed and now seems to me to conform more to reality. The image I have of my father continuously evolved over time, not only because my remembrances of him while he lived accumulated but also because I myself changed and my perspective altered as I occupied different positions in my family and, more im- portant, in other milieus. Nevertheless, Will it be said that there is one image of my father that must take precedence over every oth- er—namely, the image of him that was fixed at death? But how Imany times had it already been transformed before this moment? Besides, death may end physiological life, but it does not abruptly halt the current of thoughts unfolding in the social circles of the ' person whose body has been buried. For some time after, he will be considered as still alive and remain a part of daily life, as we imag- ine what he would have said or done in various situations. It is on the day after death that those closest to him focus most intensely on his person. At this time also, his image is least fixed and is contin- ually transformed depending on the part of his life evoked. In reali- ty, the image of a departed one is never frozen. As it recedes into the past, the image changes as certain features are effaced and others accentuated according to the perspective from which he is viewed— that is, depending on the new conditions in which we turn our at- tention upon him. I am inclined to retouch his portrait as I learn new things about my father from those variously connected with him, as I pass new judgment on the period in which he lived, and as I become more capable of reflection and possessed of more terms for comparison. Thus the past as I once knew it is slowly defaced. New images overlay the old—just as relatives closer in time are inter- posed between ourselves and our more distant ancestors—so that we know of the former only what the latter tell us. The groups to which I belong vary at different periods of my life. But it is from their viewpoint that I consider the past. As I become more involved in each of these groups and participate more intimately in its mem- Historical Memory and Collective Memory 73 cry, I necessarily renovate and supplement my remembrances.- Of course, all this presupposes two conditions. First, my remem- brances, before I entered these groups, were not fully clarified in all aspects; until now,.so to speak, I did not fully perceive or under- stand them. Second, remembrances 'of these groups must have some connecfion with the events constituting my own past. The first condition is satisfied by the fact that many of our re- membrances date back to times when immaturity, inexperience, and inattention obscured the meaning of various facts or hid the nature of different persons or objects. We remained, as it were, overly con- cerned with the children’s group even as we had become partially and loosely attached to the adult group. The result was a sort of Chiaroscuro effect in the mind. What interested adults fascinated us also, only because we felt the adults were interested; and it re- mained in our memory as so many puzzles or problems that we did not yet understand but felt we could eventually solve. We may not even have noticed these unsettled aspects and zones of obscurity, but we did not forget them either, for they both surrounded and helped us to pass among our clearer remembrances. When a child falls asleep in his own bed only to awake aboard a train, he finds securi- ty in feeling that he remains under the watchful care of his parents in either place, even though he cannot understand how or why they have done what they have when he was asleep. There are many de- grees of such ignorance. In one sense or another, we neither attain total clarity nor remain totally in the dark. We may be able to picture some episode from our past not need- ing addition, correction, or further clarification. But then we may meet someone else who witnessed or participated in that event. As he recalls and recounts it, we become less certain that we are not mistaken on the sequence of occurrences, relative importance of varj - ious aspects, or the general meaning of the event. For it is well-nigh impossible for two persons who have seen the same event to describe it in exactly the same way when recounting it later on. Let us turn once more to the life of Henri Brulard. Stendhalre- counts that he and two friends, as children, shot a pistol at the Tree of Fraternity. The story is a succession of uncomplicated scenes. 74 - The Collective Memory But his friend, R. Colomb, continually pointed out factual errors as he annotated the manuscript.5 The soldiers were almost touching us and we took refuge in the doorway of my grandfather’s house, but we could be seen very easi- ly; everybody was at the windows. Many had brought candles and the light shone out. i (But Colomb writes: “Error. All this occurred four minutes after the shot. By that time, all three of us were in the house”) Stendhal then continues his narrative, recounting how he and one other, perhaps Colomb, had climbed the stairs and taken refuge in the home of two “deeply devout old milliners.” The police came. These Jansenist old maids lied, saying that the boys. had spent the whole evening there. (Colomb notes: “Only_H.B. [Stendhal] entered the home of the Misses Caudey. R.C. [Colomb] and Mante fled through a passage in the attic and managed to reach Main Street”) We listened carefully, and when we could no longer hear the police, we departed and continued upstairs toward the passage. (Colomb writes. “Error!”) Mante and Treillard, who were more agile than me, . . . told us the next day that when they reached the door on Main Street, they found it blocked by two guards. The boys began to comment on the charm of the young ladies with whom they had spent the evening. The guards asked them no questions and they made their escape. Their story seems so real to me that at this point I could not be certain that it was not Colomb and I who went out talking about the charm of the young ladies. (In reality, as Colomb writes, “Treillard was not with us three.” And “R.C., having a chest cold, put liquorice in his mouth so that his coughing would not attract the attention of those searching the house. . . . R.C. recalls that there existed in this attic a passageway which was connected to a service staircase leading to Main Street. Remembering this fact saved the two friends. When they got to the street, they saw two men whom they assumed were police officers 5 Vie d’Henri Brulard, pp. 365—369. .«_-Historical Memory and Collective Memory 75 and they began to calmly and innocently talk about the fun times they had just had.”) ' As I write this, the image of the Tree of Fraternity appears before my eyes. My memory is making discoveries. I think that I can see the Tree of Fraternity surrounded by a wall two feet high, faced ‘with hewn stone, and supporting an iron grill five or six feet high. (Colomb writes, “No.”) It is worthwhile to note in such an example how portions of a narrative which seemed so much clearer than others suddenly change character and become so obscure and uncertain as to allow contradictions when confronted by the remembrances of another witness. Stendhal had filled the gaps in his memory with his imagi- nation. In his story everything seemed believable, and the same light played across the whole surface. But the cracks were revealed when it was viewed from another angle. Conversely, there is no such thing as an absolute void in memory. No area of our past is so emptied of memory that every image pro- jected there will discover only pure and simple imagination or im- personal historical representation, without ever catching hold of any element of remembrance. We forget nothing, but this proposition may be understood in different ways. According to Bergson, our past in its entirety_remains in memory, and only certain obstacles, notably the behavior of the brain, prevents our evoking any and ev- ery segment. In any case, the images of past events rest fully formed in the unconscious mind like so many printed pages of books that could be opened, even though they no longer are. In my view, by contrast, what remains are not ready-made images in some subter- ranean gallery of our thought. Rather, we can find in society all the necessary information for reconstructing certain parts of our past represented in an incomplete and indefinite manner, or even consid- ered completely gone from memory. When we accidentally meet persons who have participated in these same events, co-actors or witnesses, or when we are told or otherwise discover something about such past happenings, how does it happen that we use these materials to fill in apparent gaps in 76 The Collective Memory memory? What we take for an empty space is, in reality, only a somewhat vague area that our thought avoids because so few traces remain. As soon as a precise path to our past is indicated, we see these traces emerge, we link them together, and we see them grow in depth and unity. These traces did exist, therefore, but they were more marked in others’ memory than in our own. Certainly we do the reconstructing, but we do so following guidelines laid down by our other remembrances andthe remembrances of other people. These new images are triggered by what would remain, without them, other remembrances, undefined and inexplicable though nonetheless real. Similarly, when we travel through older districts of a large city, we experience particular satisfaction in recounting the history of its streets and houses. The area provides many new ideas that, nonetheless, seem quite familiar because they agree with our impressions and fit easily into the present scene. Indeed, the scene seems by itself to evoke them, and what we imagine seems to be an elaboration of what we have just seen. The picture unfolding before us was charged with meaning, which remained obscure al- though we divined something of it. The character of persons among whom we have lived must be discovered and explained in the light of all the experiencewe gain in subsequent periods of our life. As this new picture is projected over the facts as we already know them, we see features revealed that then take their place among these facts and receive a clearer meaning. In this way memory is en- riched by hitherto alien additions that, once they have taken root and regained their place, are no longer distinguished from other re- membrances. Distant Frameworks and Nearby Milieus As I have already stated, the remembrances of these'groups must have some connection with the events constituting my past if my memory is to be strengthened and completed by the memory of oth- ers. Indeed, each of us is at once a member of several groups of varying size. Suppose we turn our attention to the larger groups—' Historical Memory and Collective Memory 77 for example, the nation. Although our life, and our parents’ and friends’ lives, are encompassed within national life, the nation' as such can’t be said to be interested in the destiny of each of its mem- bers. Let us assume that national history is a faithful résumé of the most important events that have changed the life of a nation. It dif- fers from local, state, or city histories in retaining only facts of inter- est to the citizens as a whole or, if you prefer, citizens as members of the nation. For history of this type, however detailed it may be, to help us conserve and retrieve remembrances of a definite person, he would have to be a historical personage. There are surely times when all men in a country forget their own interests, families, and smaller groups to which their outlook is ordinarily limited. There are events of national import that simultaneously alter the lives of all citizens. Rare as such events might be, they could still offer ev- eryone a few temporal landmarks. Ordinarily, however, the nation is too remote from the individual for him to consider the history of his country as anything else than a very large framework with which his own history makes contact at only a few points. In many novels tracing the destiny of an individual or a family, knowledge of the period during which the action occurs is quite unimportant, and their psychological content would not be lost if the story were set in another period. Inner life would seem to be intensified as it is isolat- ed from those historical circumstances that are paramount in the historical memory. If an author has situated his novel or play in a remote time, hasn’t this been an artifice usually intended to set aside the frameworks of contemporary events in order to give us a better feeling for how much the interplay of emotions is indepen- dent of historical events? If the historical memory is understood as the sequence of events remembered in national history, then neither it nor its frameworks represent the essence of what I call collective memory. But between individual and nation lie many other, more restrict- ed groups. Each of these has its own memory. Changes in such a group more directly affect the life and .thought of members. The lawyer remembers cases he has presented. The doctor remembers sick people he has cared for. Each recalls fellow professionals with 78 The Collective Memory whom he has had contact. As each thinks about all these people, doesn’t he go back far into his own personal life? He evokes many thoughts and concerns tied up with the person he once was, the for- tunes of his family, and various friendships, with whatever consti- tutes his personal history. Of course, all this is but one aspect of his life. However, as I have repeatedly noted, each man is immersed successively or simultaneously in several groups. Moreover, each group is confined in space and time. Each has its own original col- lective memory, keeping alive for a time important remembrances; the smaller the group, the greater the interest members have in these events. Whereas one may easily be lost in the city, village in- habitants continually observe one another. The group memory faithfully registers everything that it. can about each member, be— cause these facts react on this small society and help change it. In such milieus all persons think and remember in common. Each has his own perspective, but each is connected so closely to everyone‘else that, if his remembrances become distorted, he need only place him- self in the viewpoint of others to rectify them. \« "r The Ultimate Opposition Between Collective Memory and History The collective memory is not the same as formal history, and “his- torical memory” is a rather unfortunate expression because it con- nects two terms opposed in more than one aspect. Our preceding analysis suggests these conclusions. Undoubtedly, history is a collec- tion of the most notable facts in the memory of man. But past events read about in books and taught and learned in schools are selected, combined, and evaluated in accord with necessities and rules not imposed on the groups that had through time guarded them as a liv- ing‘trust. General history starts only when tradition ends and the social memory is fading or breaking up. So long as a remembrance continues to exist, it is useless to set it down in writing or otherwise fix it in memory. Likewise the need to write the history of a period, a soc1ety, or even a person is only aroused when the subject is al- ready too distant in the past to allow for the testimony of those who Historical jMemory and Collective Memory 79 preserve some remembrance of it. The memory of a sequence of events may no longer have the support of a group: the memory of involvement in the events or of enduring their consequences, of par- ticipating in them or receiving a firsthand account from participants and witnesses, may become scattered among various individuals, lost amid new groups for whom these facts no longer have interest because the events are definitely external to them. When this oc- curs, the only means of preserving such_ remembrances is to write them down in a coherent narrative, for the writings remain even though the thought and the spoken word die. If a memory exists only when the remembering subject, individual or group, feels that it goes back to its remembrances in a continuous movement, how could history ever be a memory, since there is a break in continuity between the society reading this history and the group in the past who acted in oriwitnessed the events? Of course, one purpose of history might just be to bridge the gap between past and present, restoring this ruptured continuity. But how can currents of collective thought whose impetus lies in the past be re-created, when we can grasp only the present? Through detailed study historians can recover and bring to light facts of vary- ing importance believed to be definitely lost, especially if they have the good fortune to discover unpublished memoirs. Nevertheless, when the Mémoires de Saint-Simon, for example, were published at the beginning of the nineteenth century, could it be said that French society of 1830 regained contact, a living and direct contact, with the end of the seventeenth century and the time of the Regen- cy? What passed frdm these memoirs into the basic histories, which have a readership sufficiently widespread to really influence collec- tive opinions? The only effect of such publications is to make us un- 4 derstand how distant we are from those who are doing the writing and being described. The barriers separating us from such a period are not overcome by scattered individuals merely devoting much time and effort to such reading. The study of history in this sense is reserved only for a few specialists. Even were there a group devoted to reading the Mémoires de Saint-Simon, it would be much too small to affect public opinion. V History wanting to keep very close to factual details must become ...
View Full Document

Page1 / 23

halbwachs%20collective%20memory-1 - :21”? W. ' we. _ . _...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 23. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online