‘Souvenirs, souvenirs': the role of memory in the work of Annie Saumont
Poole, S. E. (2012) ‘Souvenirs, souvenirs': the role of memory in the work of Annie Saumont. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 48 (1). pp. 46-58. ISSN 1471-6860
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/fmls/cqr039
The work of nouvelliste Annie Saumont constantly explores the phenomenon of memory, and of memories. This article identifies and nuances the various forms that this exploration takes. An introductory contextualization of author and theme is followed by the presentation of a short story, ‘Méandres’, which embodies the first quality of memory to be examined: its capacity not only to recall but also to re-evaluate a past which is thus shown to be as hypothetical as the future. Memory as guilt that moulds or puts its indelible stamp on lives is then evoked by means of examples from other stories, illustrating the gradations Saumont achieves in her investigation of the power of this complex faculty. The next section turns to her portrayal of involuntary memory. Unlike for Proust, the instances of spontaneous remembering that are experienced by her characters lunge at them down the years almost exclusively to wound or disorientate. Depictions of the memory which conserves, and is thus burdened by, secrets are then considered, and finally Saumont's evocation of characters who have different reasons to analyse the way their own and other people's memories work. The conclusion to be drawn is that for Saumont, we are our memories; the ability to master a ‘judicious interpretation’ of memory – or indeed, to forget – is, in her stories, overwhelmingly a quality to be envied.