Lewis Hyde at Harvard Book Store
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed scholar, translator, cultural critic, and writer LEWIS HYDE for a discussion of his latest book, A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past. This event is co-sponsored by Mass Humanities.
About A Primer for Forgetting
We live in a culture that prizes memory―how much we can store, the quality of what’s preserved, how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced. But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear―be it in the form of illness or simple absentmindedness―but rather as a blessing, a balm, a path to peace and rebirth?
A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship, autobiography, and social criticism by the author of the classics The Gift and Trickster Makes This World. It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern, weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a creative and political force. It also turns inward, using the author’s own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil.
Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical, A Primer for Forgetting is a unique and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced.
Praise for A Primer for Forgetting
"Slavery, civil war, genocide―will the consequences of these horrors ever end? Could forgetting be a way to reconciliation? Lewis Hyde distinguishes between kinds of forgetting―one of which may lead to forgiveness and justice. In A Primer for Forgetting, he has given us yet another invaluable work that advances humanity." ―Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace
"In A Primer for Forgetting, that bold yet gentle intellectual adventurer, Lewis Hyde, harrows the bottomless mysteries of memory and forgetting, trauma and recovery, amnesia and commemoration, reconciliation and forgiveness. If this deep, poignant, soulful, inquisitive, gently tragic and disarmingly erudite book were nine times longer, I would still have felt sad when I realized it was coming to an end." ―Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow and Bookends
"The sequence of Lewis Hyde’s brilliant cultural interventions here reaches a new height, but also a new level of intimacy and compassion. The book feels not so much written as 'unforgotten' onto the page, out of our collective desire to rescue the world." ―Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective and Motherless Brooklyn