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Nattens skogar och historia

In this essay I trace the historical theme in Djuna Barnes?s Nightwood, stressing the importance of the concept of forgetfulness in the text. Read alongside Nietzsche?s On the Use and Abuse of History for Life as well as his later thoughts on genealogy, the novel can be seen to concern itself with that same dilemma of history that he articulates in his philosophy. That is: how not to be overburdened by historical knowledge to the point where it petrifies life and prevents any real and novel action, and how at the same time, to make oneself conscious of ones own historicity, so as not to be governed to much by the past.I argue that Robin inhabits what Nietzsche would call the unhistorical state, whereas the other characters, in contrast, struggle with their relation to the past. Their stories delineate how history is appropriated and the other made self through the use of masks, costumes, memorabilia, nesting, storytelling and bodily inscription.


Ellen Frödin

Lärosäte och institution

Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för genus, kultur och historia


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