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Remembering and Narrating in Borges’ “Funes the Memorious” and Camus’ the Stranger

Description: In The Stranger, a novel by Albert Camus, and in “Funes the Memorious,” a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, the homodiegetic narrators have a significant effect on the referential aspect of their personal experiences. Chronologically these remembered experiences are positioned before the moment when they are narrated. The act of remembering is thus a form of subsequent narration. In both texts, memory is a project rather than an object because it is recounted and not found. In the sense that it is told, memory is necessarily a creative act and thus not faultless because the story of an experience is not the experience itself. The memories in The Stranger and in “Funes the Memorious” are not reconstituted but narrated. The peculiarity of the two texts lies in the fact that the narrators take an external position when describing their own past, emphasizing the imperfect aspect of the narrators’ memory. With a narratological approach to the texts and a Sartrean interpretation of memory, I study the effects of focalization on the act of remembering. By explaining the relationship between focalization, memory and the narratee, I show that the act of remembering is not a repetition of past events or experiences but rather an inventive process that occurs always in the present. I argue that external focalization is a more authentic way to tell the story of a past experience because it emphasizes the fact that memory is always in the process of being made and therefore uncertain and incomplete even to the individual remembering.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Stroud, Carl Eugene
Partner: UNT Libraries