[DWJ] characters losing their memories

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Jan 14 17:32:58 EST 2008

In <20080114220346.GC3579 at calcifer.dmgware.ca>, Allison wrote:
>On Sun, Jan 13, 2008 at 09:33:37PM +0200, Gili Bar-Hillel wrote:
>> "The Hounds of the Morrigan" does that awful thing of erasing the
>> participants' memories of their adventures at the end of the book. I find
>> that hard to forgive! 
>I loathe that ... it happens in the Tredana trilogy by Joyce Ballou
>Gregorian too, with particularly frustrating consequence at the end of
>the second book.  I've always thought it was really cruel to do that 
>to characters ... to have all that experience and in the end, not get
>to learn anything from it, because it's all forgotten.  What's the point
>without memory?

I agree.  It made me angry in the Susan Coopers, too.  The first time I 
met it was in Kipling's *Puck of Pook's Hill* and *Rewards and Fairies*, 
and even when I was a very small child I thought it made the whole thing 
less, somehow.  What's the point of teaching them all that stuff about 
their history if they aren't going to remember any of it?  Masefield 
ruined *The Box of Delights* with it, too, though that one had already 
got out of hand and unsuspended my disbelief well before the end.

It could be worse, even so.  It could be a narrative in which the 
first-person narrator character loses her memory, which leaves one to 
wonder *who wrote it* and how *she* knew.  I have encountered that.

'After twenty years alone in my fastness, I died.  I buried myself.  
Reader, can you say the same?'


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