ABSTRACT

For some time now critical perspectives on the war years have gravitated towards what might be referred to as a ‘memory turn’. Andreas Huyssen, typically, suggests that ‘since the 1980s […] the focus has shifted from present futures to present pasts’; we are, it would appear, a culture obsessed with memory, archives, and musealization.3 As emerged in the previous chapter, for commentators on the specifically French historical context such as Henry Rousso, the wartime past has become overly intrusive: indigestible, it refuses to pass as it should (‘un passé qui ne passe pas’);4 Vichy is a ‘syndrome’ redolent of repression and denial. It may well be time, figures such as Rousso seem to suggest, for the ethical obligation of a ‘duty to remember’ to cede to the enough-already pragmatism of a ‘right to forget’. From the digestive to the neurotic, discourses relating to the war court metaphors. Consider, for instance, the future-oriented notion of learning lessons from the past and its vicissitudes, or the war years as a (usually burdensome) legacy, with implications of both continuity, in the form of the next generation, and the rupture marked by the real or symbolic death of the legator. The past and its conflicts may be conceptualized as a mode of haunting, complete with uncanny revenants and the correlative collapse of discrete temporalities as figures from the past stalk the present.