Forgetfulness: Making the Modern Culture of Amnesia

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Bloomsbury Academic
Publish Date
5.8 X 0.9 X 8.7 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author

Francis O'Gorman, from English, Irish, and Hungarian families, was born in 1967 and educated as C.S. Deneke Organ Scholar of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he took a double first and a doctorate in English literature. He is the author or editor of 23 books, mostly on English literature, and of essays on literature, music, and the condition of the modern English university. His Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury, 2015), described by John Carey as "subtle, exploratory, completely original," was a Guardian "Book of the Week," a Sunday Times "Must Read," and one of Bookbag's "History Books of the Year, 2015." For a decade, Francis O'Gorman held a chair in the School of English at the University of Leeds; he is now Saintsbury Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. When not working, he likes playing the organ, walking Arthur's Seat, or sitting in a bar.


"Offers a piercing insight into the modern era's fascination with newness and the resulting cultural implications. From a professor's perspective, I know that I have read a book worth my time and effort when I find it transforming how I see my daily life. Forgetfulness is such a book ... full of insightful points and crucial discussions of the relationship between lost cultural memory and the modern habit of forgetting. Forgetfulness is an insightful exploration of an ephemeral, amnesiac modernity that both warrants careful examination and inspires lingering thought." - Kay J. Walter, Moveable Type

"Carrying his learning lightly, Francis O'Gorman elegantly enquires into the reasons why the 21st century is losing touch with the past. History, he argues, has become a mere commodity, emptied of meaning by commercial choices, ideological sleight of hand, cultural theories and educational decisions. In these post-truth days he challenges us to reconnect with the past, actively and analytically, in order to restore the links between sense and meaning, language and reality, and to reestablish the authority of the past. No nostalgist, O'Gorman speaks for history. This is not a hymn to the past, but a call critically to recall it. At a time of migration and globalization, he rediscovers the home of memory. Forgetfulness is for anyone who wants to remember what it is like to read an intelligent and provocative book." - Robert Hewison, cultural historian and author of Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain (2014)

"Forgetfulness brilliantly diagnoses the cultural Alzheimer's disease from which modern man so complacently suffers, to the great detriment of his character. O'Gorman makes a strong plea for the importance of cultural memory and, above all, for a healthier and less narrowly self-referential historiography." - Theodore Dalrymple, writer, doctor, and author of Our Culture, What's Left of It (2004)