Assmann, Aleida – Forms of Forgetting

Aleida Assmannoblici zaborava
Forms of forgetting
Translated from German by Aleksandra Bajazetov
First edition: October 2018
216 pages
Price: 800 dinars





Aleida Assmann (1947) is a German specialist in English and literary studies and an Egyptologist. Together with her husband, the Egyptologist Jan Assmann, she received in 2018 the Peace Prize of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. Two other books of hers have been published by Biblioteka XX. vek: Work on national memory (translated by Aleksandra Bajazetov-Vučen, 2002), and Long shadow of the past (translated by Drinka Gojković, 2011).

“In Germany a culture of memory has developed over time that derives from the conviction that the historical burden of the Holocaust cannot be eliminated by forgetting. Memory has attained a great meaning in our culture and it is ever more frequently equated with a type of moral obligation. This widespread implicit belief was opposed by Jan Philipp Reemstma: ‘Memory is an obligation, memory has the semantics of an imperative. But what is positive about memory? Memory is, like forgetting, inherent to humans, and neither one is good or bad, but rather both are necessary for people to find themselves in life.’

Memory and forgetting are neither good nor bad by themselves, here we certainly agree with Reemstma. Beyond that, forgetting is much more than simply a defective mode of remembering. Its meaning goes well beyond forgetfulness, weak memory, and occasional memory loss. Do get a clear picture of the many and diverse forms and functions of forgetting, we have to ask in what psychological, social, and political contexts people remember and forget, and what sorts of feelings are awakened or suppressed.” (from the Introduction)