The Fiftieth Gate Essay

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To what extent has textual form shaped your understanding of history and memory? In your response make detailed reference to your prescribed text and one other related text of your own choosing The way composers use textual form to explore the complex relationship between history and memory highlights the importance of using both when portraying past events. The biographical memoir The Fiftieth Gate by Mark Baker is a comprehensive mix of various textual forms including historical documents and his parents’ memories. This contrast between history and memory highlights the fallacies of both and how in conjunction they provide a more cohesive representation of the past. Mark Baker explores this idea through the structuring of the text into fifty gates which is representative of the Jewish belief that the fiftieth gate is one of enlightenment. In the documentary Torn Memories of Nanjing, by Japanese activist Tamaki Matsouka, history in the form of historical records and memory presented through interviews are contrasted to challenge the perception that history is supreme and indisputable. By contrasting the accounts of survivors, Japanese war veterans and the official records by the Japanese, Matsuoka explores how history is sometimes more questionable than memory. The form in which the text is presented emphasises the importance of the combined use of both history and memory to present a more comprehensive perspective of the past. The Fiftieth Gate is a biographical memoir wherein Mark Baker explores both his parents’ personal history and his own journey as a historian on understanding the importance of memory. Baker allows the audience to relate to his view of history and memory through the exploration of his own journey of understanding and discovery through the personal, memoir style of the text which in turn shapes the audience’s understanding. The structuring of the text into ‘gates’ is representative of the Jewish belief that the Fiftieth Gate brings...
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