History and Memory Essay

Topics: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Emotion, Memory Pages: 3 (974 words) Published: March 17, 2013
In contrast to documented evidence, personal history or memory inevitably reflects a one sided biased view of history. Evaluate the proposition in relation to your prescribed text and at least one related text. Personal history or memory inevitably reflects a one sided biased view of history. However through an analysis of multiple texts it can be seen that neither documented evidence (history) or personal memories are completely reliable. Despite this, a study of the poems “In Thai Binh (Peace) Province” and “A Letter To Marek about a Photograph” by Denise Levertov and the non-fiction book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” by Oliver Sacks it is clear that when taken together history and memory provide an enhanced approximation of past events. History has been traditionally viewed as a rational and verifiable documentation of events which have been through “academic evaluation and reflection”. However a study of the aforementioned texts reveals the fallible nature of historical evidence. The persona in “In Thai Binh (Peace) Province” is Levertov herself, she writes about her trip to Vietnam during the war and describes the photographs she captured there. The first stanza speaks of the “bombed hospitals – bombed village schools” and the “bombed silk factory” she photographed. Photographs are traditionally viewed as a reliable and historically accurate form of evidence. However the use repetition, onomatopoeia and strong imagery highlight the hardships of wartime hence creating a subjective view of this event. Levertov only documented what she deemed as significant events, this reflects the subjective and selective nature of history in which the omission of certain events creates an incomplete portrayal of the past. This can also be seen in the book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, Sacks only writes about medical cases that he judges to be memorable and intriguing and utilizes an anecdotal approach to share these stories much like Levertov. His...
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