+ "Not all of our memories give us the feeling that they have to do with our past. Some seem to come up from a chasm that is deeper and vaster than our past; they seem to come from before we were born. But this isn’t so strange. These memories that seem so difficult to locate come from that period of our early childhood when ideas and concepts haven’t as yet achieved the scope and coherence they one day will have, when they will give us at once a world and an idea of ourselves. During the period I’m thinking of, we are as yet outside of what one day we will be able to recognize and identify as our individual lives. We perceive things, people, events; we are struck by them, but without being able to analyze them with the tools of the adult; they are simply there before us, silent, without a before or after and without any relation to the reality around us: they are pure presences, though each is closed upon itself and full of enigma. And this is why today if we remember them, it is as though they are both outside the past and a part of our beginnings."
— Yves Bonnefoy, from My Memories of Armenia, trans. John Naughton, with thanks to apoetreflects
+ "But the fact is that writing is the only way in which I am able to cope with the memories which overwhelm me so frequently and so unexpectedly. If they remained locked away, they would become heavier and heavier as time went on, so that in the end I would succumb under their mounting weight. Memories lie slumbering within us for months and years, quietly proliferating, until they are woken by some trifle and in some strange way blind us to life. How often this has caused me to feel that my memories, and the labours expended in writing them down are all part of the same humiliating and, at bottom, contemptible business! And yet, what would we be without memory? We would not be capable of ordering even the simplest thoughts, the most sensitive heart would lose the ability to show affection, our existence would be a mere never ending chain of meaningless moments, and there would not be the faintest trace of a past."
— W.G. Sebald, from The Rings of Saturn, translated by Michael Hulse
+ "Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember."
— Joan Didion, from Blue Nights
+ "Don’t give me anything to remember you by:
I know how short is memory."
— Anna Akhmatova, in The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by J. Hemschemeyer
+ "… Nostalgia does not heighten memory’s activity, it does not awaken recollections; it suffices unto itself, unto its own feelings, so fully absorbed by its suffering and nothing else."
— Milan Kundera, from Ignorance, translated by Linda Asher
+ "A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier when they chose to become exiles. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history? The truth is that after such a long absence “their memories no longer match.” We always believe that our memories coincide with those of the person we loved, that we experienced the same thing. But this is just an illusion. Then again, what can we expect of our weak memory? It records only “an insignificant, minuscule particle” of the past, “and no one knows why it’s this bit and not any other bit.” We live our lives sunk in a vast forgetting, a fact we refuse to recognize."
— from the synopsis of Ignorance by Milan Kundera
+ "It is not hard to imagine how quickly
we’ll be forgotten. What endures is the idea we can
endure. We hang these stories on a few fragile
branches of memory."
— Richard Jackson, from “Endurance”
+ "I see everything, I remember it all.
Gently, lovingly, I preserve it in my heart.
There’s only one thing I will never know,
And I can no longer recall."
— Anna Akhmatova, from “In Tsarskoye Selo” (translated by Judith Hemschemeyer)
+ "… I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in memory’s rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?"
— Emily Brontë, from “Remembrance”
+ "If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets."
— Haruki Murakami, from Kafka on the Shore