After the words

Featured in

  • Published 20110906
  • ISBN: 9781921758225
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

MY PAST HAS not quite perished, nor would I want it to. The events described in my second memoir, The Romantic (Text, 2010), took place years ago and in another country – but the wench is not dead, only changed. There is a woman in that book called Kate, who I once was. There is a woman writing this reflection on it, who I am now. This is the moment when they – we – converge.

But as I write a memoir, though I am pulling together past and present selves, I find that I am no more unified. There’s the person, me, who had the experiences being described. There’s the I who wrote it down at the time in a diary, or bears the story in my memory. Then there is the writer, the memoirist, who puts it on the page; her successor, the critical writer who looks at that page and shapes the text to be read by others. The book is published, then I become the author, who does interviews and talks. Later I will be the person who once had the experience, once wrote it down, once used to talk about it to audiences – and I have come full circle, back into the realm of experience. Throughout, I am still the person with the original memory, who originally ‘did’; but who, curiously, may come to remember the story not as it truly happened but as I wrote it. In the search for authenticity and resurrection, we deal in contrivance and entombment.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

Don Quixote in Shanghai

Memoir'GLAD YOU MADE it,′ said my friend. 'I cannot but believe,′ said I to myself, 'that when the history of my famous achievements shall...

More from this edition

The veiled bride

MemoirTHE SYNAGOGUE WAS still there: an inconspicuous brick building in a poor part of Shanghai where tower blocks had not yet risen, on the...

Adventures of the letter I

EssayIn the town of Odessathere is a gardenand Dvonya is there,Dvonya whom I lovethough I have never been in Odessa... MORE THAN THIRTY years ago,...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.