Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Elisabeth Arnould Bloomfield
In replying to Theodor Adorno's criticism regarding the lack of a theory of forgetting as reification in "Über einige Motive bei Baudelaire," Walter Benjamin states that Marcel Proust's mémoire involontaire is unable to answer such criticism. Rather, Benjamin will look to Ludwig Tieck's Der blonde Eckbert. Proust theorizes an always already forgotten sensation, externalized in a now overdetermined physical object. In Eckbert, memories are internalized and therefore, according to Sigmund Freud and Theodor Reik, never truly forgotten, but rather divided through stimuli defense into two underdetermined halves of the former whole: name and excitation. This internal separation forces any forgetting in Eckbert to be the forgetting of the connection, which had previously held together the memory. Therefore, Benjamin's reversal from Proust as theoretician of forgetting to Eckbert as locus classicus of forgetting mirrors Adorno's conflation of the true forgetting of Proustian externalization with the non-presence of reification.
Pelcher, J. Brandon, "Forgetting Eckbert, Forgetting Proust: Why Benjamin Abandoned Proust for Eckbert to Defend "Baudelaire"" (2011). Comparative Literature Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 49.