Amnesia and The Fictional World of Archives

Original Novel Title: Amnesia: A Novel
Author: Douglas Cooper
Publisher: Toronto: Random House, 1992 (paperback)

Public librarian Rhonda K. Kitchens describes this novel as the "best example of modern gothic today by a Canadian writer." She notes that "the archivist functions as a sort of confessor...or is he the perpetrator???"

Divided into four sections or chapters, the very first is titled "Archive". The narrator describes himself as "an archival librarian" who works with plans upon first meeting one Izzy Darlow. The narrator is getting married later in the day, but Izzy quickly convinces him to hear his confession. The novel contains only one or two references to the functioning of the archives such as this one:

   The entire city is mapped in the Archive. We can trace the horizontal evolution of every building and street in Toronto. In a sense, the Archive is very much like Rome in Freud's analogy to the mind: an impossible city in which everything exists simultaneously. A building that was torn down a hundred years ago coexists with the present building, occupying the same site. Nothing is ever destroyed. Everything is remembered. (p. 9)

Many more references abound to libraries and the profound impact certain books had on Izzy.

The narrator listens to Izzy's story, misses his own wedding, dismissess Izzy, then wanders about until he assumes Izzy's name and perhaps even his identity.

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CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Suggested by Rhonda K. Kitchens, 1997.07.28; submitted by David Mattison, 1998.01.18. Updated 1999.06.25.