Is it true, as the novelist Cees Nooteboom once wrote, that 'Memory is like a dog that lies down where it pleases'? Where do the long, lazy summers of our childhood go? Why is it that as we grow older time seems to condense, speed up, elude us, while in old age significant events from our distant past can seem as vivid and real as what happened yesterday? In this enchanting and thoughtful book, Douwe Draaisma, author of the internationally acclaimed Metaphors of Memory, explores the nature of autobiographical memory. Applying a unique blend of scholarship, poetic sensibility and keen observation he tackles such extraordinary phenomena as deja-vu, near-death experiences, the memory feats of idiot-savants and the effects of extreme trauma on memory recall. Raising almost as many questions as it answers, this fascinating book will not fail to touch you at the same time as it educates and entertains.
Douwe Draaisma is Professor of History of Psychology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. He is the author of Metaphors of Memory (Cambridge, 2001).
1. 'Memory is like a dog that lies down where it pleases'; 2. Flashes in the dark: first memories; 3. Smell and memory; 4. Yesterday's record; 5. The inner flashbulb; 6. 'Why do we remember forwards and not backwards?' 7. The absolute memories of Funes and Sherashevsky; 8. The advantages of a defect: the savant syndrome; 9. The memory of a grandmaster: a conversation with Ton Sijbrands; 10. Trauma and memory: the Demjanjuk case; 11. Richard and Anna Wagner: forty-five years of married life; 12. 'In oval mirrors we drive around': on experiencing a sense of deja vu; 13. Reminiscences; 14. Why life speeds up as you get older; 15. Forgetting; 16. 'I saw my life flash before me'; 17. From memory - Portrait with Still Life.