The Best Books About Forgetting

By Guy Beiner

The Books I Picked & Why

Memory, History, Forgetting

By Paul Ricoeur

Memory, History, Forgetting

Why this book?

A landmark philosophical tome, which argues for the ‘imbrication of forgetting in memory’. The disentangling of the complex relationships between history, memory and forgetting raises ethical questions about abuses of memory and interrogates the connection between forgetting and forgiving.


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Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting

By Steven Rendall, Harold Weinrich

Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting

Why this book?

An inspirational exploration of profound contemplations on forgetting, which takes the reader on a guided tour through neglected passages in the writings of illustrious writers from antiquity to present times, including Homer, Ovid, Plato, Augustine, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Locke, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe, Nietzsche, Sartre, Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Böll, Borges, and many others.


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How Modernity Forgets

By Paul Connerton

How Modernity Forgets

Why this book?

A concise and lucid sociological treatise that relates forgetting to the transitions and rapid changes of contemporary urban life, which has eroded the ways in which societies traditionally remembered the past.


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Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

By Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Why this book?

Recognising that modern digital technologies, by preserving too much information, undermine the essential role forgetting has played throughout history, this book presents a forceful argument for countering violations of privacy by upholding the ‘right to be forgotten’.


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A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past

By Lewis Hyde

A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past

Why this book?

A fascinating collection of miscellanea, which constitute ‘a thought experiment seeking out places where forgetting is more useful than memory’. Thoroughly entertaining and full of eye-opening anecdotes.


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