Diana Melnyk


The article deals with the problem of ritualization of cultural memory, which became the main theme
in the late 1990s in German and Austrian literature on the basic of postmodern novel by Christof Ransmayr
“Morbus Kitahara”, published in 1995. The year of 1995 became a turning point in German-language literature
and marked the so-called “boom” of memorial literature, which was devoted to the presentation of events of
the recent historical past, the Second World War and the Holocaust. A number of novels were published in
that year which in different ways deal with historical experience: from immersion into individual history to
the creation of dystopian depiction of alternative history, while demonstrating the ambiguity of contemporary
perception of collective historical memory. It is important that the notion of “collective memory” has been
actively used in scholarly discourse since the early 1990s, and it marks a change in the paradigm of assessing
social processes. Similar tendencies are also observed in fi ction, which tries to give a new assessment of the
traumatic events of the past, to overcome the long silence on the issue of guilt and victim, using different
approaches and mechanisms for memory representing. The methodology used in this paper refers to the
memory studies of A. Assmann and M. Halbawchs, who both deal with the terms of cultural and collective
memory as well as with mechanisms of ritualization of cultural and collective memory. Memory a concept is
realized on three levels, distinguished by A. Assmann: individual, social (communicative memory) and cultural.
For this, cultural memory, together with the individual memory of characters, occupy a signifi cant place in the
novel. It is shown that the novel describes in detail the mechanisms of implanting of the cultural memory,
using symbols and images, as well as rituals as memory stabilizers. At the same time, an intended instilling
of guilt takes place that destroys the inhabitants morally and spiritually. The body is assumed one of the
intermediaries of memory retention which is also used to instill the negative traumatic memories. The Kitaharadisease,
which initially affects the vision of the main character of the novel, affects other characters fi gures,
primarily combatants, and becomes a bodily expression of sick memory: visual impairment should be seen
as an attempt to forget negative individual experiences.
Keywords: ritualization of memory, cultural

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30970/fpl.2018.131.2145


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