Forgetting Loss in Madeleine Thien’s Certainty


This essay considers the place of forgetting in the context of the debate about the ethics of representing trauma in the aftermath of mass historical atrocity, asking if there is a space left for forgetting in our endeavours to develop a politics of loss? The political stakes of remembering collective loss have been well articulate by scholars of melancholia theory over the past two decades; however, this essay argues that this approach has not been balanced with a consideration of the psychic costs of remembering for the individual traumatized subject. Madeleine Thien’s first novel, Certainty, calls attention to these costs through an emphasis on the theme of return to trauma and on the necessity, sometimes, of forgetting.

This article “Forgetting Loss in Madeleine Thien’s Certainty” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 206 (Autumn 2010): 91-108.

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