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What the Shadow Knows Paul Pines in Notre Dame Review

2016 April 18
by Morris Dickstein

Read Paul Pines’s review of Why Not Say What Happened.

What the Shadow Knows PDF

What the Shadow Knows

Morris Dickstein.
Why Not Say What Happened. Liverwright, 2015.
Paul Pines
There was another light in the room now, a thousand times brighter than the night-lights, and in the time we have taken to say this, it has been in all the drawers in the nursery, looking for Peter’s shadow…
James M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Enter, The Shadow

There are many reasons to pursue Memoir, arguably the most intimate form of literary expression. Augustine of Hippo in his Confessions admitted to once stealing an apple from an orchard, and in so doing linked his personal experience to Adam’s expulsion from Eden, and his life’s work addressing the commission and consequences of Original Sin, but not before disclosing that as a young Platonist with strong appetites, he wished to prolong his wickedness a little longer before assuming the robes of ecclesiastical authority. Rousseau hoped to reclaim his original Innocence by writing an absolutely honest memoir confessing his darkest acts and feelings, among these pissing in a cooking pot, and sexual arousal in response to beatings by a dominating Nanny. Modernist Edward Dahlberg, the disposable son of an itinerant lady barber, unleashes a cry of outraged innocence no amount of disclosure can assuage in the eponymous Confessions of Edward Dahlberg. Enter Morris Dickstein, whose earlier books, Dancing in the Dark, and Gates of Eden about the Great Depression and the apocalyptic ‘60s, mark him as one of the most astute cultural commentators of our time. Now, for his own reasons, he has chosen to become his own subject in his memoir entitled, Why Not Say What Happened, A Sentimental Education.

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