A Primer for Forgetting:
Getting Past the Past
This event includes a book signing
June 19, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed scholar, translator, cultural critic, and writer LEWIS HYDE for a discussion of his latest book, A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past. This event is co-sponsored by Mass Humanities.
About A Primer for Forgetting
We live in a culture that prizes memory―how much we can store, the quality of what’s preserved, how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced. But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear―be it in the form of illness or simple absentmindedness―but rather as a blessing, a balm, a path to peace and rebirth?
A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship, autobiography, and social criticism by the author of the classics The Gift and Trickster Makes This World. It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern, weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a creative and political force. It also turns inward, using the author’s own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil.
Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical, A Primer for Forgetting is a unique and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced.
Praise for A Primer for Forgetting
"Slavery, civil war, genocide―will the consequences of these horrors ever end? Could forgetting be a way to reconciliation? Lewis Hyde distinguishes between kinds of forgetting―one of which may lead to forgiveness and justice. In A Primer for Forgetting, he has given us yet another invaluable work that advances humanity." ―Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace
"In A Primer for Forgetting, that bold yet gentle intellectual adventurer, Lewis Hyde, harrows the bottomless mysteries of memory and forgetting, trauma and recovery, amnesia and commemoration, reconciliation and forgiveness. If this deep, poignant, soulful, inquisitive, gently tragic and disarmingly erudite book were nine times longer, I would still have felt sad when I realized it was coming to an end." ―Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow and Bookends
"The sequence of Lewis Hyde’s brilliant cultural interventions here reaches a new height, but also a new level of intimacy and compassion. The book feels not so much written as 'unforgotten' onto the page, out of our collective desire to rescue the world." ―Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective and Motherless Brooklyn
"Lewis Hyde imagines a world in which the loss of memory—not published thought, not the Cloud, not ink spilled or the tyranny of documentation—is not only a gift, but a foundation for nations, the self, and creation. I come to Hyde's book during a great personal loss, as I watch my grandparents lose their memories and personalities to dementia. How can I possibly prepare for the same immense loss that surely runs in my blood? Lewis Hyde's goal isn't to comfort, but to create a new mythology of loss, citing Borges, Virgil, Emerson, John Cage, and dozens more, pasting together quotes and anecdotes, aphorism and vignette in what must be Hyde's greatest work, a sublime museum of loss as swift and venerable as the river Lethe." —Spencer Ruchti, Harvard Book Store
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
More questions? Give us a call!
Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
Featured event books will be for sale at the event. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
New This Week
Shop this week's new arrivals, updated every Tuesday.Learn More »
Shipping & Curbside Pickup
We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $60+ ship free via media mail!Learn More »
Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!
Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.Learn More »