‘An Inventory of Losses’ by Judith Schalansky: The Innumerable Items of the Past

by Lily Nilipour

In the human endeavor of preservation, there is an intimate relationship between memory and those tasked with preserving it. In his essay “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,” French historian Pierre Nora writes that “today…professional archivists have learned that the essence of their trade is the art of controlled destruction.” Among other things, this suggests that a true archivist has a love for not only what remains in the archive, but also what is lost. Memory is an art—the artist the recaller but also the forgetter. Judith Schalansky’s An Inventory of Losses (238 pages; New Directions), newly translated […]

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