LITERATURE & MEMORY
In 2006, a group of psychiatrists and literary scholars led by Dr. Harrison Pope of Harvard offered $1,000 to the first person who found an account of "repressed memory" written prior to 1800. Teh group theorized that if repressed memory was a natural function of the human brain, it should appear in literature before becoming a fashionable plot device c.1800. To qualify, the account had to describe a healthy, lucid adult with amnesia for a specific traumatic event. In a paper published in December 2006, the researchers said that none of the responses offered met their criteria, giving these explanations for frequently cited memory lapses in literature:
Euripedes' Heracles: simple delirium
Shakespeare's Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1: ordinary forgetfulness
Sophocles' Oedipus: infantile amnesia
The Arthurian knight Ivain: simple delirium
Shakespeare's King Lear: simple delirium
"Jenny was friendly, but hardly a light-skirts."