Heroism and Affect: From Narratives of Mourning to Multidirectional Memories

  • Alison Ribeiro de Menezes


The nineteenth-century notion of heroism that Marsé subverts in Rabos de lagartija is perhaps best encapsulated in Thomas Carlyle’s 1840 lectures, Heroes, Hero-worship and the Heroic in History, yet such a conception of history as the story of its “Great Men” has long been an object of critique.1 Indeed, it is not just that contemporary culture is suspicious of the “Great Man” theory of the past, but that the legacy of postmodernist—and more particularly poststructuralist—theory has lead us to question the very idea of history as an unproblematic narrative and straightforward assertion of stable identities or, indeed, of unified subjects. Despite the religious overtones of Carlyle’s text, and postmodernist doubts about a vision that tends uncritically toward what Nietzsche called “monumental history,”2 heroes still retain strong appeal today.3 Testament to this is a resurgence of interest, in recent historiography, in the critical study of heroes and the formation of hero cults, in contrast to the well-established tradition of distanced political and historical biography.4 Such examinations of heroism are, of course, neither partial nor undistanced per se. What they signal is a shift toward cultural (rather than political, military, or social) history, and they frequently draw their categories of analysis from narrative paradigms that have long been the subject of scrutiny in literary studies.5


Affective Dimension Memory Icon Affective Intensity Soap Opera Cultural Memory 
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© Alison Ribeiro de Menezes 2014

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  • Alison Ribeiro de Menezes

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