Is it true, as Cees Nooteboom once wrote, that „Memory is like a dog that lies down as it pleases"? Where have the long, lazy summers of our childhood gone? Why is it that as we grow older time seems to condense, speed up, elude us, while in old age significant events from our distant past can seem as vivid and real as what happened yesterday? In this enchanting and thoughtful book, Douwe Draaisma explores the nature of autobiographical memory. Applying a unique blend of scholarship, poetic sensibility and keen observation, he tackles extraordinary phenomena such as déjà-vu's, near-death experiences, the memory feats of idiot-savants and the effects of extreme trauma on memory recall. Raising almost as many questions as it answers, this fascinating book will not fail to touch you as it educates and entertains.
"One finishes the book with a heightened awareness of complexity and the fickleness of human memory, and a genuine sense of pleasure at having encountered such a subtle, entertaining, and illuminating guide to the territory."
Andrew Scull - Times Literary Supplement
„Draaisma is a terrific writer, whose erudition and passion for the topic are apparent in every page."
Juan Carlos Lopez -Nature Medicine
Draaisma’s book shows the highly individual and still common adventure of experiencing time through numerous illustrations from literature and experimental case-work. While we fully realize the neutrality of the clock-hand, knowing the continuity and constant rate of time, our sensation of time is diverse: the perfect moments of life slip away swiftly, but the embarrassing and painful ones seem to remain fixed for an eternity. The time-scale of memory, the queerness of déjá vu feeling, the old age impression of accelerated time, our thoughts ranging over the whole life in danger of death and many other interesting phenomena are discussed in this fascinating book.
Douwe Draaisma (1953) is Professor of the History of Psychology at the University of Groningen. His books have been widely praised, not only for their wealth of information, but also for Draaisma's excellent writing style. His successful Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas about the Mind (published for the first time in 1995), was awarded the Heymann Prize of the Dutch National Institute of Psychologists. Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older: On Autobiographical Memory (published for the first time in 2001) has won four national prizes, two literary prizes and two scientific ones, and was shortlisted for the 2005 British Aventis Prize, the world's most prestigious award for popular science. In Disturbances of the Mind (published for the first time in 2006) Draaisma shows a highly original approach, by exploring historical material and comparing it with recent findings on eponyms of well known mental illnesses. Draaisma's most recent work is The Nostalgia Factory (first published in 2008), which sold more than 50.000 copies in less than a year. Again, Draaisma writes in an engaging, almost literary style, his language is careful, and full of well-chosen metaphors. By linking two highly interesting themes, namely history and the brain, Draaisma manages to reach a huge audience.