In America, whose second name, I sometimes think, should be “amnesia,” the historical sense in this century chronically suffers one lesion after another as literary periods crowd each other out with extreme celerity, each presenting itself as the culmination of the imaginative process of all times. In consequence our literary world is afflicted with an acute loss of memory ….
—Philip Rahv, in Literature and the Sixth Sense
All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it; in Newspeak, “doublethink.”
—George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four
No reader of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is likely to forget the phenomenon of the “memory hole.” By means of this insidious device, all inconvenient reminders of the past—anything, indeed,...