cryptomnesia

the recall of memories not recognized as such but thought to be original creations


What a cool word! I heard about it in a recent podcast from NPR’s On the Media, in which Ron Rosenbaum suggests that Vladimir Nabokov, rather than being guilty of plagiarism, might have been suffering from cryptomnesia when he wrote Lolita. Apparently, a German author wrote a short story called “Lolita” about an older man’s infatuation with a young girl — more than 40 years before Nabokov wrote his novel. Whoa! For more on cryptomnesia, read the Wikipedia entry.

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4 Responses to cryptomnesia

  1. Diane says:

    what’s the justification for such a generous position on Nabakov? and can i use it when i have to write my next college paper?

  2. tammy says:

    hi karl! as i often do, i decided to give my best shot at the meaning before reading it…..i thought it would be cool if it meant visiting a cemetary and having no recollection of having done so (think i’ve been watching a bit much “buffy” lately?)

  3. Karl says:

    Diane, I think the guy was just offering a counter theory to someone else who already had accused Nabakov of plagiarism. The Wikipedia entry has a great example of cryptomnesia: “Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Thus Spoke Zarathustra includes an almost word for word account of an incident also included in a book published about 1835, half a century before Nietzsche wrote. This is neither considered to be purposeful plagiarism nor pure coincidence. Nietzsche’s sister confirmed that he had indeed read the original account when he was 11-years-old.”
    Tammy, I think your definition is even better than the real one!

  4. Dad says:

    When someone imagines a life experience and relates it to others as having actually happened – and really believes it did – what’s the word for that? Is the person delusional, or simply a liar?

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