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By Katharine Hodgkin (auth.)

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Her first preface explains that it is designed to add ‘things omitted in my former writing and now better come to memory’,57 36 Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography and it is striking that several of those things still appear under the sign of a disturbance of memory. Her description of the most acute phase of her confusion repeatedly refers to trouble in remembering events: But farther I cannot yet remember what was done until they had me out of my bed and suffered me to walk about the chamber and galleries by; and then I was as one utterly deprived of all sense and understanding whether I did resist them or were in any way unruly thereupon, and that was the cause they bound my hands, I do not well remember.

60 For writers whose ability to grasp the world has been in question, however, it is perhaps more urgent not merely to assume but to demonstrate the security of one’s memory and the structure of one’s life. 61 Seventeenth-century protestantism was strongly inclined to stress the authority of experience: those who had endured suffering, especially spiritual suffering, were held particularly qualified to speak about it. To have lived through the mind’s collapse and emerged to tell the tale is to acquire expertise, not on the basis that having been mad gives access to hidden truths, but rather on the analogy of having come close to death or suffered great losses.

56 At the same time, though, the problems of memory run through her narrative, in various ways. Fitzherbert wrote her account almost immediately after her recovery, whereas both Trosse and Allen seem to have recorded their experiences several decades after the event, and her proliferating narrative proclaims both implicitly and explicitly the incompleteness of memory in additional prefaces and afterthoughts. Her first preface explains that it is designed to add ‘things omitted in my former writing and now better come to memory’,57 36 Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography and it is striking that several of those things still appear under the sign of a disturbance of memory.

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