Pillar of Salt: Gender, Memory, and the Perils of Looking Back
by Janice Haaken
Rutgers University Press
Paper: 978-0-8135-2837-3

 Pillar of Salt introduces the controversy over recollections of childhood sexual abuse as the window onto a much broader field of ideas concerning memory, storytelling, and the psychology of women. The book moves beyond the poles of “true” and “false” memories to show how women’s stories reveal layers of gendered and ambiguous meanings, spanning a wide historical, cultural, literary, and clinical landscape. The author offers the concept of transformative remembering as an alternative framework for looking back, one that makes use of fantasy in understanding the narrative truth of childhood recollections.Haaken provides an alternative reading of clinical material, showing how sexual storytelling transcends the symbolic and the “real” and how cultural repression of desire remains as problematic for women as the psychological legacy of trauma.

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