Queensland University of Technology
A palimpsest is a parchment from which writing has been erased and replaced with new writing, but which still bears the traces of the earlier writing. ‘The Palimpsest Paradox’ is a work of ficto-criticism which engages with the notion of memory as a palimpsest in both a creative and a critical manner. The narrator of the piece, who has early onset dementia, is giving a lecture on memory in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. The content of the lecture is juxtaposed with the narrator’s personal narrative in the form of thoughts and memories. As the lecture progresses, the boundary between the two blurs: her memory loss becomes obvious, while memories of her childhood trauma intrude into the lecture. In this way, ‘The Palimpsest Paradox’ interrogates the interplay between remembering and forgetting, erasure and inscription, and covering and uncovering.
Keywords: ficto-criticism, palimpsest, memory, childhood trauma, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy