This essay purposes to consider two of Rebecca West’s most significant modernist literary works The Judge (1921) and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941) together with some of her personal writings in order to explore the concept, theorized by Marie-Aude Baronian, Stephan Besser and Yolande Jansen (2006), of memory as a perfomative process in displaced identities. This analysis will also draw from Susan Stanford Friedman’s (1998) investigation of the diasporic condition of women in the modernist period, on their separation from their real or imagined homeland by political or economical forces and on their willing or forced dislocation to other places in order to emphasizise how displacement had a fundamental role in West’s definition of identity and in her narrative. This theoretical intersection between feminism and geopolitics will shed light on the centrality of the role of memory in West’s narratives and on its ambiguous relationship with displacement. The essay will in fact take into consideration West’s memories of her younger years in Edinburgh and London and the fictionalised representation of the same cities in the strongly autobiographical novel The Judge, as well as the accounts of her travels across the Balkans later fictionalised and reconstructed in the travel narrative Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. The aim is to show the subversive potential of memory in West’s reconstruction of the places that helped to shape her identity, considering how memory, as Anne-Marie Fortier has stated, is “place-based” (2000) and how despite being an unreliable and unstable territory that shifts and changes and whose contents are modified, recollected and sometimes invented, it creates patterns across time and space becoming a performative process, a process of linking (things, events, stories, feelings) rather than a secure space of identity. Memory is then the place that West is forced to explore in her narrative.
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