The Madonnas of Leningrad Themes

Debra Dean
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An exploration of memory - its fluidity and flexibility, its function and its purpose - sits at the narrative and thematic center of this story. In particular, Marina's experience of some memories disappearing while others gain more power, her experience of the past becoming safer and more appealing than the present, her experience of both past and present existing simultaneously in the same moment - all are facets of that exploration. Memory brings both salvation and suffering. The former manifests as Marina's (and arguably Anya's) memories of the Hermitage help to sustain them over a long winter of suffering and, at the novel's conclusion, inspire the young soldiers to themselves continue the war - Marina's memories, and the way in which she offers them, give them something to fight for. Simultaneously, and interestingly, memory also brings suffering - or rather, its absence does...

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This section contains 873 words
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