Myth and memory in the “queen of dreams”


  • Gloria Montero



Aristotle said that where the historian tells us what took place, the poet tells us how it came about. More recently, Gore Vidal defined ‘memoir’ as how one remembers one’s own life as distinct from an autobiography which is history, requiring research into dates and facts which must be double-checked. Memory and Myth play an important role in memoir, allowing the writer to incorporate the real underpinnings of a story that has been lived through rather than simply the account of a sequence of actual events. It might also be argued that the patina of memory that coats the ‘memoir’, as distinct from autobiography, might indeed add its own dimension, taking the account of something very real into a more surreal space. What I call my Rora stories published in Spanish under the title Todas Esas Guerras-- All Those Wars – have never appeared as a collection in English but have been published separately in literary journals. These stories, the very closest I think I will ever come to writing autobiography, grew out of a need to explore my own background – so fragmented in terms of geography, history and culture – at a time when, as a writer, I felt the desperate need to find out exactly who this multicultural person with her mixed baggage might be. The Queen of Dreams, one of the stories in the collection, uses the memory of the child Rora as she attempts to understand the drama and magic of sexuality and love in a grown-up, intolerant world at war. While the story explores the child’s personal history, it also reflects the psyche of Australia at that particular moment.