Autobiography of a Generation: Italy, 1968 / Edition 1

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1968 is symbolic in Italy of a whole decade of struggles by students, women, workers, intellectuals, and technicians. This extraordinary book, first published in Italy in 1988 as Autoritratto di gruppo, documents the intricate web of individual and communal experiences in the political movements of the 60s. Luisa Passerini, internationally known for her work in memory, oral history, and their intersections with social movements, sets out to rescue the "forgotten memory" of her generation and to give it literary status. Framed and illuminated by sessions of psychoanalysis, this absorbing narrative weaves episodes of Passerini's autobiography-including her involvement in the 1968 uprisings-oral histories of other participants, and Passerini's sociological observations.

"Passerini's book captures something that is, arguably, closer to lived history than anything we are accustomed to reading," writes Joan Wallach Scott in her foreword. It raises critical questions about how we reconstruct the past and vividly illustrates the forces that shaped a generation. As Passerini movingly shows, there was in those rebellions something that went further than rancor and taking sides: the idea of a new world and new human relationships. These hopes are given back to us through the Autobiography's contradictions and silences, in a recounting of events, emotions, and discoveries of the self and of others that constitute our recent history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“. . . a surprisingly fluid mix of autobiography and interviews. . . . an interesting juxtaposition of the personal and the political, further helped by a clear, uncluttered translation.”—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With a surprisingly fluid mix of autobiography and interviews, Passerini studies both Italy's 1968 student uprisings and her own psyche. Chapters alternate between sections from Passerini's journals organized roughly by month and bits from interviews with former student radicals. While the final pastiche has some holes, it is an interesting juxtaposition of the personal and the political, further helped by a clear, uncluttered translation. Passerini's journal concentrates greatly on a failed love affair and her continuing psychoanalysis, but her occasional obliqueness e.g., the reader is never completely informed about the affair prevents the appearance of self-indulgence. Passerini is as forthright and insightful about herself as she is about others: at one point, she even details her adherence to a Steiner purification diet that involved a "negation of heritage"that is, relinquishing wine, coffee, milk and meat. The interviews are more distinctly "historical" but also incorporate some biographical information. Passerini tends to interpret the interviews with a feminist perspective and also notes that the 1968 movement excluded women from its leadership while encouraging a sort of homoerotic cult around its charismatic male leaders. The former radicals are particularly revealing when commenting on their families. Many recall their mothers as having little to say about politics and their fathers as left-wingers who toed the party line but avoided personal involvement. "A Communist father is delighted for his daughter to preach free love, but can't stand for her to practice it."Oct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819563026
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/1996
  • Edition description: Trans. from the Italian
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

LUISA PASSERINI is Professor of History at the European University in Florence, author of many books, including Fascism in Popular Memory (1987), and editor of Memory and Totalitarianism (1992). JOAN WALLACH SCOTT is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She is author of Gender and the Politics of History (1988) and co-editor of Feminists Theorize the Political (1992). LISA ERDBERG has taught Italian at the University of California at Berkeley and at the Museo ItaloAmericano in San Francisco.

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Table of Contents

Translators Note
I. Foreword, by Joan Wallach Scott
II. Mirrors
1. Choosing to Be Orphans
2. From Justine to Griselda
3. One 1968
4. The End of the World
5. Paths of Individuation
6. Peonies
7. Author’s Note

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