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Autobiography of a Generation
Italy, 1968
Luisa Passerini; Lisa Erdberg, trans.; Joan Wallach Scott, fwd.

1996 • 182 pp. 6 x 9"
Memoir / British & European History / Women's Studies

$22.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6302-6

Trans. from the Italian

“. . . 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

A rich interweaving of personal and historical accounts of a social movement that explores the way memory reconstructs our view of the past.

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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Reviews / Endorsements

"This book is about the void of power, decisions for violence, opposition, the excitement of feminism . . . The defining years are '68 and '77. Luisa Passerini and colleagues interview about 60 women and men, some in prison, some lost to political life, some awash in it. This is a remarkable book. It's about Italy but could be about us. We in the United States ought to have such a book. It would be an explanation."—Grace Paley

“An exemplary instance of how the personal is the political; the individual who used her dreams to change her life, a part of the collective in history which attempted to turn dreams to action in 1968. Passerini's interweaving of documentary evidence and personal reflection is simultaneously both rigorous and lyrical -qualities that come through in this translation. An important book for the history it recounts and its unique way of arriving at it.”—Juliet Mitchell

“In this highly engaging book, Passerini translates her theoretical work in oral history into practice. The story of her life—from psychotherapy, unhappy relationships, and an abortion, to her involvement in left wing protests and feminist consciousness-raising groups—is presented in fragments that invite the reader to personalize her theoretical approach to autobiographical writing and to continue her discussion of the construction of women’s representations of their public and private identities.”—Graziella Parati, author of Public History, Private Stories: Italian Women’s Autobiography

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.

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:29:27 -0500