Singular Pasts: The I in Historiography

(Author) (Translator)

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.63 inches | 0.93 pounds

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About the Author

Enzo Traverso is Susan and Barton Winokur Professor of the Humanities at Cornell University. His recent books include Revolution: An Intellectual History (2021), Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History, and Memory (Columbia, 2017), and Fire and Blood: The European Civil War, 1914-1945 (2016).

Adam Schoene is visiting assistant professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.


How do historians place themselves in history? Should the historical be personal? With his familiar acuity of vision, breadth of erudition, and generosity of thought, Enzo Traverso supplies a rich array of answers to these abiding questions--usually boundary-crossing, sometimes surprising, always grounded in a carefully considered politics of knowledge--Geoff Eley, author of Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany, 1930-1945

Enzo Traverso has written an important book about first-person, more or less subjective and hybridized history--a much discussed and debated approach that has risen to prominence in the recent past. His erudite, insightful analysis extends more broadly to address questions about the very nature of history and its relations to other areas such as literature and film. It should interest not only historians but all humanists and social scientists as well as the general reader.

--Dominick LaCapra, author of Understanding Others: Peoples, Animals, Pasts
In this engaging book, Traverso guides us through the innumerable narrations of the past by contemporary writers and historians. Focusing on their interactions, he outlines what he deems a significant phenomenon in current historical writing: the growing intrusiveness of subjectivity and personal experience undermining a choral vision of the past.--Carlotta Sorba, author of Politics and Sentiments in Risorgimento Italy: Melodrama and the Nation
In this sweeping review of recent histories written in the first person, at the crossroads between history and literature, Traverso offers a lucid analysis of this subjective turn and a sharp critique of this new 'I' that speaks of and for the past: that of 'Historian Narcissus.'--Thomas Dodman, author of What Nostalgia Was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion
Traverso's short and breezy survey...rings true.-- "New York Review of Books"
Sublimely readable.-- "Marx and Philosophy of Books"