Lev Trotskii’s Experiences of Autobiography: My Life and Its Antecedents
Somewhat provocatively, I intend to reread this explicitly politicized autobiography through less political optics, in order to indicate which meanings, arguably, were important for the author. Approaching an analysis of My Life, one should emphasize its subtitle, Opyt avtobiografii, which was originally translated into English somewhat misleadingly as An Attempt at an Autobiography. This formulation is not coincidental; on the contrary, it is crucial for understanding the place of autobiographical writing in Trotskii’s way of thinking and writing. Moreover, My Life appears as one of the turning points and central nodes in Trotskii’s auto- and biographical narratives, which reveal continuity and comprehensiveness through their multiple evolutions. Although it was not revised in his later years, My Life should be read in this broad context of Trotskii’s writings. Thus, the first section outlines the variety of Trotskii’s attempts at an autobiography with a special focus on their background and preconditions. In the case of My Life, the aim of this chapter is, broadly speaking, to map out both its main controversies, but also to stress some marginal issues of rather individual nature.