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By Nancy K. Miller

In her most modern paintings of non-public feedback, Nancy okay. Miller tells the tale of the way a woman who grew up within the Nineteen Fifties and bought misplaced within the Nineteen Sixties turned a feminist critic within the Seventies. As in her past books, Miller interweaves items of her autobiography with the memoirs of contemporaries as a way to discover the unforeseen ways in which the tales of different people's lives supply intending to our personal. The evolution she chronicles was once lived by way of a new release of literary ladies who got here of age in the course of profound social swap and, buoyed by means of the strength of second-wave feminism, grew to become writers, lecturers, and activists. Miller's reminiscences shape one woman's installment in a collective memoir that continues to be unfolding, an intimate web page of a bunch portrait in method.

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Extra info for But enough about me: why we read other people's lives

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Lilienfeld believed there should be no fake feminine modesty about sexuality or body parts. Was that all we needed to know? I doubt that many of us at fifteen wanted to know much more. A classmate remembers that Mrs. Lilienfeld authorized us in certain circumstances not to wear underpants in the summer. She also instructed us never to sit with crossed legs because we would get varicose veins; she certainly turned out right about that in my case, though naturally I scoffed at the warning. “Miriam Burstein, beautiful as her name” ().

But maybe the problem was finally not about Hunter but about me. Di Prima is getting me down. I want to pose some resistance to the persona her persona brings out in me. I want to find a place to retrieve a countermemory of accomplishment. “At home,” di Prima writes, “it would be ‘Who do you think you are—Sarah Bernhardt’? whenever I ‘got dramatic’ as my parents put it—took myself seriously in any way” (). The histrionic was frowned upon. My parents would have nodded knowingly at the evaluation of my emotional style by an English teacher at Hunter:“Excellent work.

Or should we take it more seriously? Here’s my idea. One of the meanings of the word “memoir” is memorandum. And this meaning surfaces in another French expression that has passed into English: the aide-mémoire. Something that helps memory. I want to propose the notion of memoir  what do you think of my memoir? What helps you remember. In this sense what memoirs do is support you in the act of remembering. 11 We are witnessing a very powerful anxiety about memory, about remembering, very particular to our time: about gathering the testimony of the last living survivors of the Holocaust.

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