Anarchist Writings Analysis

Autobiographies

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Historically, autobiography occupies an important place in anarchist literature. Many classic anarchist thinkers wrote autobiographies, the best known being Kropotkin’s Paroles d’un Révolté (1885; Memoirs of a Revolutionist, 1899). In North American literature an important autobiographical work by an anarchist is Emma Goldman’s Living My Life (1931).

In Living My Life Goldman describes the formation of her identity as an anarchist and a feminist. She points to the prejudice that she experienced growing up as a Jew in Russia, to the brutality against women and peasants that she witnessed there, and to her exposure to the revolutionary doctrines circulating in Russia during her youth as important factors in shaping her mature values and beliefs. As an adult Goldman identifies herself with all who are oppressed and in particular with oppressed women. Goldman embraces elements of collectivist as well as individualist anarchism.