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Other titles in the Cultural Memory in the Present series:
Retroactive Justice: Prehistory of Post-Communism (Cultural Memory in the Present)by Istvan Rev
Synopses & Reviews
This unorthodox scholarly work dissects the ghosts of history in order to analyze how the past—both recent and distant—haunts posterity, and in what ways the present disfigures the image of times gone by. The book presents a novel history of Communism from the perspective of its collapse, and inspects the world beyond the Fall in the distorting mirror of its imagined prehistory. Using a series of strange and darkly ironic stories, the subsequent chapters provide a close exploration of some of the essential objects of historical study: the name, the date, the dead, the relic, the pantheon, the court, the underworld, and the underground. The tension between vast distances, both in space and time, that Retroactive Justice covers, and the extremely focused analyses, provide an unexpected experience of writing and rewriting, visioning and revisioning history.
Book News Annotation:
Rev's (history and political science, Central European U., Budapest) text evolved from graduate seminars presented in Berkeley and at the U. of Alabama; a condensed form of the book was presented at a conference organized by the Getty Research Institute, and published as "Covering History," in Disturbing Remains: Memory, History and Crisis in the 20th Century (The Getty Research Institute, 2001). He offers an insider's view of the recent history of communist and post-communist Hungary. The object of his study is "...the remake: the remake of the dead, the martyr turned unknown soldier and back again, the criminal who is deemed as innocent, holy days banalized, cemeteries restructured, and unremarkable figures presented as historical monstrosities, ordinary places rebuilt as sites of horror."
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The book offers a vast panorama of Communism from the perspective of its collapse, and inspects the world beyond the fall in the distorting mirror of its imagined prehistory—providing in the process a perceptive analysis of a number of the fundamental issues of history writing.
"The book...examines key moments in 20th-century Hungarian history from oblique angles; how politically sensitive exhumations pluck the strings of contemporary nationalism; the significance of the banishment and revival of national holidays....One extraordinary chapter uses the creation of a ‘Pantheon of the Working-Class Movement' in Budapest's Kerepesi Cemetery to write an intricately wrought history of political burials in Hungary and elsewhere."—Chronicle of Higher Education
“This is a beautifully written book....Rev is remarkable for his capacity somehow to reconcile his own history with the analytical detachment of a scholar of great brilliance.”—London Review of Books
About the Author
Istvan Rév is Professor of History and Political Science, and Academic Director of the Open Society Archives at the Central European University in Budapest.
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History and Social Science » Politics » General