“My name is without memory”, by Michela Marzano: an impossible legacy

My name is without memory

by Michela Marzano

Stock, 428 pages, €22.

Michela Marzano is ulcerated, collapsed, angry. On 25th September last, Giorgia Meloni and her far right party won the Italian legislative elections. The neofascist movement of Fratelli d’Italia is a slap in the face for the former left-wing deputy (2013-2018). Anger, again, and dishonor when she discovers that her father Ferruccio has Benito as his last name.

How could grandfather Arturo give the first name Mussolini to his son in 1936? Then begins a breathtaking investigation, which Michela Marzano begins, with an acerbic pen: “Was it a family secret, or did I erase everything from my memory for convenience, to avoid having to deal with a too cumbersome past? »

“I am in resistance”

From family memory, the magistrate grandfather was a monarchist. In fact, with supporting evidence, he was an early supporter of the Duce, as early as 1919. Shock: “I grew up convinced that I belonged to a left-wing family, one of those families that transmit beautiful values, equality and justice…”, reacts the philosopher who teaches at the University of Paris-Descartes. Who also realizes that the course of history is beyond us: “Why not just come to terms with the fact that my family’s past is just as dark as Italy’s?” »

“Little Provincial Magistrate”but also “highly respected man”Arthur “was a conceited fascist”. Judged at the end of the Second World War, he was quickly rehabilitated, and even elected in the 1950s. Faced with the misdeeds of the grandfather adhering to the anti-Jewish legislation of 1938, Michela Marzano further anchors his choices: “I am in resistance. I feed on the courage of those who have learned to resist the adversity of life, courage also means standing up to all our misfortunes. »

It is her own story that the author revisits in this breathless tale, finding the source of family clashes, the absence of maternity, or even this anorexic phase that she recounted in Light as a butterfly (Grasset, 2012). How to ignore “The destructive power of secrets and silences? (…) How far can you push the limits when looking for the truth? What price am I willing to pay, or impose on my family? » It’s all there, in the justice archives, in the houses inherited, in the family papers. It was necessary to put the puzzle together, to know everything about the mistakes of the past, and to draw the essential lessons for the future. It’s done masterfully.

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