Autobiographical writing serves the purpose of revealing the formation of identity. Not so obviously, autobiographical writing is performative, meaning that it is a means to elicit memories (real or fictive) that contribute to self-fashioning and self-legitimation. Narrative self-writing poses the question about truth and plausibility or verisimilitude. The case of Jorge Semprún—resistance fighter in France, deportee to Buchenwald, member of the Politburo of the Spanish Communist Party, anti-Franco underground agent, and Minister of Culture in the Spanish Socialist government in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as highly-awarded author in Germany, France, and Spain, is paradigmatic for the interweaving of fiction, testimony, and memory in the drafting of a literary personality with high ethical claims. From his autobiographical novel Le long voyage to the account of his internment in Buchenwald in L’écriture ou la vie through the account-settling Autobiografía de Federico Sánchez (his alias as an undercover agent of the Spanish Communist Party) and the post-political Federico Sánchez vous salue bien, Semprún’s writings about his past selves are integrated as stages in a life that straddles individual and collective identity.
Respondenz: Jan Söffner (Friedrichshafen)