Left-Wing Melancholia

Left-Wing Melancholia

  • The power of a hidden tradition (XIX - XX century)
  • Enzo Traverso
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Since the nineteenth century, revolutions have always displayed a memorial prescription: to preserve the memory of past experiences in order to bequeath them to the future. It was a "strategic" memory, nourished by hope. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, this dialectic between past and future has broken and the world has locked itself into the present. The fall of communism not only buried, once and for all, the naive teleology of the "better days", it also buried, for a long time, the promises of emancipation that it had incarnated. But this new relationship between history and memory offers us the opportunity to rediscover a "hidden tradition", that of the left-wing melancholy that crosses the revolutionary history, from Auguste Blanqui to Walter Benjamin, from Louise Michel to Rosa Luxemburg. It is neither a brake nor a resignation, but a way of accessing the memory of the vanquished, with the unfinished hopes of the past that are waiting to be reactivated.

At the antipodes of the nostalgic manifesto Left-Wing Melancholia - nourished by a rich iconography: paintings of Courbet Soviet posters of the 1920s, films by Eisenstein to those of Theo Angelopoulos, Chris Marker or Ken Loach - establishes a fruitful dialogue with the currents of critical thinking and current alternative political movements. It reveals with vigor and in a counter-intuitive way all the subversive and liberating charge of the revolutionary mourning.

  • ISBN: 978-953-8075-42-1
  • Dimensions: 120x190 mm
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Cover: paperback
  • Year of the edition: 2018
  • Original title: Mélancolie de gauche. La force d’une tradition cachée (XIXe-XXIe siècle)
  • Original language: French
  • Translation: Rade Kalanj

Enzo Traverso is very critical of the historical leftist consciousness. He says that its peculiar tendency can be summarized by the "Everything Must Start Again" setting. And that is nothing but a lack of memory, a disadvantage that has a weakening effect, and bad short- and long-term consequences.

Rade Kalanj


The author thinks of the left-wing melancholy as a first-rate cultural equity of humankind, basically starting with Benjamin's idea of ​​melancholy as an epistemological paradigm. This book will be interesting to left-wing supporters as well as to its enemies. The first perhaps because of the need for melancholy, as the author proves in this book, and the second because of the spitefulness that is a political emotion, as well as human.

Vjeran Katunarić


For Traverso, melancholy is not only a negative feeling or a pathological state of mourning for the old, the celebration of the defeat. It can be a source of resistance, inseparable from struggle and hope, from utopia and revolution, as melancholy is its dialectical duality. It is part of the left-wing emotional structure, it stimulates and inspires its critical thinking and strategic reflection. Such melancholy is the source of critical unbiased self-examination and study of failed revolutions and their victims.

Slaven Ravlić