On this page of TrotskyanaNet we provide a feature about Leon Trotsky's autobiography My life which was published as his first major work after his expulsion from the USSR. Both the original Russian edition as well as the German translation were first published in Berlin in November 1929 with title Moia zhizn' and Mein Leben, respectively. This great autobiographical work belongs to Trotsky's best known and most widely spread books; undoubtedly, it is an eminent source extensively used by historians and biographers, and at the same time it can be regarded as a masterpiece of historical prose and stylistic-literary elegance; it is a necessary prerequisite for the understanding and evaluation of Trotsky, particularly of the young Trotsky (from 1879 til 1904), whose life is at the special focus of our essay.
Please note that this contribution is presented as a pdf-document in German language only.*)
Following the introduction and some technical notes, our essay about Trotsky's autobiography is starting with bibliographical and historical facts and figures about the German and Russian original editions of 1929 and with mentioning some curiosities which readers may stumble upon (chapter 2).
Trotsky's conditions of life, his working conditions, his personal and political background during 1927-1929 are dealt with in chapter 3 of our essay.
The following chapter 4 features a lot of details about the genesis of the autobiography (e.g. contract with Fischer-Verlag, the role and influence of the German translator, the finalizing of the manuscript, the publication of the book).
Chapters 5 and 6 are coping with the question which intentions and interests Trotsky led when writing his memoirs as well as with his working style, and with the impact of the book, particularly its value as a source for historians and biographers.
Chapter 7 chiefly concentrates on some of the main 'alternative' sources for the study of the young Trotsky (G.A. Ziv, M. Eastman) and evaluates their meaning with regard to Trotsky historiography.
In chapter 8 we are telling the life of the young Trotsky (1879-1904) in the mirror of the first 13 chapters of his My life, extensively quoting from Trotsky's (German) text and pointing to some of the main shortcomings and omissions.
At the end of our essay we provide a bibliographical survey about other autobiographically relevant writings of Trotsky and last not least a list of references and sources. Eight appendices conclude this contribution.
*) Please note that in our text (main part and appendices) cyrillic characters are transliterated according to ISO R9 (see 3rd column of our Transliteration of Cyrillic characters list. In our text today's spelling is applied, whereas in quotations the original spelling (and transliteration, too) is maintained.
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