His Contempt and My Disgrace

Original title: Stirpe e vergogna

Author: Marzano, Michela

Publication Date:

October 2021



Original language and publisher

Italian | Rizzoli

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

France (Stock)


Autobiography, Literary Fiction, Memoir

His Contempt and My Disgrace

Original title: Stirpe e vergogna

Author: Marzano, Michela


“Intimate and open at once, Michela Marzano’s research reveals the silences of a country who has never really come to terms with history.” — Simonetta Fiori, La Repubblica

“A merciless self-portrait, a heartfelt plunge that re-reads the past and reminds why we mustn’t allow it to repeat itself.” — Alberto Orioli, Il Sole 24 hours

Memory imagines and interprets, distorts and reproduces. But is the truth that comes along authentic? Does it allow us to move on?

Renowned writer and columnist, an Italian parliamentarian at the forefront of social and civil rights, Michela Marzano has always believed she is “on the right side of history”. At least until the day she accidentally discovers the clear evidence of her grandfather’s belonging to fascism. How is it possible? How could a cultured man, a magistrate and refined jurist like him embrace the ideas of Mussolini from the very beginning and contribute to declaring the end of democracy? And why has her father kept such a secret from her all this time? Feeling all her certainties collapse, Michela decides to dig into the story of her family. Thus, the political and personal vicissitudes of her grandfather intertwine with those of her father, as well as Michela’s childhood, youth and adult life. Among old letters and ancient documents, memories of different pasts come alive, those of three generations that in a century have witnessed Italy’s countless attempts to reinvent itself, without ever succeeding (or wanting?) to really change. Digging into the hazy memories of her family, Michela explores Italy’s refusal to deal with the legacy of fascism, which has been collectively removed from people’s consciousness to the point that now it seems that no one has ever been a fascist and very few people admit to having had a fascist grandfather or great-grandfather.

A painful, necessary book that mixes family memoir, fiction and autobiographical fiction, questioning the legacy of memory, the nature of guilt, and the indissoluble bond between the events of personal and family history and the steps of History, which all together continue to shape our present and future, as much as they have affected our past.

Marketing Information

  •  French PDF available
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