Living With My Century: A Memoir

22.00

Living With My Century: A Memoir | 9781843518358 | Eda Sagarra

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ISBN:9781843518358

Format:Paperback / softback

Published:30/04/2022 by The Lilliput Press Ltd

Description

Professor Eda Sagarra, born in 1933, has been significant and influential figure in Irish and European academic policy-making, contributing to the early development of the Erasmus scheme. Now, aged nearly 88, this memoir gives striking evidence of her self-discipline and formidable energy. This substantial memoir by one of the foremost female academics in Ireland starts with Sagarra’s own perspective on committing her life story to history during the pandemic lockdown of 2020:

The following memoir recalls for those born in the present century and schooled without the strong sense of Irish history, which defined our people from the Great Famine of the 1840s until recent times, what it was like to grow up as a woman in the twentieth century and seek a career in a man’s world. It tries to re-capture as much what it felt like to the person experiencing it as what was happening in society. Younger people today who read of the restrictions to which women were subject in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, will find it difficult to comprehend why our generation and the one that followed ours didn’t challenge them. But probably the greatest contrast between the Ireland of then and now was the room for manoeuvre – or rather the absence of it. Today our lives are premised on a constantly changing world. Ireland is more connected across the globe than ever it was. Today most people are mobile. The Ireland when I was young was in almost every respect a static, hierarchical and paternalist society, one in which the accident of your birth would generally determine your whole life. No life is representative, but every person’s experience is unique and worth recording for those who come after us.

A south Dublin convent girl, Sagarra probes childhood and family, schooling, and UCD -with a perceptive commentary on the Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s. Her remarkable memory and shrewd eye for detail present at times a painfully honest account of family and in the upper middle-class world of Catholic south Dublin, revealing the profound influence of Europe during her postgraduate years in post-war Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Running through this forensic account of her academic life is a bitter awareness of the constant if subtle barriers to female advancement. For contemporary critics reconstructing the history of gender equality in Ireland and for readers of feminist history, this makes for essential reading. Her description of retirement since 1997 is colourful, poignant and revealing, and her reflections on old age and youth resonate.

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