Letters to the Editor

On "History by Text and Thing"

Ty Geltmaker | May 22, 2020

To the Editor:

Many thanks for ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball’s rumination on research, noting the importance of “serendipitous historical discovery” (“History by Text and Thing,” Perspectives on History, March 2020). There I was in northern Italy, full of ideas regarding my project on Italian Futurism and the infamous serate of performance, when in one local newspaper after another I kept coming across stories and editorials about an alleged epidemic of suicide. I kept saying: “But I’m not here for this,” even if I did have a predisposed understanding of Durkheim on the subject of Selbstmord in the Goethian German context. At a certain point my research led me to proclaim, “It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for; it matters what you’ve found.” Thus my book, Tired of Living: Suicide in Italy from National Unification to World War I, 1860–1915, which would never have been written if I had stuck with my first project.

Ty Geltmaker
Los Angeles

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