Making the Familiar Unfamiliar
A Conversation with Peter Haffner
Shortly before his death, Zygmunt Bauman spent several days in conversation with the Swiss journalist Peter Haffner. Out of these conversations emerged this book in which Bauman shows himself to be the pre-eminent social thinker for which he became world renowned, a thinker who never shied away from addressing the great issues of our time and always strove to interrogate received wisdom and common sense, to make the familiar unfamiliar.
As in Bauman’s work more generally, the personal and the political are interwoven in this book. Bauman’s life, which followed the same trajectory as the social and political upheavals of the 20th century, left its trace on his thought. Bauman describes his upbringing in Poland, military service in the Red Army, working for the Polish Secret Service after the war and expulsion from Poland in 1968, providing personal accounts of the historical events on which he brings his social and political insights to bear. His reflections on history, identity, Jewishness, morality, happiness and love are rooted in his own personal journey through the turbulent events of the 20th century to which he bore witness.
These last conversations shed new light on one of the greatest social thinkers of our time, offering a more personal perspective on a man who changed our way of thinking about the modern world.