This article demonstrates connections between the imagining of nations and the imagining of childhoods and argues for more critical examination of the changing roles and meanings of childhood recollections in autobiographical narratives as well as of the increasing use throughout the world of childhood memories for the construction of the modern self. The link between the child and the adult self is the body as a repository of memories and an action system, and the continuous scrutinizing of childhood experiences is usually regarded as a central and natural part of the representation of the adult person. Childhood reminiscences therefore often loom large in life narratives in terms of amount, intensity, and centrality, at the same time as they have so far obtained little theoretical attention. These facts, in my view, provide a key to the cultural analysis of the present stage of modernity. I distinguish between textual childhoods and lived childhoods, and I discuss what kind of information about lived childhood life stories can provide. In particular, I ask if life stories told by adults can help us understand childhood experiences from "the child's point of view". The difference between the self who tells and the self who was is at its greatest when people narrate their childhood experiences. It is in this sense that childhood recollections can be regarded as 'imagined childhoods'. The discussion brings together insights from many disciplines with implications for both social and literary theory.The article is a revised and abbreviated translation to Portuguese of 'Modernity, Self, and Childhood in the Analysis of Life Stories'. Introduction to Marianne Gullestad ed. Imagined Childhoods: Self and Society in Autobiographical Accounts from 1996.