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Beyond the Piazza

Public and Private Spaces in Modern Italian Culture


Simona Storchi

The volume is a collection of essays focussing on the cultural construction, perception and representation of public and private spaces in 20th and 21st century Italian culture. Through the study of a variety of spaces, this book provides an exploration of the notions of private self and public sphere and considers their interaction. It focuses on areas where the spheres of public and private merge, meet or clash, and assesses the role played by spatial practices and representations in the complex coexistence, mutual definition and constant negotiation of public and private. It offers a variety of approaches, ranging from literature to history, art history, film and cultural studies. It brings to the fore issues relating to the production of space, such as perceptions and definitions of the self and privacy, the politics of the private and public, gender representations, the construction of collective and cultural memory, and the relationship between the individual and the urban environmnent.


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PART II GENDERED SPACES AND THE INTERFACE BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE 79 CHAPTER 4 From the Drawing Room to the Piazza Anna Kuliscioff, Margherita Sarfatti, and the Salon Tradition in Italy Emily BRAUN Hunter College and Graduate Center, City University of New York Anna Kuliscioff (1855-1925) and Margherita Sarfatti (1880-1961) were two of the most powerful political figures in early twentieth- century Italy. Through their personal histories – the first, an Anarchist turned Socialist, the second, a Socialist turned Fascist – one can plot the ideological trajectories of the Italian left in the generations between unification and the regime. Kuliscioff presided over the rise of organised labour and the fight for female emancipation, while Sarfatti broke ranks with the Partito Socialista Italiano to endorse a right wing, nationalist revision of Marxism. Despite the fact that they could not vote or hold office themselves, their reputations as strategists and proselytisers extended far outside the borders of the peninsula: “there is only one man in Italy and she is a woman”, wrote Arturo Labriola to Friedrich Engels in 1893 apropos of Kuliscioff (Del Bo 489). And Alma Mahler, herself a player on the world stage, referred to Sarfatti in 1928 as the “un- crowned Queen of Italy” (Mahler-Werfel 162). Inevitably, perceptions of these two women’s public personas were bound to their private lives: Kuliscioff as the partner of Andrea Costa and then, for more than twenty-five years, Filippo Turati; and Sarfatti as the consort of Benito Mussolini for almost two decades. Yet it would...

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