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Piero Gobetti’s Turin

Modernity, Myth and Memory


Niamh Cullen

In his brief public career, Piero Gobetti was one of the most outspoken and original voices of early Italian antifascism. Before his sudden death in 1926, he founded and edited three periodicals, including the fiercely antifascist La Rivoluzione Liberale and the literary journal Il Baretti. While much has been written about his antifascism and his theories of ‘liberal revolution’, this book considers him primarily as an ‘organiser of culture’ and situates him both in the context of his lived experience in Turin after the First World War and in a wider European panorama. Although politically marginal by 1918, Turin was one of Italy’s most modern cities, with its futuristic Fiat factories, vocal working class and militant socialist intellectuals such as Antonio Gramsci. The book explores Gobetti’s encounters with Turin – both its history and the modern, urban landscape of Gobetti’s own day – as central to his thinking. Historically and geographically, Turin was also the Italian city closest to France and northern Europe. If Gobetti’s immediate surroundings inspired much of his thinking, his sensibilities were – in true Piedmontese style – more European than Italian, and his ultimate impact far from only local. Finally, Gobetti’s bitter disillusionment with liberal and fascist Italy, as well as his refusal to fit any of the conventional political labels, means that his memory has remained contentious right up to the present day. This groundbreaking new study explores the roots of Gobetti’s thinking, his impact on Italian culture and his controversial legacy.


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List of Figures and Tables xi


Figures and Tables Figures Fig. 1 Piero Gobetti xiv Fig. 2 Central Turin: Piazza Castello and surrounding streets, early twentieth century 19 Fig. 3 Piero Gobetti’s student identification, confirming his enrolment in the Faculty of Giurisprudence, 2 November 1918 48 Fig. 4 The first issue of Energie Nove, dated 1–15 November 1918 78 Fig. 5 The Lingotto Fiat factory, opened in 1924 118 Fig. 6 The first issue of La Rivoluzione Liberale, dated 1–12 February, 1922 138 Fig. 7 The first issue of Il Baretti, dated 23 December 1924 196 Fig. 8 Gravestone of Piero Gobetti in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, laid in 2006 303 Figures 1–4 and 6–8 are published here courtesy of the photograph archive of the Centro Studi Piero Gobetti. Figure 5 is published by permission of the Archivio Storico Fiat. Tables Table 1 Subscribers to Rivoluzione Liberale in Italy by region 145 Table 2 List of professions of Rivoluzione Liberale subscribers 147

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