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Piero Gobetti’s Turin

Modernity, Myth and Memory

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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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Chapter 3 - The Intellectual Community of La Rivoluzione Liberale 129

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Chapter 3 The Intellectual Community of La Rivoluzione Liberale A book of some of Gobetti’s private writings, many of them diary entries, was published in 1966. It was entitled L’editore ideale in homage to the role that Gobetti aspired and strived towards in the seven years of his public career.1 The expression was coined by Gobetti himself and it encapsulated how he wished to be regarded. He aspired to be not just an intellectual or theorist, but the ‘ideal editor’. As a small avant-garde journal and book publisher, he understood the role of editor to encompass all the practical aspects of publishing, publicity and administration as well as the more ideological aspects of book and journal editing. He was constantly striv- ing to become a respected and dynamic ‘organiser of culture’, confident that by running his own small operation and retaining personal control of the financial and administrative aspects of the business, he would best be able to realise his vision. By publishing books and articles on topics ranging from British politics to poetry, he hoped to shape the outlook of his readers in politics and culture in the broader sense, and in doing so to educate them towards a greater political maturity. However the readers and writers were in many ways, as important and as active in shaping Gobetti’s political project as he himself was, and one of his great strengths was in bringing together dif ferent voices to create a new community of intellec- tuals. The famous Rivoluzione...

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