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Piero Gobetti’s Turin

Modernity, Myth and Memory

Series:

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 4 - Between Politics and Culture: Il Baretti and Literary Publishing in Turin from 1922 to 1928 175

Extract

Chapter 4 Between Politics and Culture: Il Baretti and Literary Publishing in Turin from 1922 to 1928 It should be clear by now that Gobetti was no ordinary editor or politi- cal activist. It is dif ficult to define a figure who, in his ef forts to form a strong intellectual network to prepare for the ‘liberal revolution’ that would eventually overthrow both Mussolini and liberal Italy, was at the same time willing to rise above politics to the extent that even fascists could be admitted to the fold. One of Gobetti’s great talents was in making con- nections, forming and tapping into networks and communities of writers, publishers and political activists, whether in the south, the PPI press, or the literary world of ‘little reviews’. It is to the literary world that this chapter now turns. Il Baretti was Gobetti’s longest lived journal and the only one that continued after his death and under fascist censorship. The fact that a literary journal became one of his f lagship publications is testament to his intellectual versatility, broadness of vision and his capacity for organis- ing and harnessing diverse intellectual energies to his own project. Even a glance at it reveals the importance of this apparently purely literary journal to Gobetti’s long-term liberal revolution project, forcing the historian to rethink the traditional interpretation of Gobetti as a political theorist. Here it it considered in the context of Turin’s post-war literary scene, which was becoming more exciting over the course of the...

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