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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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Chapter 6 - Gobetti, Gobettiani and Antifascist Turin: Echoes of History in Italy’s More Recent Past 285


Chapter 6 Gobetti, Gobettiani and Antifascist Turin: Echoes of History in Italy’s More Recent Past The late 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence both of a less politicised Gobetti, and of a figure with a more inclusive symbolic power who was being introduced to new generations of Italians on a wider scale than ever before. Although his name still sparked old Cold War tensions from time to time, journalists and intellectuals made less openly political use of it in the press than in the late 1940s and 1950s, and regular references in the media to Gobetti declined. At the same time he was introduced to wider audiences through the use of new media, from exhibitions and plays, to television documentaries. These were largely a result the ef forts of the Centro Studi Piero Gobetti (CSPG), founded in 1961. The 1960s also saw the publication of several new editions of Gobetti’s works, as well as the compilation of his complete works in three volumes by Einaudi, so that his ideas were made accessible to a new generation. The ef forts of the CSPG kept Gobetti’s name at the fore in the early and mid-1960s, particularly in the Turin daily La Stampa, but despite the ef forts to bring his story and ideas to a new generation of Italians, the late 1960s were marked by a surprising lack of engagement with Gobetti by the student protesters and New Left groups. Gobetti’s story of generational revolt, his refusal to conform to any particular...

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