CARLO ROSSELLI by Stanislao G. Pugliese


Socialist Heretic and Antifascist Exile
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A scholarly biography of the prominent Italian antifascist intellectual, writer, and activist who was stabbed to death by political assassins in 1937. As many as 200,000 people attended the funeral services for Rosselli in Paris. But today, as Pugliese notes, Rosselli (a “prophet crying out in the wilderness”) is so little known outside his native land that this is the first biography of him in English. Pugliese (history/Hofstra Univ.) brings to this admiring portrait a formidable variety of tools, including a thorough knowledge of Italian history, language, literature, and landscape. After a brief introduction, the book proceeds chronologically from Rosselli’s birth in 1899 (his father was a musicologist; his mother a playwright); follows him as he studies, marries, becomes a professor of political economy at Bocconi University in Milan; describes and assesses his increasing hatred for Mussolini’s fascist government; and details his associations with fellow political radicals, his arrests and imprisonment, his increasing involvements in antifascist organizations and publications, and his exile to France. Most engaging for general readers will be Pugliese’s accounts of Rosselli’s activism: his fistfight with a pack of fascists in the streets of Milan, his motorboat escape from the island prison of Lipari, his battlefield exploits during the Spanish Civil War, his participation in various attempts to assassinate Mussolini, and his 1934 meeting with Trotsky (who “appeared conservative” to Rosselli). Pugliese’s primary focus, however, is on Rosselli’s intellectual evolution, and though social historians may delight in his many detailed exegeses of Rosselli’s writings as he endeavors to establish his hero’s place in intellectual history, the uninitiate may be bemused, if not baffled, to read, in a fairly typical passage, that Rosselli was “ideologically positioned (not trapped) between Antonio Gramsci and Piero Gobetti.” Pugliese’s research is impeccable, though this important work at times demands of nonspecialist readers an uncommon erudition. (14 halftones, 1 line illustration, not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-674-00053-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999