History of European Ideas 27 (2001) 425–428

Book reviews
On liberal revolution: Piero Gobetti, edited with an introduction by Nadia Urbinati, translated by William McCuaig, Foreword by Norberto Bobbio, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2000, pp. 241, ISBN 0-300-081189-9 During the period from unification in 1861 until World War II, Italian political thought was dominated by three giants who spanned the political spectrum from right to left: Giovanni Gentile, Benedetto Croce and Antonio Gramsci. Although at one level they clearly represented irreconcilable political positions, at another level they had a common political project, captured by Massimo D’Azeglio’s remark in 1861 that, ‘‘Now that Italy has been made, we must make Italians’’. The starting point for their respective theories was constituted by a series of reflections about how it might be possible to engender a civic political consciousness for a unified Italy. The predominance of Gentile, Croce and Gramsci has had a very unfortunate consequence of obscuring the theoretical and practical contribution to this debate made by theorists who understood the problems of the new state somewhat differently than the mainstream theorists of the political right, centre and left. The much less known theorists in this context include the Marxist philosopher Antonio Labriola, the liberal Guido de Ruggiero, the liberal socialist Francesco Saverio Merlino, and the author of the articles translated in the book being reviewed here, the socialist liberal Piero Gobetti. The articles translated in On Liberal Revolution make a very important contribution to bringing a virtually unknown political thinker to the attention of the English-speaking world. Indeed, apart form Paolo Spriano’s Gramsci e Gobetti (Gramsci and Gobetti),1 there is actually very little written about Gobetti even in Italian. Gobetti’s life and work belong to a largely ignored non-communist tradition of resistance to fascism in which most liberals in Italy (and elsewhere) played a very minor role. This tradition was truncated when Gobetti, suffering from wounds inflicted by fascist persecutors, died in exile in Paris in 1926 at the age of 25. A similar fate came to the editors of Giustizia e Libert" (Justice and Liberty), the a socialist liberals Carlo and Nello Roselli, who were tracked down by Mussolini’s thugs and murdered in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne in 1937 (the same year Gramsci died, just weeks after his release from prison back in Italy). Together, Gobetti and the Roselli brothers form the core of a highly unorthodox and original current of liberal thought rooted in the period from Italian unification to the triumph of fascism, of which
1

Publisher, Einaudi, 1977.

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Book reviews / History of European Ideas 27 (2001) 425–428

there is really no comparable version elsewhere in Europe or the world. Indeed, most liberals today would find it extremely difficult to accept Gobetti’s contention, liberals could defend socialist and communist positions on given issues! Nadia Urbinati has done a fine job of editing and introducing Gobetti’s articles from newspapers as well as the two journals founded by Gobetti, Energie Nuove (New Energies) and La Rivoluzione Liberale (The Liberal Revolution). The articles are divided into four sections according to the following headings: (1) Men, Women and Ideas; (2) Our Liberalism; (3) Socialism and Communism; and (4) Fascism and the Missed Liberal Revolution. Each section contains valuable material from Gobetti’s Italian writings. His views on the intellectuals and political figures of his day such as Marinetti and Luxemburg are neatly woven in with observations on what went wrong with the process unification in Italy. The articles also give the reader a clear idea of the distinctly revolutionary nature of Gobetti’s liberalism and just what was lost with his early death. Thanks go to Urbinati for bringing this patrimony of ideas to English readers. Students of contemporary Italy will also be interested in Norberto Bobbio’s short forewood, in which the now 92-year-old Bobbio situates Gobetti’s ideas in the intellectual climate of the early 1920s. Darrow Schecter School of European Studies, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QN, UK E-mail address: d.schecter@sussex.ac.uk
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Theatre of the book, 1480–1880: print, text, and performance in Europe Julie Stone Peters; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000, price d60.00, ISBN 0-19818714-9 The complex and paradoxical relationship between drama in print and drama in performance has occupied scholars and critics for as long as the two forms have coexisted. In its multi-faceted intricacies, it is not an easy relationship to unravel. Peters claims to provide in her book ‘an account of the entangled histories of print and the modern stage, addressing the meaning of this relationship for the theatre itself and for the broader cultural understanding of text and performance between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries’ (p. 2). Her project, highly interdisciplinary and taking in four centuries and most of Western Europe, is, therefore, as ambitious in scope as it is in subject, encompassing not only play texts but all manner of other printed matter associated with the theatre, including engravings and illustrations, stage designs, playbills, dance manuals and so on. This is far more than an attempt at pinning down the subtleties of the interaction between text and performance in the creation of ‘theatre’ (although this is indeed one of Peters’ central concerns): it

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