Carlo Pisacane's La Rivoluzione. Revolution. An Alternative Answer to the Italian Question.

Author:Di Paola, Pietro
Position:Book review

Carlo Pisacane's La Rivoluzione. Revolution. An Alternative Answer to the Italian Question

Leicester: Matador, 2010. Translated and introduced by Richard Mann Roberts. ISBN 978-1848764484.

Richard Mann Roberts introduces Carlo Pisacane and one of his most significant pieces of writing, La Rivoluzione, for the first time to English-speaking readers.

Pisacane (1818-1857), a remarkable figure in the history of Italian unification, is mostly remembered for the dramatic ending of his insurrectionary attempt in Southern Italy in 1857, when he and dozens of his companions were killed by the Bourbon army and the inhabitants they wished to liberate.

As underlined in Roberts' introduction, translation of writings by the protagonists of the Italian Risorgimento has mostly focused on those key figures (Mazzini, Cavour, Garibaldi and King Victor II) who have also been used as foundation myths for the legitimisation of the new nation-state. Other protagonists such as the federalist Carlo Cattaneo or the social revolutionary Pisacane, who did not properly fit with the rhetoric and narrative of the new state, have been marginalised. Thus, the lack of translated works has made it difficult for readers of the Anglophone world to appreciate the originality and relevance of Pisacane's thought. Roberts' translation is a welcome attempt to redress this situation.

La Rivoluzione was part of a collection of essays published posthumously between 1858 and 1860 (Saggi storici-politici-militari sull'Italia). In these writings Pisacane analysed the causes behind the failure of previous revolutionary attempts and elaborated his views on the nature of the forthcoming revolution. The distinctiveness of Pisacane's political thought lies especially in his inclusion of libertarian and socialist principles within the struggle for national liberation--principles that sprang from a classist interpretation of Italian history. Indeed, Luigi Fabbri considered Pisacane the sharpest precursor of 'social revolution' and the first theoretician of 'anarcho-socialism'. Influenced by Proudhon and the Italian philosophers Vico, Cuoco and Filangeri, Pisacane argued that the struggle for national unification should aim not merely for...

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