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The Rhetoric of Violence and Sacrifice in Fascist Italy

The Rhetoric of Violence and Sacrifice in Fascist Italy: Mussolini, Gadda, Vittorini

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Rhetoric of Violence and Sacrifice in Fascist Italy
    Book Description:

    In this book, Chiara Ferrari interrogates how the rhetoric of sacrifice was used by the Italian fascist regime throughout the interwar years to support its totalitarian project and its vision of an all-encompassing bond between the people and the state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6333-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    In April 1924, Benito Mussolini remarked with satisfaction that the fascistlegioni nere(Black Legions) of Imola had in the past made him the gift of a sword inscribed with Machiavelli’s mottoCum parole non si mantengono li Stati(Not by words are States maintained).

    The irony of the all-too-literal gift was probably not lost on the Duce. Even in its more refined book version, Sir Niccolò’s advice never travelled very well in public, and, when given to the powerful, his infamous little tome had ended up more quickly on night tables than displayed on coffee tables. But flattery is...

  5. 1 Discursive Ritual and Sacrificial Presentation: The Rhetoric of Crisis and Resolution in Fascist Italy
    (pp. 13-48)

    On 18 January 1925, the fascist Curzio (Suckert) Malaparte posed the following question: “il discorso del 3 Gennaio è stato un atto sincero di fede rivoluzionaria, o non piuttosto una mossa dell’abilissima tattica mussoliniana, una maschera rivoluzionaria gettata, per ingannare gli amici e gli avversari, sul viso della normalizzazione?” (Was the “discorso del 3 gennaio” a sincere act of revolutionary faith or, rather, a crafty move by Mussolini, a revolutionary mask thrown over the face of normalization to mislead friends and enemies?) In answering his own question, he depicted a sacrificial scene: fascism had been immolated on the altar of...

  6. 2 Sacrificial Turns and Their Rhetorical Echoes
    (pp. 49-76)

    In my analysis of the speech of 3 January 1925, I argued that the speech enacted the formal inauguration of the fascist regime as a sacrificial presentation. Mussolini’s rhetorical self-immolation constituted a ritual event that dramatized his status and properties while inscribing them within a performative logic of undecidability. This logic was reiterated throughout theventennioand was crucial to the regime’s ideological articulation of crisis and resolution. In the preceding chapter, I have analysed the rhetorical strategies that allowed Mussolini to present himself as the agent of peace insofar as he was a guilty troublemaker, thereby charging the very...

  7. 3 Gadda’s Sacrificial Topographies
    (pp. 77-107)

    During the 1930s and early 1940s, Gadda did not devote himself exclusively to literary matters. His background as an electrotechnical engineer, a profession he practised most intensively from 1925 to 1934, came into full display in several articles he penned for newspapers and journals, on a variety of technical and scientific subjects as diverse as, to name just a few, new construction projects in Vatican City, the utilization of mineral resources in Ethiopia, the military assets of combatant nations, and agrarian reform in Sicily.¹ While the geographical coordinates of the settings featured in his technical articles could not be more...

  8. 4 The Redemption of Vittorini’s New Man
    (pp. 108-149)

    In this chapter, I will examine Elio Vittorini’s attempts to define in sacrificial terms the natural and essential qualities of the Italian people (popolo). Such efforts at naturalizing the spirit of self-sacrifice of theuomo nuovo(new man) are present in many of his newspaper and journal articles and in one of his most famous novels,Uomini e no(Men and Not Men).¹ The trajectory that I follow is not strictly chronological for what I aim to illustrate is not Vittorini’s intellectual trajectory which, despite persistent de-emphasis (and often outright elision) of his adherence to fascism during theventennio, has...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 150-156)

    This book has attempted to trace sacrificial discourse in political and literary texts of theventennio. I have argued that while often found in political and religious narratives, “sacrifice” acquired a distinctive set of meanings and ideological functions in the context of Italian fascism. Repeated introduction and narrative dramatizations of a sacrificial scene were fundamental to the regime’s ability to sustain a revolutionary ethos beyond its early movement phase and to its efforts to create a fascist subject who would view self-effacement as the highest personal achievement. The rhetoric of sacrifice proved to be a crucial tool for justifying the...

  10. Appendix
    (pp. 157-176)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 177-210)
  12. Abbreviations
    (pp. 211-212)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-222)
  14. Index
    (pp. 223-230)