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Journeys Through Fascism

Journeys Through Fascism: Italian Travel-Writing between the Wars

Charles Burdett
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Journeys Through Fascism
    Book Description:

    During the twenty years of Mussolini's rule a huge number of travel texts were written of journeys made during the interwar period to the sacred sites of Fascist Italy, Mussolini's newly conquered African empire, Spain during the Civil War, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and the America of the New Deal. Examining these observations by writers and journalists, the author throws new light on the evolving ideology of Fascism, how it was experienced and propagated by prominent figures of the time; how the regime created a utopian vision of the Roman past and the imperial future; and how it interpreted the attractions and dangers of other totalitarian cultures.

    The book helps gain a better understanding of the evolving concepts of imperialism, which were at the heart of Italian Fascism, and thus shows that travel writing can offer an important contribution to historical analysis.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-368-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction. Writing on Fascist Culture
    (pp. 1-23)

    The twenty years of Fascist rule in Italy were characterized by a series of violent and spectacular events. The 1920s witnessed the destruction of the democratic institutions of liberal Italy, the murder of Giacomo Matteotti (1924), the effective silencing of the opposition and the establishment of a dictatorship. In the mid-1920s, the regime orchestrated the collective struggle to increase the production of grain (‘the Battle for Wheat’) and to retain the value of the Italian currency (‘the Battle for the Lira’). In the early 1930s Italy developed its interest in territorial expansion with new impetus and in October 1935 it...

  6. Chapter 1 Signs of Roman Rule: Italian Tourists and Travellers in the Eastern Mediterranean
    (pp. 24-53)

    The eastern Mediterranean was a common destination for many of the well-established travel writers of the interwar years. Raimondo Falci (1925), a correspondent ofIl Giornale d’ItaliaandEpoca, travelled through Egypt, Palestine, Greece and Turkey in the early 1920s, and in 1925 his elegantly printed travelogue,L’Oriente sacro e l’Italia[Italy and the Sacred Orient], appeared with a photograph of one stage of his journey on every page. In 1930 Arnaldo Cipolla, perhaps the most prolific if not the most imaginative travel writer of his age, made the journey down the Nile. Three years later he organized a similar...

  7. Chapter 2 Fascination and Hostility: Two Ambivalent Accounts of Distant Journeys
    (pp. 54-88)

    In the work of various commentators, the interwar period is defined as the great age of travel. Paul Fussell’s history of British literary travelling between the wars (1980) argues that the sense of freedom in the wake of the First World War, the physical difficulty of journeying between continents and the possibility of discovering places that had been untouched by the philosophy of the late industrial age all fed the imagination of the literary elite.¹ Mario Praz, himself a correspondent in the 1920s and 1930s, made a similar point in the opening pages of his collection,Il mondo che ho...

  8. Chapter 3 The Other Spaces of Fascist Italy: The Cemetery, the Prison and the Internal Colony
    (pp. 89-117)

    Many of the figures that made a name for themselves by writing as travellers to distant countries also narrated journeys to places within the Italian mainland. Indeed, in the 1920s and 1930s the representation of both well-known and obscure sites within the peninsula constituted a flourishing literary industry. Works belonging to this sub-genre were of varied character; they ranged from the largely factual account of the peculiarities of a town or province to the more stylized evocation of the subjective dimensions of a given space. The seductive portrayal of one region or another could serve to encourage tourism within the...

  9. Chapter 4 Narratives of Settlement in Italian East Africa 1936–1941
    (pp. 118-147)

    The different phases of Italy’s colonial history are bound together by basic common factors. The seizure of Eritrea in 1890, Giolitti’s invasion of Libya in 1911, the conquest of Ethiopia in 1935 were all attempts to affirm Italy’s status as a major power akin to France and Britain. They were all part of the ‘scramble for Africa’, they all diverted attention away from domestic problems and they all tapped into a series of nationalistic myths and fantasies. Elements of continuity between liberal and Fascist Italy were evident in the type of legislation adopted in the overseas territories as well as...

  10. Chapter 5 Itineraries through Melodrama: Italian Correspondents and the Spanish Civil War
    (pp. 148-181)

    In the words of Hugh Thomas, the 1930s were the ‘great age of the foreign correspondent’ and from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War at the end of July 1936 until its end two and a half years later, ‘the greatest names in world journalism were usually to be found south of the Pyrenees’ (1961: 235). For the British or American public, writers such as Ernest Hemingway,Arthur Koestler and George Orwell, whether they participated as observers or as combatants, all reported from the Republican front.¹ Their writings married interpretations of the ideological significance of the conflict with highly personal...

  11. Chapter 6 Representing Rapprochement with Nazi Germany
    (pp. 182-214)

    In comparison with the enormous volume of writing that was produced on the invasion and subsequent colonization of Ethiopia or on involvement in the Spanish Civil War, the number of books and articles that appeared on Germany in the wake of the Nazi assumption of power was circumscribed. Nevertheless, the dramatic adoption of an authoritarian system of rule, Hitler’s admiration for the Duce and the Nazi plagiarism of Fascist symbols and rhetoric were all subjects that attracted a high level of interest in the national press and inspired a series of early commentaries on Germany under its new ruler.¹ As...

  12. Chapter 7 Competing Models of Humanity: Perceptions of Russia and the United States on the Eve of the Second World War
    (pp. 215-248)

    The literature that appeared in the interwar years on Russia and the United States was extensive. Along with every other Western country, Italy supplied a steady stream of writers and journalists who set out to discover the truth about the Soviet experiment. Though many Italians travelled to Russia in the 1920s, many others were drawn to witness the consolidation of the Soviet State and the effects of the first Five-Year Plan.¹ In the mid 1930s a number of lengthy texts on Stalin’s Russia, all written by influential commentators, appeared. In 1933 Pietro Maria Bardi, known principally for his work as...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 249-264)

    The texts that I have considered do not offer a complete picture of the world as it appeared to the writers and journalists of the interwar years. Though the aim has been to examine aspects of the representation of some of the more significant sites of the period, whole areas of the globe lie outside the scope of the book. A work that set out to provide a comprehensive study of the literature of travel from the 1920s through to the end of the 1930s would have to include a more detailed study of the way in which the European...

  14. Index
    (pp. 265-270)