Liberal and Fascist Italy: 1900-1945

Liberal and Fascist Italy: 1900-1945

Liberal and Fascist Italy: 1900-1945

Liberal and Fascist Italy: 1900-1945

Synopsis

The period from 1900 to 1945 was one of the most dramatic in Italian history. It embraced two world wars, the crisis of the liberal state, and the advent of a new form of dictatorship destined to leave an imprint on the whole history of Europe. It was also a period in which Italian economy andsociety began to undergo that process of transformation which led to the modern, industrialized Italy of today. Italian writers and artists responded creatively to change and the contribution to European culture of such figures as Croce, Gramsci, D'Annunzio, Pirandello, De Chirico, or the Futuristswas one of primary importance. This volume discusses these developments in depth, paying particular attention to the social and moral conflicts resulting from modernization, war, and the impact of the totalitarian experiment of Fascism. The interaction between foreign and domestic policy is also explored. The final chapterconsiders three strands of cultural life: visual arts, literature, and social thought.

Excerpt

Over the last three decades historians have begun to interpret Europe’s past in new ways. In part this reflects changes within Europe itself, the declining importance of the individual European states in an increasingly global world, the moves towards closer political and economic integration amongst the European states, and Europe’s rapidly changing relations with the non-European world. It also reflects broader intellectual changes rooted in the experience of the twentieth century that have brought new fields of historical inquiry into prominence and have radically changed the ways in which historians approach the past.

The new Oxford Short History of Europe series, of which this Short History of Italy is part, offers an important and timely opportunity to explore how the histories of the contemporary European national communities are being rewritten. Covering a chronological span from late antiquity to the present, the Oxford Short History of Italy is organized in seven volumes, to which over seventy specialists in different fields and periods of Italian history will contribute. Each volume will provide clear and concise accounts of how each period of Italy’s history is currently being redefined, and their collective purpose is to show how an older perspective that reduced Italy’s past to the quest of a nation for statehood and independence has now been displaced by different and new perspectives.

The fact that Italy’s history has long been dominated by the modern nation-state and its origins simply reflects one particular variant on a pattern evident throughout Europe. When from the eighteenth century onwards Italian writers turned to the past to retrace the origins of their nation and its quest for independent nationhood, they were doing the same as their counterparts elsewhere in Europe. But their search for the nation imposed a periodization on Italy’s past that has survived to the present, even if the original intent has been lost or redefined. Focusing their attention on those periods––the middle ages, the Renaissance, the Risorgimento––that seemed to anticipate the modern, they carefully averted their gaze from those that did not; the Dark Ages, and the centuries of foreign occupation and conquest after the sack of Rome in 1527.

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