Selections from Cultural Writings

Selections from Cultural Writings

Selections from Cultural Writings

Selections from Cultural Writings

Synopsis

One of the world's most influential cultural critics, Antonio Gramsci's writings on the interconnection between culture and politics fundamentally changed the way that scholars view both. Among the first to argue that art is not the product of "men of genius" but rather particular historical and social contexts, Gramsci remains one of the most widely read theorists of modern culture.Antonio Gramsci was a founding member of the Italian Communist Party and spent most of his adult life imprisoned by Benito Mussolini. After his death and the subsequent publication of his "Prison Notebooks," he came to be known as one of the twentieth century's foremost cultural critics.

Excerpt

This section contains early writings by Gramsci from the years 1913 to 1922, a period when ‘culture’ in the dominant senses attaching to the word in Italian at that time (including ‘education’ as well as what the jargon of idealism called ‘activities of the spirit’ such as philosophy, art and literature) was a large part of his routine existence. In 1911 he had come to Turin from Sardinia on a scholarship of 70 lire a month and until 1915 he studied at the university for a humanities degree, taking courses in philosophy, Greek and Latin, Italian literature and modern history. He specialized in historical linguistics for a thesis he was never to complete, though he continued working on it until 1918. In late 1913 he joined the local branch of the Socialist Party (PSI) and in 1915 started full-time work as a journalist, joining the staff of the Turin socialist weekly Il Grido del Popolo and becoming a writer and sub-editor on the regional edition of the party newspaper Avanti!. Between 1916 and 1920 he contributed nearly two hundred articles to a regular theatre column in Avanti!, as well as writing on topical cultural and theoretical issues. He became involved in adult education within the socialist movement, lecturing to workers’ cultural circles from 1916, helping to run a discussion group (1918), a workers’ school (1919–20) and an Institute of Proletarian Culture (1921–22). By this time he had passed through the catalysing experiences of the First World War, the Bolshevik revolution and the ‘Red Years’ in Italy, developed the theory of the Factory Councils and was active in the central committee of the Communist Party (formed in January 1921) under the leadership of Amadeo Bordiga. Designated as the Party’s representative to the Communist International, he left for Moscow in May 1922, where he wrote what is chronologically the last piece in this section: a letter to Trotsky in reply to a request for information on Italian Futurism, which was originally published in Russian as an appendix to the chapter on Futurism in Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution (1923). In October 1922 Mussolini came to power and Gramsci . . .

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