Historians of Modern Europe

By Hans A. Schmitt | Go to book overview

GAETANO SALVEMINI:
Meridionalista

GEORGE T. PECK

Greenwich, Connecticut

T O CHARACTERIZE Gaetano Salvemini as a meridionalista, that is, one who was concerned with the problems of his native South, may seem to place undue limitations both on his breadth of vision and his notable achievements as a historian and teacher. Such a characterization may even seem farfetched to the English-speaking public, which is far better acquainted with his work as an anti-Fascist than with the meridionalismo of his youth.1 And yet his political thought and much of the inspiration for his historical work from 1896, the date of his doctoral thesis,2 until the outbreak of the Libyan War in 1911 was centered around the southern question. During these fifteen years of intense activity he added a new dimension to thought about the South.

Even when he later turned to other interests, Salvemini never attempted to escape the strong direction which his extraordinary southern background gave him. He was born in Molfetta in Apulia in 1873, and despite the poverty and obscurity of his home town, he said with pride: I am Molfettese to the marrow of my bones."3

The Molfetta of the seventies and eighties went through a period of slightly diminished need, carried along by the boom in the production and sale of wine, and the Salvemini family was able to make ends meet. The latter was in many ways typical of

____________________
1
It is indicative that Denis Mack Smith frequently refers to Salvemini later activity but not to his meridionalismo in Italy, A Modern History ( Ann Arbor, 1959). By, contrast, Lelio Basso thinks of the youthful Salvemini as the "best Salvemini," in Gaetano Salvemini, socialista e meridionalista ( Manduria, 1959), 6-7.
2
Salvemini, La dignità cavalleresca nel commune di Firenze ( Florence, 1896).
3
Basso, Gaetano Salvemini, socialista, 19.

-206-

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Historians of Modern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xix
  • Part One - Anglo-American Perspectives 3
  • Arnold J. Toynbee - The Paradox of Prophecy 5
  • Carlton J. H. Hayes 15
  • Oscar Halecki 36
  • Hans Kohn - Historian of Nationalism 62
  • A. J. P. Taylor 78
  • J. L. Hammond 95
  • Part Two - Continental Perspectives 121
  • Adolfo Omodeo - Historian of the "Religion of Freedom" 123
  • Gerhard Ritter 151
  • Gaetano Salvemini: - Meridionalista 206
  • Ernest Labrousse 235
  • Federico Chabod - Portrait of a Master Historian 255
  • The France of M. Chastenet 291
  • Gioacchino Volpe 315
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