A nonconformist intellectual, an all-round liberal conservative, who has gone through a hundred years of Italian history. One of the most representative figures of the ‘short century’ who marked the political and cultural debate by often taking uncomfortable positions. “A unique man for intellectual coherence”, as Renzo De Felice wrote, Giuseppe Prezzolini (1882-1982) was, among other things, the founder and soul of ‘Voce’, the most important Italian cultural magazine of the twentieth century . An intellectual to whom the Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano dedicates the essay ‘Giuseppe Prezzolini, the conservative anarchist’. The work, already published in 2008 by Mursia, will be presented again tomorrow in the Mondadori Oscars in an edition enriched by the preface by Francesco Perfetti and the afterword signed by Vittorio Feltri.
“Living for a hundred years – says Sangiuliano – is already a remarkable act in itself, not only because, as is obvious, this longevity is still rare in the majority of men, but because it means being witnesses of a long time, it means going through eras, seasons, fashions, customs. It also means undergoing suffering: wars, illnesses, seeing people die and family affections, loves, friends go away, suffering disappointments”. A long time that the owner of via del Collegio Romano scans with skill and care by relying on the study of the archives which has allowed him to bring out various unpublished works of the Umbrian thinker. A research that defines Prezzolini’s intellectual and human adventure and reconstructs the plots and currents of thought that crossed Italy and Europe in the last century.
Sangiuliano’s pages, highlights Perfetti in the preface, illuminate “the authentic image of a very fine intellectual and, together, the psychological and human portrait of an authentic conservative anarchist”. Friend and correspondent of dozens of characters, from Carducci to Gramsci, from Apollinaire to Croce, from Oriana Fallaci to Montanelli, Prezzolini was the first modern intellectual, with a multicultural vision that is still rare, open to interventionism in the world and not closed in nineteenth-century academism. He went through and represented, Sangiuliano remarks, the contradictions of the twentieth century, from the Great War to fascism, from the Second World War to the post-war period, always keeping away from ideologies and conformism.
Throughout his life, Prezzolini cared for and preserved his freedom. Freedom of action and thought that he strongly defended. An example above all. He was defined as ‘the inventor’ of Mussolini, of which he hosted the first articles and edited the first book, but when fascism came to power he decided to move first to France and then to the United States. In New York, even though he was an undergraduate, he began a new life as a lecturer at Columbia University and as a correspondent for major newspapers, but became a freelance journalist in his eighties. Finally, since his last retirement in Switzerland, he did not fail to stigmatize Italian vices, including welfarism and statism.
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