Letters From Prison, Volume 2

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9780231075541: Letters From Prison, Volume 2
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Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) was one of the most original political thinkers in Western Marxism and an exceptional intellectual. Arrested and imprisoned by the Italian Fascist regime in 1926, Gramsci died before fully regaining his freedom, yet he wrote extensive letters while incarcerated, rich with insight into the physical and psychological tortures of prison. In meticulous detail, Gramsci records how political prisoners, himself included, contend with the fear of illness and death and the rules and regulations that threaten to efface their individuality. Forming an incomparable link between Gramsci's intellectual passion and his emotional vulnerability, Letters from Prison shows a man reconstructing his life while being separated from it, struggling to recapture the primary relationships that once defined his identity. Frank Rosengarten divides more than four hundred Gramsci letters into two companion volumes, complete with a chronology of the thinker's crucial life experiences, biographical notes on his correspondents, and a bibliography of works cited in his letters.

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From the Back Cover:

This second volume of Antonio Gramsci's Letters from Prison covers the years 1931 to 1937. Beginning with a letter to Tania Schucht, his sister-in-law, that expresses troubled concern about his wife's family, and ending with a series of notes to his two sons, Delio and Giuliano, these letters chronicle Gramsci's rapidly declining health, his numerous efforts, assisted by Tania and Piero Sraffa, his friend and mentor, to obtain relief from the physical and administrative oppression of imprisonment at Turi, and his transfers from Turi to Civitavecchia, to Formia, and finally to Rome, where he died on April 27, 1937. What gives the letters in Volume Two their distinctive character is the lucidity with which Gramsci confronts a variety of difficult problems of modern civilization. His exchange of letters with Tania on anti-Semitism are remarkable for their range of historical, political, and psychological considerations. His letters to his ailing wife, Giulia, on Freudianism and psychoanalysis, although brief and fragmentary, reveal fruitful perspectives on the relationship between the individual and society in periods of social and political turmoil. Gramsci's exchange of ideas with Piero Sraffa, mediated by Tania, on the philosophy of Benedetto Croce are indispensable supplements to his ideas on philosophical idealism expressed in the Prison Notebooks. Also of great interest are the letters in which Gramsci confronts his feelings of estrangement from his wife and children. These emotions prompted him to probe his own psyche with exceptional candor. Gramsci's letters to Giulia are an especially poignant aspect of his attempt to transcend the real and metaphorical walls that prevented fullcommunication with his loved ones. Another series of letters discusses his philosophy of education, as applied to his nieces and nephews in Sardinia, as well as his two sons in Moscow. Volume Two of Letters from Prison contains explanatory notes, a chronology of Gramsci's life, a bibliography, and an analytical index for the entire two-volume collection.

About the Author:

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was an Italian Marxist theorist, one-time leader of the Italian Communist Party, and founder of the official Party newspaper, l'Unita. Widely considered a leading exponent of post-Lenin neo-Marxism, he was imprisoned in 1926 by Mussolini's Fascist regime and remained incarcerated until shortly before his death. During this period he wrote more than 30 notebooks, which detailed his ideas about Italian history, critical theory, and Marxism. Among his key contributions to political theory is the notion of cultural hegemony, the means by which the ruling capitalist class maintains control of the state. In addition to the Prison Notebooks (Columbia, 1992-2007, three volumes), his Letters from Prison (Columbia, 1994, two volumes) and a collection of Pre-Prison Writings (Cambridge, 1994) have been published.

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Gramsci, Antonio
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