Danilo Dolci


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Italian writer and social reformer. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1958.

Born in Sesana, Trieste, the son of a stationmaster, Dolci was educated at high schools in Milan before being imprisoned during World War II for refusing to serve in the fascist army. After the war he began a degree course in architecture at the University of Rome (later continued at the Milan Politecnico) but abandoned his studies in 1950 to work with the Roman Catholic priest, Saltini, at a refuge for orphans in Nomadelphia. In 1952 Dolci went to work among the poor in western Sicily. Beginning with a public fast to draw attention to the hunger around him, he waged a nonviolent struggle of protest and political agitation (including the celebrated strike-in-reverse in 1956, in which local unemployed people began the unauthorized mending of a road) to focus attention on the poverty and feudal living conditions of the Sicilian people. In 1958 he donated the money from his Lenin Peace Prize to establish employment centres in Sicily.

Dolci, whose life was dedicated to nonviolence as a means of social reform, has been called the ‘Sicilian Gandhi’. He wrote several books about the living conditions of Sicilian peasants and their oppression by local police and Mafia rule. They include Banditi a Partinico (1955; ‘The Outlaws of Partinico’), Inchiesta a Palermo (1956; ‘Report from Palermo’), Spreco (1960; ‘Waste’), and Verso un mondo nuovo (1964; translated as A New World in the Making, 1965). Later publications included The World is One Creature (1986), Bozza di Manifesto (1989; ‘Draft of a Manifesto’), and Nessi tra esperienza, etica e politica (1992; ‘Connections between Experience, Ethics, and Politics’).

Subjects: Literature — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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