Chapter

Writing Against the Fascist Sword

Fred Misurella

in Answering Auschwitz

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233588
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241811 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823233588.003.0016
Writing Against the Fascist Sword

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Pro Archia, Cicero's speech urging Roman citizenship for a Greek poet, famously defends poetry because it is one of the arts that “civilize and humanize men.” When, in 1333, Francesco Petrarca, known to readers in English as Petrarch, discovered the speech among a group of manuscripts in Liege, his translation and publication of it reinvigorated the argument over the value of literature in life for his time. “Theology is actually poetry,” Petrarch wrote to his brother, Gherardo. It is, Petrarch added, “poetry concerning God.” That humanistic concern for the value of poetry and artistic writing became one of the foundations of Renaissance thought. Italian narratives about the Fascist period, from Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz through Alberto Moravia's The Conformist and Two Women and Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, along with Levi's The Awakening, remain clear, objective demonstrations of this literary trend.

Keywords: Roman citizenship; Greek poet; Petrarch; Theology; artistic writing; Renaissance thought; Fascist period

Chapter.  2846 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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