The Politics of Italian Romanticism: Mazzini and the Making of a Nationalist Culture

Lucy Riall

in Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalization of Democratic Nationalism, 1830-1920

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264317
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734472 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Politics of Italian Romanticism: Mazzini and the Making of a Nationalist Culture

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Mazzini's contribution to political change has always been controversial and difficult to assess. This chapter argues that his different activities – as journalist, as head of a vast associational network, and as political conspirator – should be taken as the expression of a single political strategy which was to make his revolutionary idea of a unitarian, republican Italy convincing to as wide a public as possible. Taking Massimo D'Azeglio's Ettore Fieramosca as an example, it looks at Mazzini's attempts to identify the Romantic narratives of historical novels with his political ambitions. The chapter also analyses in some detail the propaganda work of the Mazzinian journalist Giovan Battista Cuneo in the Rio de la Plata, and the efforts of both Cuneo and Mazzini to promote the cult of Cuneo's colleague Giuseppe Garibaldi in the early 1840s. It concludes that Mazzini's main political achievement was to have created an enduring nationalist culture in Risorgimento Italy, and that his effectiveness as a political leader has been misunderstood and underestimated.

Keywords: political change; republican Italy; Massimo D'Azeglio; Ettore Fieramosca; historical novels; propaganda; Giovan Battista Cuneo

Chapter.  9139 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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