|Gramsci in the blind prison of the hereticsBy Noemi Ghetti
In his outline of Quaderni on February 8, 1929, while Mussolini was ratifying the Lateran Treaty, concordat regulating relations between State and Church, the essay on Canto X of Dante’s Inferno was being written throughout 1930-32, after Stalin’s totalitarian revolt and the fracture between Gramsci and his comrades in the prison of Turi.
Uniquely, thanks mainly to the exchange of correspondence which, through Tatiana Schucht and the economist Piero Sraffa, went from Turi to Cambridge to Moscow, the notes were read and commented on by Togliatti precisely while the figure of Gramsci, canonized in April 1931 at the congress in Cologne, was being forced out of the public scene of the party.
Promising philologist and linguist in his university days, Gramsci questions the abstract interpretation of Benedetto Croce, the “secular pope” who by distinguishing structure from poetry, intellectual activity from life, becomes the “leader of revisionism”.
Contemporarily, through the translation of the works of young Marx, we find Gramsci’s analysis of the theoretic roots of Marxism and the crystallization in economisation of the structure and sub-structure of historical materialism.
The analysis of the Canto on the irreducible atheists who refuse the immortality of the soul is a new model of literary criticism: close relations, political passion, theological research and the cultural battle come together in his writing in an extraordinary praxis of prison life which, while his solitude becomes extreme, becomes more and more universal. Political tragedy and personal drama intertwine, like Cavalcanti and Farinata in Dante’s Canto, also in the extraordinary comment by Gramsci, who unveils, through the conflict between Cavalcanti and Dante that constitutes the enigmatic plot of the famous verses, an analogy to his conflict with Togliatti. Hidden behind the protagonists is Dante’s mortal struggle with Cavalcanti, master and friend, poet and atheist philosopher, and the conversion from love seen as physical passion with which the Italian language was born in 1200, to Christian love. Gramsci returns to the origins of secular Catholic hegemony, directing his studies, Quaderni, on the “question of language” and the history of Italian intellectuals, and laying the foundations for an elaboration of the revolutionary and still modern question of cultural hegemony from the base, as a struggle to express a new secular humanism.
Translation by ©Matilda Colarossi
Noemi Ghetti’s writings include literary criticism and historical novels: Il principe diabolic: La storia di Niccolò Machiavelli (Nuove Edizioni Romane, 1997), translated in 2012 in Slovenian for Založba Ark, and Storie di eroi greci e romani. Dalle ‘Vite parallele’ di Plutarco (II ed. 2008). She writes for daily and weekly magazines (Left, Il Sogno della farfalla, Altritraliani.net, Babylon Post, Cronache laiche, Formiche e Madrelingua, trimonthly supplement in «Pagine della Dante».
She has worked on the transposition of classics for readings and musical dramas: these include Kaspar Hauser based on the memoires of Anselm Von Feuerbach, first presented in 2011 at the National Opera Theatre in Tirana.
In 2011 she published L’ombra di Cavalcanti e Dante, and in 2014 Gramsci nel cieco carcere degli eretici, both with L’Asino d’oro Edizioni.http://www.lasinodoroedizioni.it/libri/144/gramsci-nel-cieco-carcere-degli-eretici