This full-length biography of 19th-century Italian patriot and revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini, arguably the key figure in Italian unification, explores the relationship between the person and the ideas. Sarti presents a Mazzini who anticipated many issues of our times, including the usefulness and limitations of national states in the international community, the need to integrate the masses in society, and to balance individual freedom with social duties and obligations. But, as Sarti makes clear, Mazzini defies easy classification because of his determined efforts to reconcile opposites and strike a balance between extremes.
In pursuing his goals, Mazzini developed an extremism of his own characterized by moral intransigence and faith in the superiority of spirit over matter. Religion was at the core of his creed, but it was a highly individual religion that conformed to no established theology or norms. Mazzini lived his politics like no other figure of his generation; his power was based largely on the power of example. Although a tireless organizer, his talents were essentialy those of the publicist. The appeal to conscience, the cult of martyrs, and the cultivation of an image of victim were part of his highly personal recipe for power. Sarti presents a Mazzini with virtues and defects, strengths and weaknesses, prophetic insights and hallucinations. A major study important to all scholars and researchers of nationalism and modern Italian history.
About the Author:
ROLAND SARTI is Professor of History and former department chair at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of numerous works, including Fascism and the Industrial Leadership in Italy, 1919-1940, The Ax Within: Italian Fascism in Action, and Long Live the Strong: A History of Rural Society in the Apennine Mountains.