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Antonio Gramsci

Towards an Intellectual Biography

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Alistair Davidson

Many large Italian cities have a main thoroughfare ‘via Gramsci’, showing that the Communist leader has become part of Italy’s ‘national patrimony’, while internationally, the interest in Gramsci’s writings is second to none.
As a consequence of this fame, Gramsci’s heritage is claimed by rival groups: on the one hand by those who hope to establish his writings as ‘sacred texts’ for their own policies and on the other by those who stress any differences with Lenin in order to prove Gramsci a ‘rebel’.
A great merit of this biography is that it lifts the study of Gramsci away from the sterile debate about whether he was or was not a Leninist; another achievement of the author has been to integrate the circumstances of Gramsci’s life – the childhood in Sardinia, the politics of the left in the 1920s, the years of exile and prison – with his developing political and philosophical ideas.