In this first in-depth historical study of homosexuality in Fascist Italy, Lorenzo Benadusi brings to light immensely important archival documents regarding the sexual politics of the Italian Fascist regime; he adds new insights to the study of the complex relationships of masculinity, sexuality, and Fascism; he explores the connections between new Fascist values and preexisting Italian traditional and Roman Catholic views on morality; he documents both the Fascist regime’s denial of the existence of homosexuality in Italy and its clandestine strategies and motivations for repressing and imprisoning homosexuals; he uncovers the ways that accusations of homosexuality (whether true or false) were used against political and personal enemies; and above all, he shows how homosexuality was deemed the enemy of the Fascist “New Man,” an ideal of a virile warrior and dominating husband vigorously devoted to the “political” function of producing children for the Fascist state.
Benadusi investigates the regulation and regimentation of gender in Fascist Italy, and the extent to which, in uneasy concert with the Catholic Church, the regime engaged in the cultural and legal engineering of masculinity and femininity. He cites a wealth of unpublished documents, official speeches, letters, coerced confessions, private letters and diaries, legal documents, and government memos to reveal and analyze how the orders issued by the regime attempted to protect the “integrity of the Italian race.” For the first time, documents from the Vatican archives illuminate how the Catholic Church dealt with issues related to homosexuality during the Fascist period in Italy.
La Grande Italia traces the history of the myth of the nation in Italy along the curve of its rise and fall throughout the twentieth century. Starting with the festivities for the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Italy in 1911 and ending with the centennial celebrations of 1961, Emilio Gentile describes a dense sequence of events: from victorious Italian participation in World War I through the rise and triumph of Fascism to Italy’s transition to a republic.
Gentile’s definition of “Italians” encompasses the whole range of political, cultural, and social actors: Liberals and Catholics, Monarchists and Republicans, Fascists and Socialists. La Grande Italia presents a sweeping study of the development of Italian national identity in all its incarnations throughout the twentieth century. This important contribution to the study of modern Italian nationalism and the ambition to achieve a “great Italy” between the unification of Italy and the advent of the Italian Republic will appeal to anyone interested in modern European history, Fascism, and nationalism.
Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Regional General Interests, selected by the Public Library Association