Until 2013, the name Gabriele D’Annunzio was known only to students of Italian history, devotees of Decadent poetry and fashionistas with an interest in turn-of-the-century menswear. Now the name of this repulsive yet compelling man rings many more bells, thanks to the thrilling Samuel Johnson prize-winning biography The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett.
She details D’Annunzio’s evolution from an idealistic poet who allied himself with the Romantic aesthetic to an instigator of radical right-wing revolt against democratic authority, who eventually declared himself the Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern-day Croatia, intending to establish the utopian modern state upon his muddled fascist and artistic ideals and create a social paradigm for the rest of the world.
Our blog theme this month is Power, and what better way to investigate its machinations than to analyse the ascent (and descent) of D’Annunzio, a man adept with both pen and sword. In the enthralling podcast below, 4th Estate speaks to Lucy Hughes-Hallett about how he came to power, how he influenced the Fascist movements of the 20th Century, and whether or not she fell under the spell of the man she spent years investigating.
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