A Great & Terrible World

The Pre-Prison Letters, 1908-26

Antonio Gramsci

Edited by Derek Boothman


Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2015

Language: English

418 pages

Price INR 595.00
Book Club Price INR 446.00
INR 595.00
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This edition of letters by Antonio Gramsci vividly evokes the 'great and terrible world' in which he lived, a description he used a number of times in his correspondence. The letters show Gramsci beginning to form the theoretical concepts that come to fuller fruition in the Prison Notebooks, but they also give an essential and rounded picture of Gramsci's development, politically, intellectually and emotionally – the latter especially through letters to his family and wife.

Broadly speaking, the letters are of three types: early letters to Gramsci's family; overtly political letters from Turin, Moscow, Vienna, and Rome; and letters to the Schucht sisters, including Giulia, whom he married while in Moscow. The political letters constitute a fascinating insight into the period, both with regard to the Communist International and, more often, to Italian politics. The volume also includes the famous letter of 1926 in which Gramsci, writing in the name of the Italian Party's Political Bureau, criticizes the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party for their handling of internal opposition.

The book follows a broadly chronological structure and includes a general introduction, a guide to the main personalities involved, and additional contextual information for each chapter. It also includes some little-known photographic material.

Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci (22 January 1891 - 27 April 1937) was an Italian Marxist theoretician and communist militant. He wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime. He is widely regarded as one of the most creative Marxist theoreticians of the twentieth century.

Derek Boothman

Derek Boothman is an Adjunct Professor, School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Translation and Interpreting, University of Bologna.