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La Grande Italia
The Myth of the Nation in the Twentieth Century
Emilio Gentile
Translated by Suzanne Dingee and Jennifer Pudney

George L. Mosse Series in Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History

“Certainly the best discussion of a national myth over the whole time span of a nation that I know.”
—George L. Mosse


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.

La Grande Italia exposes the shallowness of an entire row of well-known but flawed ‘narratives’ of the nation-building process in Italy on our library shelves. This comprehensive work supersedes them by giving full weight to the role played by the various utopian projects and social movements born of Italian nationalism, while making penetrating use of heuristic concepts such as myth, modernity, modernism, and the sacralization of politics to reveal the deeper structures of events and processes invisible to some of those who pride themselves in being ‘empirical’ historians. ”—Roger Griffin, Oxford Brookes University

Emilio Gentile is professor of contemporary history at the University of Rome La Sapienza. He is a distinguished historian of Fascism and totalitarianism, best known for his interpretation of politics as religion. He is the author of several books, including The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy; The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism; The Origins of Fascist Ideology, 1918–1925; and Politics as Religion. Suzanne Dingee and Jennifer Pudney are freelance translators based in Rome, Italy. They have taught English translation at Rome’s Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators for more than twenty years and have recently completed translating another work by Emilio Gentile, God’s Democracy.

• Italian edition, La Grande Italia: Ascesa e declino del mito della nazione nel ventesimo secolo, published by Mondadori, Milan, 1997

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George L. Mosse Series in Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History


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Cover of book is tan with an image of the Italian flag and a shadow of Italy on the flag.

LC: 2008013448 DG
432 pp.   6 x 9  
20 b/w illus.

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Paper $29.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-22814-9
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ISBN 978-0-299-22810-1
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