[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-War]: Belzer on Gobetti, 'Partisan Diary: A Woman's Life in the Italian Resistance'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 11:15:50 MDT 2018

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart 

Begin forwarded message:

> From: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.msu.edu>
> Date: October 19, 2018 at 8:39:18 AM EDT
> Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]:  Belzer on Gobetti, 'Partisan Diary: A Woman's Life in the Italian Resistance'
> Reply-To: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.msu.edu>
> Ada Gobetti.  Partisan Diary: A Woman's Life in the Italian
> Resistance.  Translated and edited by Jomarie Alano. New York  Oxford
> University Press, 2014.  358 pp.  $38.95 (cloth), ISBN
> 978-0-19-938054-1.
> Reviewed by Allison Belzer (Georgia Southern University, Armstrong
> Campus)
> Published on H-War (October, 2018)
> Commissioned by Margaret Sankey
> Jomarie Alano's recent translation of Ada Gobetti's _Partisan Diary
> _brings to English-language readers a vital account of Gobetti's
> experiences in the Italian resistance. First published in 1956,
> Gobetti's diary focuses on the last twenty months of the Second World
> War when German troops poured across the border to occupy Italy.
> Already a well-known figure among anti-Fascists in the previous
> decades, Gobetti during this period of occupation transcends easy
> categorization because she was involved in a variety of resistance
> efforts. The text makes a unique contribution to our understanding of
> the Second World War.
> Firsthand accounts of the war abound, but few combine the immediacy
> of a diary with the hindsight of a memoir as well as Gobetti's. Using
> notes she took at the time, Gobetti pieced together this diary after
> several years had passed. This technique, and Gobetti's brilliant
> narrative style, magnifies the poignancy of daily events. She puts us
> in the room as she and her fellow activists make important decisions
> but also adds commentary that previews the outcome, sometimes with
> heartbreaking results: "We parted under the glow of that smile of
> his. That is how I saw him again in my mind sixteen months later
> when, in France, in an underground newspaper, I read the news of his
> horrible end" (pp. 23-24). The meticulous footnotes provided by Alano
> keep the reader in the know about the different people and groups
> that Gobetti meets; the inclusion of indices organized by name and
> place also helps.
> If Gobetti is not a familiar name to non-Italian specialists, her
> story will capture their interest. Alano's introduction sets Gobetti
> in her historical context. She was the young widow of Piero Gobetti,
> a fierce critic of Fascism who died after fleeing to Paris in 1926 to
> avoid arrest, leaving her to raise their infant son, Paolo, as a
> single mother. She worked as an English teacher (her dissertation was
> on Alexander Pope) while taking on on more responsibilities within
> the network of Turin anti-Fascist intellectuals. At the time the
> diary begins she was participating, alongside her teenaged son and
> with the support of her second husband, Ettore Marchesini, in the
> resistance at every level. The "little family of intellectuals"
> carried out acts of sabotage, published and distributed clandestine
> newspapers, and provided aid to other partisans (p. 7). Meanwhile,
> Gobetti organized two women's groups to help rally women to defeat
> the Nazi-Fascist threat. She was indefatigable in her participation.
> Like the writer Iris Origo, whose well-respected diary, _War in Val
> d'Orcia, _covers the German occupation of Tuscany, Gobetti made her
> home the de facto headquarters of resistance activity in her area.
> But, unlike Origo, Gobetti ventured out into the field, hiking across
> the Alps to France. Predictably, the French maquisards did not know
> what to make of her--a lone woman among men. They were somewhat
> relieved when they discovered she was "the mother" (indeed, Paolo was
> with them) but suspicious that she might be a Mata Hari-style
> seducer/spy. Finally, she gave "a magnificent idiotic speech"  that
> allowed them to justify her presence as a humanitarian-minded
> activist looking to network with local women about philanthropy (p.
> 258). During its weeks in France the group delivered information to
> the Allied commands and gathered newspapers, a radio, and guns to
> bring back to occupied Italy. After liberation, Gobetti became the
> vice mayor of Turin, the first woman to hold that position in any
> Italian city.
> This diary is valuable for those interested in learning more about
> Second World War history; it uncovers fascinating details about
> resistance work, political ideology, ethical dilemmas, and gender
> roles. Gobetti's most personal meditations concern her son's safety
> and the sacrifices made by his generation. She was determined to
> support Paolo's independence and respect his choices, but she worried
> constantly when he was on a mission. Her words testify to the
> importance of family bonds, a theme highlighted also in Caroline
> Moorehead's excellent recent biography of Amelia Pincherle Rosselli
> and her two sons, companions of Piero Gobetti, Carlo and Nello
> Roselli, _A Bold and Dangerous Family _(2017). Jomarie Alano has
> written a book-length biography, _A Life of Resistance: Ada Prospero
> Marchesini Gobetti (1902-1968) _(2017), for those interested in
> learning more about Ada Gobetti, a unique and inspiring individual.
> Gobetti's diary reveals how important involvement in resistance
> activities was to those opposed to Fascism and German occupation.
> Creating committees and political organizations gave them a way to
> plan for an uncertain future; carrying out acts of sabotage and
> spreading clandestine news allowed them to display their
> noncompliance with an authority they deemed unjust. And being
> together to support each other gave them the courage to persevere
> through monstrous hardship.
> Citation: Allison Belzer. Review of Gobetti, Ada, _Partisan Diary: A
> Woman's Life in the Italian Resistance_. H-War, H-Net Reviews.
> October, 2018.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=52487
> This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
> Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
> License.
> --

More information about the Marxism mailing list