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New Left Review 100, July-August 2016


perry anderson

THE HEIRS OF GRAMSCI

No Italian thinker enjoys a greater fame today than Gramsci. Alike, academic citations and internet references place him above Machiavelli. The bibliography of articles and books about him now runs to some 20,000 items. Amid this avalanche, is any compass possible? The Prison Notebooks first became available, politically expurgated, in Italy in the later 1940s. The first extensive translation from them into any language came in the early 1970s, Selections in English produced by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith giving them a global readership, and still probably the most widely consulted single version of them. Some four decades later, there is already an extensive secondary literature on the history of their world-wide reception, covering a vast span of usages. [1] See, among much else, the collections Gramsci in Europa e in America, Bari 1995, and Gramsci in Asia e in Africa, Cagliari 2010. The scale of this appropriation, in an epoch so unlike that in which Gramsci lived and thought, has owed much to two features of his legacy that set it apart from that of any other revolutionary of his time.

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