Your letter reached me yesterday, and I am most surprised to see that you have not received a long letter which I wrote many days ago and sent to you at Zeri, Bureau d’Editions. In it I replied to your previous letter, saying that I have asked for the Labriola books and will send them as soon
The news about Antonio [Gramsci], which I got from Alfonso’s [Leonetti’s] note, has made a very deep impression on me. You, who know the facts and are a writer, should send me a letter (or several for the various papers) in which the facts of the case are accurately set forth, and an appeal is made to the English public. I would translate it into English, with perhaps some changes to suit local tastes, and then try to have it published. I think that even I alone could get it into the Daily Herald, the Nation and perhaps the Manchester Guardian. But I am sure that with the help of Salvemini, who has a lot of acquaintances and an ad hoc organization, we could obtain wider publicity. For obvious reasons, though, I should like you to give me express authorization before I approach him.
The letter should take the following factors into account: a) communism is very unpopular with liberal opinion here, and so the appeal should be of a purely emotional character and downplay the political side of the affair: English liberals get excited first about the life of an animal, next about the life of a man, and last of all about the life of a communist; b) a lot has already been heard about fascist atrocities, and so something special is needed to arouse the public: in our case, the something special should be not so much our friend’s character as his physical condition and the treatment to which he is subjected. On his condition, I know that this is a delicate matter; but a better way of making things clear should be found than: ‘A.G. est malade’. No one can find the right form better than you. As to the way he is being treated, the ‘chained like a common criminal’ line has by now lost all its effect. It is necessary to specify the length of time he spent being moved around by train and the conditions in the prison-wagon; in short, to bring out that this is a man physically much weaker than normal who is treated much worse than other prisoners: the incident with his sister-in-law, the confiscation of his parcels—these will do fine. You will have to make clear exactly why he is ‘dying of hunger’. In a word, you must realize that the reasons which make A.’s life so precious for us would have the opposite effect on the English newspapers and liberal public; and that what ought to be stressed is the human side of an especially pitiful individual case. I await your reply.
I shall not be returning to Italy yet: if it is possible, I shall most likely go at Christmas. Forgive me if I am doing nothing for S.O.; lectures begin here in a fortnight, and I realize that lecturing in English will be much harder than I thought, and I am behind with my work.
I saw Salvemini for a minute: he has received S.O. but has not had time to read it attentively. Still, he looked at it and had a very good impression: ‘it is obviously the only review where facts and ideas are discussed’, he told me. I was not sure whether he meant the only Italian or the only Communist one—once before, he had spoken harshly of the ‘abstractions’ of l’Ordine Nuovo. Your Piero
Translated by Patrick Camiller