Benedetto Croce (KROH-chay) was a philosopher and literary critic whose influence on modern thought is still being assessed. During World War II he was the outstanding spokesperson for individual freedom and the center of intellectual resistance to Fascism. For forty-two years his journal, La Critica, covered every important development in twentieth century thought. His philosophic and critical work is vast, amounting to more than seventy volumes.
Croce was the son of a wealthy landowner and a highly cultured woman who encouraged her son’s passion for books. He attended a Catholic boarding school patronized chiefly by aristocrats. There he took all the prizes and began writing critical essays. While at school, he examined his faith and gradually came to recognize that he was done with religious beliefs. In 1883 he lost his parents and sister in an earthquake and suffered serious injuries himself. This tragedy almost broke Croce’s spirit. He went to live in Rome, where his study of the relationship of art to history revived his interest in living.
After his recovery he traveled throughout Europe, gathering material for a history of art and other publications that gained him public acclaim. In 1895 he read the works of Karl Marx, which, he said, caused his whole mind to burst into flame; he began to study economics intensively and to write voluminously. In 1900 he began his Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General...
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