Benito Mussolini Criticism - Essay

George Orwell (essay date 1943)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Who Are the War Criminals?” in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell: My Country Right or Left 1940-1943, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1968, pp. 319-25.

[Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, and journalist. In the following review of The Trial of Mussolini,which was originally published in the London Tribune, Orwell argues against both the sense and the effectiveness of a war crimes trial for Mussolini, noting that before the advent of World War II, the dictator received support from other European leaders.]

On the face of it, Mussolini's collapse was a story straight out...

(The entire section is 2566 words.)

Piero Saporiti (essay date 1946)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “How Mussolini Fell,” in The Political Quarterly, Vol. XVII, No. 4, October-December, 1946, pp. 320-9.

[In the following essay, Saporiti details Mussolini's last days of power.]

Twenty-fifth July, 1943, started in Rome like any other Sunday. Under the burning sun, the rare passers-by who crossed the Piazza Venezia looked furtively towards the famous balcony from which, for many years, a meglomaniac had given them his orders. In front of the Palazzo Venezia, two sentries paced up and down. Everything looked normal enough, yet since the night before vague unquiet seemed to linger everywhere in the capital.

Twenty-six men were sitting in...

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René Albrecht-Carrié (essay date 1949)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Fall of Mussolini: His Own Story, in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. LXIV, No. 3, September, 1949, pp. 469-71.

[In the following review of The Fall of Mussolini: His Own Story by Benito Mussolini, Albrecht-Carrié considers the volume a “distorted” account of the events surrounding Mussolini's last days in power but valuable nonetheless for posterity.]

“One fact has been definitely overlooked in everything that has been written on the Italian catastrophe of the summer of 1943: France originated the catastrophe on a specific date, November 8, 1942” (p. 5, text). This opening sentence of [The Fall of Mussolini: His Own...

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The English Historical Review (essay date 1951)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

The English Historical Review (essay date 1951)

SOURCE: A review of Benito Mussolini: Memoirs 1942-1943, in The English Historical Review, Vol. LXVI, No. 260, July, 1951, p. 454.

[In the following review of Benito Mussolini: Memoirs 1942-1943, the anonymous critic considers the memoirs biographically and politically significant but otherwise lacking in substance.]

Benito Mussolini: Memoirs 1942-1943 consists of twenty-one articles written by Mussolini in the spring and early summer of 1944, and published, anonymously in the first instance, between 25 June and 18 July 1944 in the Corriere della Sera. They were republished hastily, with many signs of hurried editing, on 9 August 1944, as a small booklet, with the author's name prominently displayed; a second and much more handsome edition, with two further chapters and some documents, was published by the Milan firm of Mondadori in November. The title of the first edition, Il tempo del bastone e della carota (a reference to Mr. Churchill's statement in Washington on 26 May 1943 that it was intended to operate on the Italian donkey at both ends), was retained as a sub-title in the second edition, Storia di un anno. This English translation by Frances Lobb was exhaustively edited by Professor Raymond Klibansky even before Mussolini's death, although it was not published in Great Britain until November 1949 (an American edition appeared in 1948). The numerous careful notes are useful in calling attention to the many and inevitable mis-statements and suppressions of evidence that one might expect in an account of the year 1942-3 written by Mussolini in the twilight phase of Neo-Fascism at the Villa Feltrinelli. There is a certain amount of first-hand information which is not likely to be duplicated elsewhere (such as the final interview with the king of Italy on 25 July 1943), but the most surprising thing about the articles is that the author should have found sufficient interest in life to write them at all. Mussolini was not quite finished; self-justification at least could arouse him, and the German censorship was sufficiently concerned to interfere with the articles on several occasions. But the lame final chapter, which attempts to interpret Italy's economic exhaustion and half-hearted bellicosity in 1939-40 as a statesmanlike preference for peace, shows how far the mighty had fallen. The ‘memoirs' will always, however, retain some biographical and political significance. The volume also prints accounts of Mussolini's conversations during his last two years with Admiral Franco Maugeri, Flavia Iurato and Domenico Antonelli, and Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster, archbishop of Milan.

Times Literary Supplement (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

Times Literary Supplement (essay date 1962)

SOURCE: “Duce and Führer,” in The Times Literary Supplement, November 30, 1962, p. 936.

[In the following review of The Brutal Friendship: Mussolini, Hitler, and the Fall of Italian Fascism,the anonymous critic calls the book “enthralling reading.”]

Mr. Deakin's The Brutal Friendship is above all a book for specialists and must be judged as such; within the stern limits he has set himself it is a very fine piece of writing and for the specialist it makes enthralling reading. As Mr. Deakin explains, the book grew out of a study of the events leading to the meeting of the...

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L. B. Namier (essay date 1963)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Ciano's Early Diary,” in Europe in Decay: A Study in Disintegration 1936-1940, Peter Smith, 1963, pp. 106-28.

[In the following essay, Namier examines Mussolini and his regime using the diary of his foreign minister and son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano.]

In a secluded room of the Italian Foreign Office, the Palazzo Chigi, Ciano kept his diary, making in it his daily entries. Married to Mussolini's daughter Edda, an ambitious woman, he was appointed Foreign Minister in 1936, at the age of 33, and retained the post till February 1943. The diary, which starts on August 23, 1937, covers practically his entire term of office. He greatly cherished these records, and...

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John P. Diggins (essay date 1966)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The American Writer, Fascism and the Liberation of Italy,” in American Quarterly, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter, 1966, pp. 599-614.

[In the following essay, Diggins explains the varied reactions of American literary intellectuals—including Henry Miller, John Horne Burns, Sinclair Lewis, and Ernest Hemingway—to Italian fascism and Mussolini, noting that few American writers managed to rise above “narcissistic nationalism” when dealing with the issue in their works.]

The sudden fall of Benito Mussolini in July 1943 brought poetic as well as political justice. The first nation to succumb to Fascism, Italy was the first to be liberated by the democracies....

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John P. Diggins (essay date 1972)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Mussolini as American Hero,” in Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America, Princeton University Press, 1972, pp. 58-73.

[In the following essay, Diggins explores Mussolini's appeal to Americans as a signifier of heroic redemption.]


To conclude a study of the Mussolini vogue [in Mussolini and Facism: The View from America] by maintaining that in America he was nothing more than a press-manufactured celebrity is only half the story. Dismissing him as the product of a news-hungry media and a public given to dramatic “pseudo-events” ignores two salient facts: that neither publicity nor propaganda...

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Luigi Barzini (essay date 1974)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Not-So-Great Dictator,” in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXI, No. 16, October 17, 1974, pp. 22-4.

[In the following review of Mussolini: An Intimate Biography by His Widow, Barzini describes conditions in Italy that led to Mussolini's rise to power and many personal and character traits that may have led to his fall.]

Perhaps the ruin of Benito Mussolini was Giuseppe Garibaldi, the legendary hero of the Risorgimento. Like Mussolini, Garibaldi was a rough, self-taught, and credulous man of the people; in his youth he had had utopian and confused revolutionary ideas, but, in the end, he rallied to the king and, perhaps unwittingly, became a...

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Reed Way Dasenbrock (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: ELH, Vol. 55, No. 2, Summer, 1988, pp. 505-26.

[In the following essay, Dasenbrock chooses the middle section of Ezra Pound's Cantos as the basis to understanding Pound's changing views on Mussolini and Italian fascism during the 1930s. Dasenbrock argues that while Pound believed that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were to be equated politically with Mussolini, he also recognized the polarity of the two early American politicians, and his shift from Jeffersonian ideology to that of Adams, as seen in the Cantos, represents his changing thoughts regarding Mussolini's political doctrine.]

Certainly one of the difficulties faced by criticism of...

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Stephen Sicari (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Reading Pound's Politics: Ulysses as Fascist Hero,” in Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship, Vol. 17, Nos. 2 & 3, Fall & Winter, 1988, pp. 145-68.

[In the following essay, Sicari examines Ezra Pound's Cantos written before the fall of Mussolini and Italian fascism to find evidence of Pound's conception of the prototypical fascist hero.]

To understand Ezra Pound's admiration for Italian Fascism in general and Mussolini in particular, we can examine the poet's conception of heroic action in those of The Cantos written before the fall of the Fascist State.1 In 1938 Pound described “the Malatesta cantos” as...

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Thomas Cody (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Adams, Mussolini, and the Personality of Genius,” in Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship, Vol. 18, No. 3, Winter, 1989, pp. 77-103.

[In the following essay, Cody suggests that the attraction of Mussolini was related to the notion of “personality” advanced by the German Romantics, which sought to distinguish itself from both the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy by its tenet of inborn—rather than inherited or gained—superiority.]

In his book Fables of Aggression, Fredric Jameson suggests that both Wyndham Lewis' narratives and his fascist sympathies reveal efforts to defend the integrity of the subject against the threat posed...

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Reed Way Dasenbrock (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Ezra Pound, the Last Ghibelline,” in Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 16, No. 4, Spring, 1990, pp. 511-32.

[In the following essay, Dasenbrock argues that Ezra Pound's devotion to Mussolini must be understood within the context of Pound's reading and understanding of the political writings of the late-medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri, particularly in light of Dante's idealization of King Henry VII as a God figure, which may have influenced Pound's perception of Mussolini.]

No one can justly complain any longer, as once one could, that Pound's politics are a neglected topic. Everyone writing on Pound now has something to say about “the case of Ezra...

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