Prison Notebooks

first publication date:  1948
genre:  essay
original language:  Italian

The Prison Notebooks (Italian: Quaderni del carcere [kwaˈdɛrni del ˈkartʃere]) are a series of essays written by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was imprisoned by the Italian Fascist regime in 1926. The notebooks were written between 1929 and 1935, when Gramsci was released from prison to a medical center on grounds of ill-health. His friend, Piero Sraffa, had supplied the writing implements and notebooks. Gramsci died in April 1937. He wrote more than 30 notebooks and 3,000 pages of history and analysis during his imprisonment. Although written unsystematically, the Prison Notebooks are considered a highly original contribution to 20th century political theory. Gramsci drew insights from varying sources - not only other Marxists but also thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Vilfredo Pareto, Georges Sorel and Benedetto Croce. His notebooks cover a wide range of topics, including Italian history and nationalism, the French Revolution, Fascism, Taylorism and Fordism, civil society, folklore, religion and high and popular culture. The notebooks were smuggled out of the prison in the 1930s. The first edition was published in 1947 and won the Viareggio Prize a few months later. Gramsci's posthumous award of the Viareggio Prize was followed by a memorial from the Constituent Assembly of Italy on April 28, 1947. The first translation into English was printed in the 1970s, by the Scottish poet and folklorist Hamish Henderson. Ideas in Marxist theory, critical theory and educational theory that are associated with Gramsci's name include: Cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the capitalist state. The need for popular workers' education to encourage development of intellectuals from the working class. The distinction between political society (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent. "Absolute historicism". A critique of economic determinism that opposes fatalistic interpretations of Marxism. A critique of philosophical materialism. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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