Gabriele D'Annunzio: Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War

Gabriele D'Annunzio: Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War

by Lucy Hughes-Hallett


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Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction
Winner of the Costa Biography Award
**Washington Post Best Books of 2013**
**Economist Best Books of 2013**

This fascinating life of Gabriele d’Annunzio—the charismatic poet, bon vivant, and virulent nationalist who prefigured Mussolini—traces the early twentieth century’s trajectory from Romantic idealism to Fascist thuggery.
D’Annunzio was Italy’s premier poet at a time when poetry could trigger riots. A brilliant self-publicist, he used his fame to sell his work, seduce women, and promote his extreme nationalism. At once an aesthete and a militarist, he enjoyed risking death no less than making love, and he wrote with equal enthusiasm about Fortuny gowns and torpedoes. In 1915 his incendiary oratory helped drive Italy into the First World War, and in 1919 he led a troop of mutineers into the Croatian port of Fiume, where he established a delinquent utopia. Futurists, anarchists, communists and proto-fascists descended on the place, along with literati and thrill-seekers, drug dealers and prostitutes. Three years later, when the fascists marched on Rome, they belted out anthems they’d learned in Fiume, while Mussolini consciously modeled himself on the great poet. Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s compelling biography is a revelation both of d’Annunzio’s flamboyant life and of the dramatic times he helped to shape.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307276551
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 518,719
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is an award-winning cultural historian and critic. She is the author of Heroes: A History of Hero Worship and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions. She has written on books, theater, and television for most of the leading British newspapers. For five years she was the television critic for the Evening Standard and has long been a regular contributor to The Sunday Times (London) Books Section. She has judged a number of literary prizes, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.

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Table of Contents

I Ecce Homo

The Pike 3

Sightings 17

Six Months 39

II Streams

Worship 69

Glory 79

Liebestod 90

Homeland 100

Youth 107

Nobility in Beauty 122

Elitism 129

Martyrdom 132

Sickness 138

The Sea 144

Decadence 149

Blood 155

Fame 158

Superman 161

Virility 180

Eloquence 187

Cruelty 193

Life 201

Drama 208

Scenes from a Life 211

Speed 241

Kaleidoscope 272

The Dogs of War 299

III War and Peace

War 317

Peace 379

The City of the Holocaust 409

The Fifth Season 442

Clausura 481

Notes 547

Select Bibliography 555

Acknowledgements 559

Illustration Credits 561

Index 563

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Remarkable . . . a terrific piece of work—as audacious as it is gripping, as thorough as it is insightful and as stirring as it is shocking.”
—John Preston, The Daily Mail
“Deeply evocative . . . It is not easy to make sense of the life of a man who was a silk-swathed aesthete, prophetic versifier, manic aviator and martial demagogue all in one. But in telling the story of his life, Ms Hughes-Hallett deftly unpicks the strands that compose and ultimately resolve these incongruities. She is a strong match for her subject, something that so many of the women in d’Annunzio’s life were lamentably not. Her style is rich, ironic and pugnacious; she jousts willingly with him and the reader becomes a spectator of this subtle and fascinating contest.”
The Economist
—Stuart Kelly,

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