E. J. Hobsbawm
◆ We print below an article based on the paper read by Professor E. J. Hobsbawm at the Gramsci Conference organised jointly by Lawrence & Wishart and the Polytechnic of Central London on March 5-6, 1977. The subheads are ours.
|Antonio Gramsci ✆ Enzo Trulli|
For during this decade Gramsci remained for practical purposes quite unknown outside his own country, since he was virtually untranslated. Indeed, attempts to get even his moving Prison Letters published in Britain and the USA failed. Except for a handful of people with personal contacts in Italy and who could read Italian—mostly communists—he might as well not have existed this side of the Alps.
During the third decade of these 40 years, there were the first serious stirrings of interest in Gramsci abroad. They were no doubt stimulated by de-Stalinisation and even more by the independent attitude of which Togliatti made himself the spokesman after 1956. At all events in this period we find the first English selections from his work and the first discussions of his ideas outside Communist parties. As it happens outside Italy, the English-speaking countries seem to have been the first to develop a sustained interest in Gramsci. Paradoxically in Italy itself, during the same decade, criticism of Gramsci became articulate and sometimes shrill, and arguments about the interpretation of his work by the Italian Communist Party developed.