Gabriele D'Annunzio by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War

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While Ms. Hughes-Hallett can't prevent d'Annunzio's manic life from overshadowing his creative work, she has provided a balanced portrait of one of the 20th century's most fascinating figures.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Godfather to Mussolini, national hero of Italy and the WWI irredentist movement, literary icon of Joyce and Pound, lover of actress Eleonora Duse: here is Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s extraordinary biography of Gabriele d’Annunzio, poet, bon vivant, harbinger of Italian fascism.

Gabriele d’Annunzio was Italy’s premier poet at a time when poetry mattered enough to trigger riots. A brilliant self-publicist in the first age of mass media, he used his fame to sell his work, seduce women, and promote his extreme nationalism. In 1915 d’Annunzio’s incendiary oratory helped drive Italy to enter the First World War, in which he achieved heroic status as an aviator.

In 1919 he led a troop of mutineers into the Croatian port of Fiume and there a delinquent city-state. Futurists, anarchists, communists, and proto-fascists descended on the city. So did literati and thrill seekers, drug dealers, and prostitutes. After fifteen months an Italian gunship brought the regime to an end, but the adventure had its sequel: three years later, the fascists marched on Rome, belting out anthems they’d learned in Fiume, as Mussolini consciously modeled himself after the great poet.

At once an aesthete and a militarist, d’Annunzio wrote with equal enthusiasm about Fortuny gowns and torpedoes, and enjoyed making love on beds strewn with rose petals as much as risking death as an aviator. Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s stunning biography vividly re-creates his flamboyant life and dramatic times, tracing the early twentieth century’s trajectory from Romantic idealism to world war and fascist aggression.

 

About Lucy Hughes-Hallett

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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.



Author Residence: London
 
Published August 20, 2013 by Anchor. 705 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Gabriele D'Annunzio
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 20 2013

The result is a resonant study of the themes of power, masculinity, violence, and desire that made D’Annunzio such a striking emblem of his age.

Read Full Review of Gabriele D'Annunzio: Poet, Se... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Micah Mattix on Aug 23 2013

While Ms. Hughes-Hallett can't prevent d'Annunzio's manic life from overshadowing his creative work, she has provided a balanced portrait of one of the 20th century's most fascinating figures.

Read Full Review of Gabriele D'Annunzio: Poet, Se... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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