Paul Ginsborg

Paul Ginsborg, whose many books include A History of Contemporary Italy and Italy and Its Discontents, taught at the University of Florence. He died in May 2022.

Italy, like Britain, is a European democracy whose politics lean more towards the centre-right than the centre-left, although the long-term reasons for this are strikingly different. Britain’s political conservatism derives in great part from its insular tradition, the absence of defeat in external war and major social disturbance at home, and the consequent extraordinary continuities...

Berlinguer’s Legacy

Paul Ginsborg, 4 October 1984

On 7 June 1984, at the time of the European election campaign, Enrico Berlinguer was delivering the concluding speech at a Communist Party rally in Padua. It was wet and windy, as it had been in Italy the whole of the preceding month, and it suddenly became clear that the Communist Party Secretary was not feeling well. He took a number of sips of water, his voice became fainter, but he insisted on carrying on until he had finished what he had to say. The terrible photographs of these last few minutes of Berlinguer’s public life show his face even more deeply lined than usual, his eyes contorted with tension and pain. His frail body was all but lifted down from the podium by his aides. When he returned to his hotel he told his personal secretary and closest confidant, Antonino Tato, that he was all right and only wanted to sleep a little. Tato was reassured, but Berlinguer was suffering from a cerebral haemorrhage, and his sleep was a coma from which he never regained consciousness. He died four days later, and his funeral in Rome on 13 June was the greatest spontaneous civic demonstration in the history of the post-war Italian Republic.

A short film directed by Pasolini in 1966, La Terra Vista dalla Luna, opens with a caption printed over a fixed image: ‘Seen from the moon, this movie . . . is nothing and has not...

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