22 January. Antonio Gramsci was born at Ales in the province of
Cagliari in Sardinia. His father, Francesco, the son of a colonel
in the Bourbon gendarmerie, was born in Gaeta in 1860 into a family
of Albanian origins that had moved to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
after the Greek revolution of 1821. Francesco Gramsci obtained his
lycée certificate and in 1881 left the Italian mainland for
Sardinia to take up employment as a civil servant in Ghilarza. In
1883 he married Giuseppina Marcias, a Sardinian, born in Ghilarza
in 1861. They subsequently moved to Ales. Gramsci was the fourth
of seven children: Gennaro, Grazietta, Emma, Antonio, Mario, Teresina,
Gramsci and his sisters attended a kindergarten run by nuns in
the vicinity of Nuoro where the family had moved to from Ales. Gramsci
was a frail child. When he was about four he fell from the arms
of a servant. The family later attributed Gramsci’s physical deformity
to that fall.
Gramsci’s father was suspended from his job, arrested and given
a prison sentence for alleged administrative abuses. The mother
moved back to Ghilarza with all seven children. Antonio (known as “Nino” ) was attending elementary school.
Upon completing elementary school in the summer of 1902, Gramsci
had to work for two years at the tax office in Ghilarza in order
to help his financially strapped family. In the meantime he continued
Supported by his mother and sisters, Gramsci was able to resume
his studies. He attended the last three years of secondary school
in Santu Lussurgiu, about 15 kilometers from Ghilarza. During the
school year he stayed at a peasant’s house in Santu Lussurgiu. In
the early years Gramsci manifested a bent for mathematics and science.
Around 1905 he began to read the socialist publications, including
Avanti! which his older brother, Gennaro, used to send him
from Turin where he was performing his military service.
After graduating from secondary school, Gramsci entered the Dèttori
Lyceum in Cagliari. He lived with his brother Gennaro who worked
as a bookkeeper for an ice factory, then as treasurer at the local
Chamber of Labor, and later became secretary of the Socialist Party
branch. Gramsci began frequenting socialist circles and participated
actively in discussions among young groups on the economic and social
problems of Sardinia. Sardinian nationalism and a rebellious attitude
towards the rich were the main features of Gramsci’s early political
views. In 1910 he published his first article in L'Unione Sarda,
a daily newspaper edited by Raffa Garzía. He became the newspaper’s
correspondent from Aidomaggiore, a small near Ghilarza. As a regular
reader of Il Viandante, a periodical edited by Tommaso Monicelli,
he closely followed the articles contributed by Salvemini, Croce,
Prezzolini, Cecchi, and other leading intellectuals of the time.
In this period he also started reading, for the first time and “out
of intellectual curiosity,” some works by Marx. During his
vacations he worked as a bookkeeper and gave private lessons to
defray some of his school expenses.
Summer. Gramsci graduated from the lycée. Since he wished
to attend university, he applied for a scholarship of 70 lire a
month, for ten months a year, offered by the Carlo Alberto College
in Turin for poor students from the provinces of the former Kingdom
of Sardinia. He spent some weeks in Oristano with his uncle Serafino
as the tutor of his nephew Delio. Towards the end of the summer
he left for Turin. He spent some time in Pisa as a guest of relatives
of his mother’s.
October. Gramsci was awarded the scholarship to attend university.
Palmiro Togliatti also competed for the same scholarship.
November. He enrolled as a student of Letters at the University
of Turin. For a short time he lived with Angelo Tasca, a fellow
student and leader of the Socialist youth movement. He later rented
a small room in an apartment occupied by a widow on the top floor
of a building close to the University.
During his first few months as a student Gramsci was lonely, faced
serious financial difficulties, and suffered from nervous exhaustion.
He was interested primarily in the studying linguistics, and he
started doing some research on the Sardinian dialect under the guidance
of Professor Matteo Bartoli.. He also took a course Italian literature
taught by Umberto Cosmo. He renewed his acquaintance with Palmiro
Togliatti when both of them were taking the same course on Roman
law; they became friends and before long they were doing joint research
on the social structure of Sardinia.
Gramsci spent his summer holidays with his family in Ghilarza.
In the autumn term he passed his exams in geography, linguistics
(cum laude), and Greek and Latin grammar.
During the 1912-13 academic year Gramsci took several courses,
taught by Arturo Farinelli, Pietro Toesca, Luigi Einaudi, Francesco
Ruffini and others, in the departments of literature and law. His
poor health, however, prevented from sitting for any exams.
October. From Ghilarza, Gramsci declared his support for an association
(Gruppo di Azione e Propaganda Antiprotezionista) organized in Sardinia
by Attilio Deffenu and Nicolò Fancello to actively oppose
protectionist trade laws . Gramsci’s support was publicly recorded
in the 9 October issue of La Voce, the journal edited by
Giuseppe Prezzolini. While in Sardinia he witnessed the political
campaign preceding the first elections held under universal suffrage
(26 October-2 November). He was impressed by the changes that came
about as a result of the mass participation of the peasants in political
life, and he wrote about it to his friend Tasca. In the following
months, according to Tasca, Gramsci established his first contacts
with the socialist movement in Turin, in particular with the youth
section. Probably, Gramsci became a member of the Socialist Party
in Turin during this period.
In the Spring Gramsci passed his university exams in moral philosophy,
modern history, and Greek literature.
He was a regular and attentive reader of Prezzolini's La Voce
and Salvemini's L'Unità . Together with some friends,
he explored the idea of founding a socialist periodical. He supported
an initiative to nominate Gaetano Salvemini as a candidate for election
to parliament from a district in Turin. Gramsci drew close to the
workers’ and student groups (socialists, libertarians, etc.) which
made up the leftist revolutionary faction in Turin and which played
an active role in the workers’ demonstration of 9 June, during what
came to be known a the “red week.”
October. Gramsci intervened in the debate about the position of
the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) towards the war with an article, “Neutralità attiva e operante” ("Active and
Meaningful Neutrality” ) in Il Grido del Popolo of 31
October, in which he opposed Tasca’s call for “absolute neutrality.”
On 11 November he passed the exam in the literatures of Romance
languages. In December Professor Bartoli reported to the scholarship
board that Gramsci “suffers periodic nervous crises which prevent
him from carrying out his studies with the proper alacrity.” His scholarship was withdrawn for four months.
In the Winter of 1914-15 he took a course in philosophy taught
by Professor Annibale Pastore who also gave him some private lessons.
On 12 April he sat for an Italian literature exam. It turned out
to be his last exam for he discontinued his university studies.
In November he resumed writing for Il Grido del popolo,
edited by Giuseppe Bianchi, and on 10 December he joined the editorial
staff of Avanti! in Turin.
Gramsci devoted most of his energy to journalism. He wrote theater
reviews, social and political commentary, and the “Sotto la
Mole” column in the Turin edition of Avanti! Nationalists
and war mongering interventionists were among his frequent targets.
Many of his articles were severely critical of the intellectual
and social climate of the time. He gave talks at workers’ study-circles
in Turin on various topics, including Romain Rolland, the Paris
Commune, the French Revolution, and Marx.
February. Gramsci edited the single issue of La Città
Futura (11 February), published by the Young Socialist Federation
of Piedmont. The whole issue consisted of four articles by Gramsci-"Tre
principi, tre ordini” ("Three Principles, Three Orders” ), “Indifferenti” ("The Indifferent” ), “La
disciplina” ("Discipline” ), “Margini” “Margins” )-and
of brief selections from texts by Croce, Salvemini, and Armando
Carlini (a follower of Giovanni Gentile). It amply reflects the
influence of idealism on the young Gramsci. Looking back on this
period in his life, Gramsci would later observe: “My tendency
was still rather Crocean.”
April-July. Writing for Il Grido del popolo, Gramsci praised
Lenin and emphasized the socialist goals of the Russian revolution.
August. Together with other members of the PSI in Turin, Gramsci
prepared for a visit to the city by a delegation from Russia. The
visit culminated on 13 August with a large workers’ demonstration
in support of Lenin and the Russian revolution.
September. The government had crushed the popular uprising which
broke out in Turin on 23 August, leaving over fifty people dead
and arresting virtually all the leaders of the workers’ movement
in the city. Gramsci became secretary of the Turin section of the
PSI and the editor of Il Grido del popolo to which he dedicated
much of his time until October 1918.
20 October. He devoted an entire issue of Il Grido del popolo
to the problem of free trade, with articles by Togliatti, U. G.
Mondolfo, U. Cosmo, B. Buozzi.
18-19 November. As the representative of the provisional executive
committee of the Turin section of the PSI and as the editor of Il
Grido del popolo, Gramsci participated in a clandestine meeting
held in Florence, by the Party’s “intransigent revolutionary
faction” which had been formed in August. Among those attending
the meeting were C. Lazzari, G. M. Serrati, N. Bombacci, and A.
Bordiga. Gramsci shared Bordiga's views on the need for the workers’
movement to intervene actively in the crisis precipitated by the
war. (In October-November the Italian army suffered a disastrous
defeat near Caporetto.)
December. Insisting on the need to integrate political and economic
action with organized cultural activity, Gramsci sought to establish
a proletarian cultural association in Turin. Together with Carlo
Boccardo, Attilio Carena, and Andrea Vig-longo, he formed a small
discussion circle which called itself the “Club of Moral Life.”
On 24 December the national edition of Avanti! published
Gramsci’s article on the significance of the Bolshevik revolution, “La rivoluzione contro il Capitale” ("The
Revolution Against Capital” ). During the following months
he spearheaded a campaign through the pages of Il Grido del Popolo
for the ideological and cultural renewal of the socialist movement.
During the same period he published (with the help of his Polish
friend Aron Wizner) commentary, news, and documents on the revolutionary
developments in Russia.
January. Accused of “voluntarism,” Gramsci responded
with an article, “La critica critica” ("Critical
Criticism” ) in Il Grido del Popolo of 12 January.
May-June. Police reports made frequent reference to Gramsci as
one of the leaders of the intransigent revolutionary faction of
the Socialist Party in Turin. He commemorated Marx's birth in Il
Grido del Popolo (4 May) with the article “Il nostro Marx” ("Our Marx” ), reprinted in L'Avanguardia (26 May).
22 June. He published the article “Per conoscere la rivoluzione
russa” ("Towards Understanding the Russian Revolution” )
in Il Grido del Popolo.
July. Gramsci testified in favor of Maria Giudice, the former editor
in chief of Il Grido del Popolo, in the trial stemming from
the Turin uprising of August 1917.
19 October. Il Grido del Popolo ceased publication and was
replaced by the Turin edition of the Avanti!.
5 December. The first issue of the Turin edition of Avanti!
was published. Ottavio Pastore was the editor in chief; Gramsci,
Togliatti, Alfonso Leonetti, Leo Galetto made up the editorial staff.
Within a few months, the circulation of the newspaper rose from
16,000 to 50,000.
February. In Piero Gobetti's fortnightly Energie Nove (n.
7-8), Gramsci published the article “Stato e sovranità” ("State and Sovereignty” ), responding to Baldino Giuliano's “Perché sono un uomo d'onore” ("Why I Am a
Man of Honor” ).
April. Gramsci endeavored to disseminate socialist ideas among
the peasant-soldiers of the Sassari Brigade, sent to Turin to assist
in public security.
Gramsci, Tasca, Umberto Terracini, and Togliatti founded L'Ordine
Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New
Order: A Review of Socialist Culture). Gramsci was the editorial
secretary, Tasca supported the journal financially (6,000 lire),
while Pia Carena took care of the administrative work. Initially,
the engineer Pietro Mosso ( who used the pseudonym Carlo Petri),
a communist anarchist, was a member of the editorial board.
1 May. The inaugural issue of L'Ordine Nuovo appeared. On
its front page, alongside its title, it displayed the slogan: “Educate
yourselves because we'll need all your intelligence. Stir yourselves
because we'll need all your enthusiasm. Organize yourselves because
we'll need all your strength.” In 1919 the journal had about
300 subscribers and 3,000 readers; the following year it had 1,100
subscribers and printed about 5,000 copies. It was mostly circulated
in Turin and the rest of Piedmont.
Also in May, Gramsci was elected a member of the executive committee
of the Turin section of the PSI led by the abstentionist G. Boero.
June. In “Democrazia operaia” ("Workers’ Democracy” )
in L'Ordine Nuovo (21 June), Gramsci discussed internal commissions
in factories as “centers of proletarian life” and “organs
of workers’ democracy.” He translated documents and reports
on factory life and workers' councils from Russian, French, British
and other pro-labor publications. He published texts by Lenin, Zinoviev,
Bela Kun, and others. At the same time the journal was introducing
its readers to the views of Henri Barbusse, Anatoly Lunacharsky,
Romain Rolland, Max Eastman, Marcel Martinet, Maxim Gorky and other
revolutionary figures prominent in the cultural world.
July. During a political strike of solidarity with the Communist
Republics of Russia and Hungary, Gramsci was arrested and imprisoned
for a few days at the Carceri Nuove in Turin.
On 26 July L'Ordine Nuovo reprinted “Il programma della
frazione comunista” ("Program of the Communist Faction” ),
the first official document of the communist abstensionist faction
of PSI which was inspired by Bordiga. The program was originally
published in Bordiga’s Il Soviet..
13 September. L'Ordine Nuovo published the manifesto “Ai
commissari di reparto delle officine Fiat-Centro e Brevetti” ("To the Workshop Commissars of the FIAT-Centro and Brevetti
In discussions preceding the PSI congress in Bologna (October
5-8), the Ordine Nuovo group decided to support of Serrati's “electoral maximalism” which, in fact, obtained the majority
of the votes. The Bologna congress decided that the PSI should join
the Communist International.
October. Gramsci met Sylvia Pankhurst in Turin. L'Ordine Nuovo
published a series of her “Lettere dall'Inghilterra” ("Letters
from England” ), translated by Togliatti.
1 November. At its annual meeting, the Turin section of FIOM (Federation
of Metalworkers) elected the Workshop Commis-sars on the basis of
a program which provided the foundation for the establishment of
factory councils. “Il programma dei commissari di reparto” ("The Program of Workshop Commis-sars” ) was published
by L'Ordine Nuovo on 8 November.
6 December. The Turin section of the PSI voted its approval of
the factory council movement and established a “study committee” chaired by Togliatti. (Others on the committee included Viglongo,
Boero, Tasca, Matta, and Montagnana.)
15-17 December. At a special session, the Chamber of Labor in Turin
voted in favor of a call to establish factory councils throughout
The question of factory councils was vigorously debated within
socialist circles and in the leftist press.
Sorel, who kept himself informed about the council movement, considered “the small sheet from Turin, L'Ordine Nuovo, much more
interesting than Critica Sociale.”
January-February. In L'Ordine Nuovo (24-31 January) Gramsci
published the “Programma d'azione della sezione socialista
torinese” ("Program of Action of the Turin Socialist Section” ).
Gramsci and Togliatti were reelected to the executive committee
of the PSI in Turin. Participating in the activities of the “school
of culture,” promoted by the Ordine Nuovo, he gave talks
on the Russian revolution. He delivered an oppositional speech at
a meeting of the “Giovane Sardegna” ("Young Sardinia” )
association. Later, he and Pietro Ciuffo formed a Sardinian socialist
circle in Turin.
27 March. The front page of L'Ordine Nuovo issued a call
for a national congress of factory councils. It was addressed to “all Italian workers and peasants” and it was signed by
the executive committee of the PSI section in Turin, the Factory
Council Study Committee, the Ordine Nuovo, and the Turin
28 March. Reacting to a strike at a FIAT plant, the Turin industrialists
proclaimed a general lockout of metallurgical factories and made
demands which, in effect, would have led to the dissolution of the
13 April. In Turin over 200,000 workers responded to a call for
a general strike. All the factories were shut down, transportation
came to a halt, and the whole city was paralyzed. Little support
was forthcoming from the rest of the country, however.
24 April. The general strike ended with a substantial victory for
the industrialists. Management regained control of internal factory
discipline. The strike, supported by Gramsci and the Ordine Nuovo
group, was repudiated by the CGL (General Confederation of Labor)
and by the PSI leadership.
8 May. L'Ordine Nuovo published “Per un rinnovamento
del Partito socialista” ("For a Renewal of the Socialist
Party” ) which Gramsci had written during the early stages of
the metalworkers’ struggle and which had been presented by the representatives
of the Turin section at the meeting of the PSI national council
in Milan on 18-22 April.
8-9 May. Bordiga's communist abstentionist faction held its congress
in Florence. Gramsci was invited as an observer; he argued that
one could not establish a communist party simply on the basis of
23-28 May. The Turin Chamber of Labor held a meeting at which it
approved a plan by Tasca that effectively subordinated the council
movement to trade union control. Gramsci, who attended the meeting,
sharply disagreed with Tasca’s position.
June-July. The rift between Gramsci and Tasca on the issue of the
role and the autonomy of the factory councils became increasingly
open and bitter. Gramsci and L'Ordine Nuovo supported the
initiative to create “communist factory groups” in Turin
which were to constitute the base of the future Communist Party.
Gramsci expounded his views on this question in an article, “I
gruppi comunisti” ("The Communist Groups” ) in L'Ordine
Nuovo (17 July).
Gramsci sent a report on “Il movimento torinese dei Consigli
di fabbrica” ("The Factory Council Movement in Turin” )
to the executive committee of the Communist International. This
report was later published in the Russian, German, and French editions
of the Communist International (November 1920) and in L'Ordine
Nuovo (14 March 1921).
The second congress of the Third International (19 July - 7 August)
set down the conditions (known as the 21 points) for the admission
of socialist parties to the Comintern. The congress called upon
its parties (including the PSI) to expel reformists. Bordiga’s refusal
to participate in parliamentary elections was also denounced. The
Ordine Nuovo group was not represented at the congress, but
Lenin stated that the position articulated by the Ordine Nuovo
militants corresponded with the principles of the Comintern.
August. Distancing himself from Togliatti and Terracini, Gramsci
declined to join the communist electionist faction of the PSI section
in Turin. He gathered around him a small “Communist Education” group which leaned towards Bordiga's abstentionists.
Gramsci published “Il programma dell'Ordine Nuovo” ("The
Program of L'Ordine Nuovo” ) in L'Ordine Nuovo
(14 and 28 August).
September. Gramsci was active in the movement promoting the occupation
of factories by workers and he visited some plants in Milan. In
a series of articles in the Piedmont edition of Avanti! he
warned workers to beware of the illusion that the simple occupation
of factories by itself would resolve the problem of power, and he
underlined the need to establish a workers’ defense militia.
October. Gramsci advocated a fusion of the different groups (abstentionists,
communist electionists, and “Communist Education” ) within
the PSI section of Turin. He published two articles on “Il
partito comunista” ("The Communist Party” ) in L'Ordine
Nuovo (4 September and 9 October). During the first two weeks
of October he participated at the meeting, in Milan, of the different
groups (abstentionists, the Ordine Nuovo group, leftist elements
of the PSI) which favored acceptance of the “21 points” laid down by the Communist International. The communist faction
attending the meeting prepared a “Manifesto-Program” which
was signed by N. Bombacci, A. Bordiga, B. Fortichiari, Gramsci,
F. Misiano, L. Polano, L. Repossi, and U. Terracini, and published
in L'Ordine Nuovo (30 October).
28-29 November. Gramsci attended a meeting at Imola where the communist
faction of the PSI (known as the Imola faction) was formally constituted.
December. Gramsci met Henri Barbusse who delivered a lecture on
the “Clarté” movement at the Casa del Popolo in
Gramsci’s sister, Emma, died in Ghilarza and Gramsci went to Sardinia
to visit his family.
On 24 December L'Ordine Nuovo published its last issue as
a weekly. The following year Piero Gobetti compiled an anthology
of articles which Gramsci had written for the journal-but it was
The Piedmont edition of Avanti! adopted the title L'Ordine
Nuovo. Gramsci was given editorial control of the new paper
which became the organ of the Turin communists.
1 January. The first issue of the daily L'Ordine Nuovo appeared
in Turin with Lassalle's motto on the first page: “To tell
the truth is revolutionary.” Togliatti, Leonetti, O. Pastore,
Mario Montagnana, Giovanni Amoretti were among the members of the
editorial board. Gramsci invited Piero Gobetti to contribute theater
reviews and other articles to the paper. Umberto Calosso ("Sarmati” )
also wrote for the paper.
14 January. Gramsci, Zino Zini and others founded the Institute
of Proletarian Culture (a section of the Proletkult of Moscow) with
an Ordine Nuovo staff member, Giovanni Casale, as its secretary.
15-21 January. Gramsci attended the Seventeenth Congress of the
PSI, held in Livorno. Terracini, Bordiga, Bombacci and the representatives
of the Communist International, Kabakcev and Rákosi, spoke
in favor the Imola ("pure Communist” ) motion. The motion
obtained 58,783 votes. The Florence motion (a “unitarian Communist” motion presented by Serrati) obtained the majority of the votes
(98,028). The Reggio Emilia reformist motion received 14,695 votes.
On 21 January the delegates of the communist faction met separately
and constituted the new “Italian Communist Party: A Section
of the Third International.” Gramsci was a member of the central
committee. The executive committee consisted of Bordiga, Fortichiari,
R. Grieco, L. Repossi, and Terracini.
28 January. Gramsci published an article on the Livorno split, “Caporetto e Vittorio Veneto” ("Caporetto and Vittorio
Veneto” ) in L'Ordine Nuovo. In his journalistic writings
of this period, Gramsci attacked the trade union and reformist “mandarins” as well as the maximalist PSI centrists. He also started writing
a series of articles analyzing the class content of the fascist
27 February. Gramsci met Giuseppe Prezzolini and attended one of
his lectures on “Intellectuals and Workers” at the Casa
del Popolo in Turin.
20 March. Gramsci attended and spoke at the first congress of the
Ligurian regional federation of the Italian Communist Party (PCd'I)
held in Savona.
May. Gramsci wrote “Uomini di carne e ossa” ("Men
of Flesh and Bones” ), in L'Ordine Nuovo (8 May) on the
unsuccessful outcome of a long strike by the FIAT workers.
In the elections of 15 May, Gramsci was included, for the first
time, in the PCd'I’s list of candidates from Turin. He did not get
Accompanied by Mario Giordano, a Fiume legionnaire, Gramsci travelled
to Gardone in the spring expecting to meet Gabriele D'Annunzio.
The meeting, however, never took place.
October. On the eve of the Eighteenth Congress of the PSI, Gramsci
published the article “Il congresso socialista” ("The
Socialist Congress” ) in L'Ordine Nuovo (9 October).
At the congress, Serrati’s maximalist wing reaffirmed its membership
in the Communist International.
December. The executive of the Communist International published
a series of 25 theses elaborating on the call (first issued at the
Third Comintern Congress earlier in the year) for a united front
of working-class parties.
Gramsci participated in the meeting of the PCd'I central committee,
held in Rome on 18-20 December. Along with Bordiga, Graziadei, Sanna,
Tasca, and Terracini, he discussed the party’s positions on the
agrarian question, the trade unions and political tactics in preparation
for the upcoming second national congress of the PCd'I.
L'Ordine Nuovo (31 December) published the Comintern executive’s
call for a “common front.”
16 February. Addressing a meeting of the Turin section of the PCd'I,
Gramsci talked about the guiding principles and tactical course
of the party.
20-24 March. He attended the Second Congress of the PCd'I, in Rome.
the congress approved, by a great majority (31,089 to 4151 votes),
the so-called “Rome theses” which, in effect, rejected
the Comintern’s call for a “common front.” Gramsci considered
the “common front” tactics feasible at the trade union
level, but like others at the congress he seemed opposed to forging
alliances with other political parties. A right wing minority which
included Tasca, Graziadei and Vota emerged at the congress. Gramsci
was chosen to represent the party on the executive committee of
the Communist International in Moscow.
27-29 March. Gramsci spoke at the congress of the Young Communist
Federation in Rome.
April. In early April Gramsci gave a talk to the Turin section
of the PCd'I on the party’s Rome congress. He published the article “L'Italie et la conférence de Gênes” in Correspondance
Internationale (12 April). He was in Genoa during the conference
held by the great powers to discuss the resumption of political
and economic relations with the Soviet Union.
Piero Gobetti published an essay on Gramsci and the Turin communist
movement in Rivoluzione Liberale (2 April).
26 May. Gramsci, who was in poor health, left for Moscow together
with Graziadei and Bordiga.
23 June. He arrived in Moscow by way of the Latvian border.
June. Gramsci attended the second meeting of the Enlarged Executive
of the Communist International. He also became part of the Comintern’s
At Zinoviev’s suggestion he went to recuperate from his state of
exhaustion at the Serebranyi Bor sanatorium on the outskirts of
Moscow. During his stay at the sanatorium he met Julia Schucht.
September. In response to Trotsky’s request, Gramsci wrote a note
on the futurist movement in Italy. Trotsky published it as an appendix
in his book Literature and Revolution (1923).
1-4 October. At its Nineteenth Congress the PSI decided to expel
the reformists and renew its membership in the Communist International.
28 October. “The March on Rome” : the fascists came into
power as Mussolini was named Prime Minister. As fascism consolidated
its grip, the PCd'I was compelled to operate increasingly as a clandestine
organization. At that time, as Trotsky recalled in 1932, no one
in the party “except for Gramsci” thought that a fascist
dictatorship was possible.
November-December. Gramsci attended the Fourth Congress of the
Communist International (5 November - 5 December) at which the “Italian
question” and, particularly, the fusion of the PCd'I and the
PSI, promoted by Zinoviev, was discussed. The majority of the PCd'I
opposed the fusion and agreed to discuss it only because of the
pressure exerted by the Comintern. A joint committee was set up
to oversee the process of merging the two parties: the Communists
were represented by Gramsci (in place of Bordiga who refused to
participate), Scoccimarro and Tasca; and the Socialists by Serrati,
Tonetti and Maffi. The whole effort fell apart within a few months;
the leading members of both parties could hardly function as they
faced arrest, exile, or constant harassment by the fascists.
Gramsci published an article on “Les origines du cabinet
Mussolini” in Correspondance Internationale (20 November).
December. Fascist squads in collusion with the security forces
violently assaulted communists and socialists in Turin. The Ordine
Nuovo was shut down and its editorial staff (including Gramsci’s
brother, Gennaro, who at that time worked for the paper) were charged
with subversion and possession of arms and explosions-they were
February. While Gramsci was still in Moscow, the police in Italy
arrested some members of the PCd'I’s executive committee (Bordiga
and Grieco among them) and several local leaders. The police also
issued a warrant for Gramsci’s arrest. Terracini took charge of
the party’s organization.
March. Following the arrests of the previous month, the ex-ecutive
committee of the PCd'I started reorganizing its leader-ship and
named Scoccimarro, Tasca, Graziadei, and C. Ravera to the central
committee. Scoccimarro and Togliatti entered the executive committee.
April-May. From prison, Bordiga issued “an appeal to the PCd'I
comrades,” in which he criticized the position of the Comintern
executive, particularly regarding the relationship with the PSI.
The appeal, initially accepted with some hesitation by Togliatti,
Terracini, Scoccimarro and others, was rejected by Gramsci who refused
to sign it.
Terracini went to Moscow and Togliatti was entrusted with running
the party in Italy.
12-23 June. Along with Scoccimarro, Tasca, Terracini and Vota,
Gramsci took part in a meeting of the Comintern’s enlarged executive,
and made a speech on the “Italian question.” The enlarged
executive appointed a new PCd'I executive committee which included
representatives of the right wing minority. It was made up of Togliatti,
Scoccimarro, Tasca, Vota, and Fortichiari (replaced by Gennari).
August. Bordiga and Grieco resigned from the central committee
of the PCd'I.
12 September. In a letter to the executive committee of the PCd'I,
Gramsci communicated the decision of the Comintern executive to
start publishing a new workers’ daily with the collaboration of
the group of ” Third Internationalists.” He proposed L'Unità
for a title. In the letter, Gramsci dwelt for the first time on
the issue of an alliance between the poorest strata of the working
class in the North and the peasant masses in the South.
21 September. The members of the new PCd'I executive committee
were arrested together near Milan. They were accused of conspiracy
against the State, but were acquitted and freed after three months
18-26 October. The trial of Bordiga, Grieco, Fortichiari and other
communist leaders ended with a general acquittal.
November. Gramsci was given an assignment in Vienna. (Terracini
replaced him in Moscow.) He had the task of maintaining contact
between the Italian party and the other communist parties in Europe.
3 December. Gramsci arrived in Vienna. Until he found lodg-ings
he was the guest of Josef Frei, the general secretary of the Austrian
Communist Party. He kept in close contact by mail with Terracini,
Togliatti, Leonetti, Scoccimarro, and Tresso.
Between the end of 1923 and the beginning of 1924 he wrote some
articles (under the pseudonym G. Masci) the Correspondance internationale
on the Italian domestic situation and fascism.
January. He planned to establish a new quarterly of Marxist studies
and political culture, entitled Critica Proletaria. He also
wanted to revive L'Ordine Nuovo with the collaboration of
Piero Sraffa and Zino Zini. He tried to persuade Zini to translate
a selection of writings by Marx and Engels on historical materialism.
February. He made the acquaintance of Victor Serge, whom he met
several times afterward.
9 February. Gramsci wrote a letter to Togliatti and Terracini in
which he expounded his conception of the party within the national
and international framework, and expressed the need to form a new
group to lead the PCd'I. He criticized the party’s drift towards
centralization, sectarianism and detachment from the masses. He
also reiterated his refutation of Bordiga’s position.
12 February. The first issue of L'Unità appeared
in Milan. The paper was originally subtitled “Workers’ and
Peasants” Daily,” but, and on 12 August (that is, once
the “Third Internationalists” joined the party) it became “The Organ of the PCd'I.” The editorial group included
O. Pastore, A. Leonetti, G. Amoretti, F. Platone, M. Montagnana,
F. Buffoni, G. Li Causi, L. Répaci (a literary and drama
critic). The circulation of the paper oscillated between a high
of 60-70 thousand copies and a low of 20-30 thousand copies.
-- The February issue carried the article “Il problema di Milano” ["The Problem of Milano” ], in which Gramsci laid out the “national problem” of the conquest of Milanese social-democratic
1 March. The first issue of the new fortnightly series of L'Ordine
Nuovo: A review of Working Class Politics and Culture,
was published in Rome. It declared its purpose on the title page: “L'Ordine Nuovo intends to stir up among the working
and peasant masses a revolutionary vanguard capable of creating
the State of the workers’ and peasants’ councils, and to establish
the conditions for the arrival and the stability of communist society.” Gramsci's editorial, “Capo” ("Chief” ), commemorated
Lenin. In the second issue (15 March), he published “Contro
il pessimismo” ("Against Pessimism” ).
Gramsci wrote an article on “Le Vatican” for Correspondance
internationale (12 March).
6 April. Gramsci was elected to parliament by a constituency of
the Veneto region.
12 May. Gramsci returned to Italy after an absence of two years-his
immunity as parliamentary deputy protected him from arrest. A few
days later he attended the PCd'I national conference, held secretly
near Como. Gramsci criticized Bordiga's political line which, however,
received the support of the majority. Gramsci became a member of
the party’s executive committee.
June. He moved to Rome and lodged with the Passarge family, who
considered him “a very serious professor.”
-- Togliatti took Gramsci’s place as delegate to Moscow for the
fifth congress of the Communist International.
10 June. The fascists murdered Giacomo Matteotti (Reformist Socialist
Party) who had made a speech in parliament attacking Mussolini and
denouncing fascist violence. Gramsci attended the meetings held
by the parliamentary opposition parties. (The joint executive of
these parties was called the Committee of Sixteen, and their decision
to withdraw in protest from parliament became known as the Aventine
Secession.) Gramsci proposed an appeal to the masses and a political
general strike. During the following weeks he campaigned against
the passivity and the legalistic maneuvering of the Aventine group;
he wanted to rally the workers into a unified oppositional force.
He took charge of the political operations of L'Unità
and the propaganda section of the party.
At the fifth congress of the Comintern in Moscow (17 June - 8 July),
a campaign was under way to Bolshevize the member parties, and to
reaffirm the common front strategy with its call for a “workers’
and peasants’ government.”
Togliatti and Bordiga were elected to the executive committee
of the Communist International.
July. At the PCd'I’s central committee meetings, Gramsci spoke
on the response to the fascist crisis by his party and other anti-fascists.
August. The “Third Internationalist” faction of the PSI
dissolved itself and entered the PCd'I. G. M. Serrati, F. Maffi
and A. Marabini, among others, became members of the central committee.
On 10 August, in Moscow, Gramsci’s wife Julia gave birth to their
first son, Delio.
On 13-14 August Gramsci, as general secretary of the party, gave
a report to the central committee on “I compiti del Partito
comunista di fronte alla crisi della società capitalistica
italiana” ("The Tasks of the Communist Party in the Face
of the Crisis of Italian Capitalist society” ), later published
in L'Ordine Nuovo (1 September) under the title “La
crisi italiana” ("The Italian Crisis” ).
He also attended party meetings in Turin and Milan.
September. Gramsci started the transformation of the organizational
structure of the party on the basis of “cells.” He attended
the clandestine meeting of the party’s near Como. He also appeared
at the provincial congress in Naples, where he talked in the name
of the central committee opposing Bordiga.
October. He attended several provincial party congresses where
the new party policies were discussed. On 19-22 October, at a meeting
of the party’s central committee in Rome, he spoke on the Italian
political situation in view of the reopening of parliament.
On 20 October the communist parliamentary group proposed the transformation
of the Aventine Secession into a permanent “anti-parliament.” When the other parties rejected the proposal, the communist deputies
abandoned the Aventine group and decided to return to parliament.
Towards the end of October, Gramsci visited Sardinia. He attended
a clandestine regional party congress near Cagliari and spent some
days with his family in Ghilarza.
12 November. At the reopening of parliament, the communist deputy
Luigi Repossi entered the chamber and read an anti-fascist declaration.
The entire communist group returned to parliament two weeks later.
December. Gramsci spent a few weeks in Milan.
January. In early January, Gramsci attended the clandestine meeting
of the party’s executive committee, held once again near Como.
Towards the end of January he met his sister-in-law Tatiana (Tanya)
Schucht for the first time, in Rome.
February. Gramsci helped set up the PCd'I’s correspondence school
and undertook to prepare the study materials.
March-April. Gramsci travelled to Moscow for the fifth enlarged
executive meeting of the Comintern (21 March - 6 April). He spoke
on the work of agitation and propaganda carried on by the PCd'I.
April-May. The first batches of study notes for the party’s correspondence
school were printed and distributed.
May. On 11-12 May the central committee of the PCd'I met to start
preparations for the party’s third national congress. Gramsci opened
the discussions with a report, “La situazione interna del nostro
partito ed i compiti del prossimo congresso” ("The Internal
Situation in Our Party and the Tasks of the Forthcoming Congress” )
which was later published in L'Unità (3 July).
Gramsci made his only speech in parliament on 16 May, attacking
proposed legislation banning secret organizations.
June. Bordiga’s followers published a letter in L'Unità
announcing the formation of the “Comitato d'Intesa tra gli
elementi della Sinistra” (Committee of Accord between components
of the Left). This led to a heated controversy in the pages of the
paper; Gramsci took the lead in attacking Bordiga’s factionalism.
July. The PCd'I central committee held a meeting to discuss the
Bordigian current. The Communist International defined the Comitato
d'Intesa as factionalist and called for its dissolution. During
July and August, Gramsci attended numerous meetings in various parts
of Italy to discuss the internal situation of the party. In August
he met Bordiga in Naples, and held a long discussion with him in
the presence of other Communist Party members from the region. The
Comitato d'Intesa was dissolved following discussions which involved
Jules Humbert-Droz, a Comintern representative.
August-September. In collaboration with Togliatti, Gramsci formulated
the theses to be presented at the third national congress of the
Fall. Julia and Delio (accompanied by Julia’s sister Eugenie) joined
Gramsci in Rome. Julia worked at the Soviet embassy.
24 October. The police searched Gramsci's room at the Passarge
December. Gramsci spoke at the party’s regional congress in Milan,
held secretly in the open countryside.
January. Gramsci crossed the border into France clandestinely to
attend the Third National Congress of the PCd'I in Lyon (20-26 January).
The congress overwhelmingly approved the theses presented by Gramsci
and his supporters within the party’s leadership-they received 90.8%
of the votes while Bordiga’s faction mustered only 9.2%. Gramsci,
Togliatti, Scoccimarro, Camilla Ravera and P. Ravazzoli were among
the members of the newly elected executive committee.
February. At a meeting of the party’s leadership, on 6 February,
Gramsci talked about workers’ and peasants’ committees and about
the need to transform the trade unions from organizations made up
of individual members into mass organisms.
He dictated to Riccardo Ravagnan a report on the Lyon congress, “Cinque anni di vita del partito” ("The Party’s First
Five Years” ) for publication in L'Unità (24 February.
May. Gramsci wrote an article for L'Unità (14 May)
to commemorate G. M. Serrati who had died suddenly four days earlier.
L'Unità launched a campaign, inspired by Gramsci,
to raise funds in support of the British miners’ strike.
August. At a meeting of the PCd'I’s executive committee held on
2-3 August, Gramsci delivered a report dealing with the Italian
economic crisis and with the party’s approach towards the working
masses and the middle classes. The first part of the report, “Un
esame della situazione italiana” ("A Study of the Italian
Situation” ) was later published in Stato Operaio (March
Gramsci spent a brief vacation with his son Delio in Bolzano. His
wife, Julia, who was expecting their second child, returned to Moscow
where Giuliano was born on 30 August.
September. The agrarian congress of the PCd'I, held clandestinely
in Bari, approved the “theses on peasant labor” directly
inspired by Gramsci.
October. Gramsci, on behalf of the political bureau of the PCd'I,
sent a letter to the central committee of the Soviet Communist Party
on 14 October expressing his concerns about the threat to Bolshevik
unity which was being posed by the internal struggles between the
Stalin-Bukharin majority and the Trotsky-Zinoviev-Kamenev bloc.
Gramsci warned his Russian comrades that “today you risk destroying
your own handiwork, you are degrading and may even annul completely
the leading position which the CPSU acquired under Lenin’s leadership.
It seems that your absorption in Russian questions is making you
lose sight of the international implications of these questions
. . . ” Appealing for unity, Gramsci stated in his conclusion
that “we would like to be sure that the majority of the CPSU
central committee does not intend to go too far, that it does not
intend to abuse its victory and take excessive measures.” Togliatti,
the PCd'I representative in Moscow, considered the letter inappropriate
and withheld it. He wrote back to Gramsci, arguing that it was necessary
to support the correct position of the majority rather than dwell
on the split itself and its consequences. Gramsci, in turn, responded
with a note rejecting Togliatti’s arguments. By the end of the month,
Trotsky and Kamenev were expelled from the CPSU executive, while
Zinoviev was removed from the presidency of the Comintern.
Gramsci drafted his long essay on “Alcuni temi della quistione
meridionale” ("Some Aspects of the Southern Question” ),
but never completed it.
A new attempt on Mussolini’s life on 31 October sparked widespread
fascist violence and repressive measures against all oppositional
November. J. Humbert-Droz was sent to Italy by the Comintern to
explain the controversy going on within the Bolshevik party to the
executive committee of the PCd'I at a secret meeting held near Genoa
on 1-3 November. Gramsci was travelling from Rome on his way to
meeting when he was detained by the police in Milan and compelled
to return immediately to Rome.
8 November. The fascist government had just issued its “Ex-ceptional
decrees” and Gramsci was arrested, together with other Communist
Party deputies-even though they were supposed to be protected by
the rules of parliamentary immunity. He was placed in solitary confinement
at the Regina Coeli prison in Rome. The following day the fascist
majority in the Chamber of Deputies declared that all the parliamentary
members who belonged to the Aventine Secession and the Communist
Party had forfeited their seats. Also on the same day (9 November)
the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill presented by Mussolini which
created the Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State.
18 November. Gramsci was charged under article 184 of the newly
enacted Single Text of Laws on Public Security, and he was sentenced
to five years of internment. He learned of his sentence the following
day. At first it seemed that he would be sent to Somalia, but he
was soon told that he was being assigned to one of the Italian islands.
25 November. Gramsci left the Regina Coeli prison. After two nights
at the Carmine prison in Naples, he was transported further south
to Palermo, where he remained for eight days and was told that his
final destination was the island of Ustica.
7 December. Gramsci arrived in Ustica. During his stay on the island
he lived with five other political prisoners: Bordiga, two other
communists from Aquila, and two former socialist deputies, Paolo
Conca and Giuseppe Sbaraglini. He helped organize a school among
the prisoners-Bordiga was in charge of science while Gramsci taught
history and studies German. Gramsci was able to obtain books thanks
to an open account established for him at a Milan bookshop by his
friend, the economist Piero Sraffa who at that time was a professor
of economics at the University of Cagliari.
14 January. The military court in Milan issued a warrant for Gramsci’s
arrest, signed by judge Enrico Macis. The Special Tribunal for the
Defense of the State began functioning soon afterwards, on 1 February.
20 January. Gramsci left Ustica for the prison in Milan. The journey
lasted 19 days, with stops in the prisons of Palermo, Naples, Cajanello,
Isernia, Sulmona, Castellammare Adriatico, Ancona, and Bologna.
7 February. Gramsci arrived at the prison of San Vittore in Milan.
For a while he was kept in isolation. On 9 February he was interrogated
by the examining magistrate Macis. He ob-tained permission to read
some newspapers and applied for a double subscription to the prison
library so that he could borrow eight books a week. He also received
books and journals from outside prison. He was allowed to write
two letters a week.
March. Gramsci wrote to Tatiana Schucht about his study plans and
listed four topics which especially interested him: the history
of Italian intellectuals, comparative linguistics, Pirandello's
drama, and serial fiction. He was refused permission to write in
his cell. He decided to resume his study of languages.
Another interrogation by Macis took place on 20 March.
April. Gramsci moved to a new cell. He suffered from insomnia and
was unable to sleep more than three hours a night. During the exercise
period he met Ezio Riboldi, a communist deputy and former “Third
May. Tatiana Schucht moved from Rome to Milan in order to be better
able to help Gramsci.
2 June. Gramsci was interrogated once again by the magistrate Macis.
August-September. In August, Gramsci received a visit from his
brother Mario. (Mario Gramsci was a fascist sympathizer.) Some time
later Piero Sraffa also went to him. Tatiana Schucht paid him frequent
visits between September and January.
October. Gramsci requested journals and books about Sardinia. He
asked his mother and Tatiana Schucht to send him his copy of Breviario
di neolinguistica (Handbook of Neolinguistics) by Bertoni
and Bartoli. He learned of his wife Julia’s health problems.
November. Gramsci shared a cell with Enrico Tulli, the former editor
of L'Unità. He asked for Machiavelli's works. It appeared
that his trial would take place in late January or early February.
Towards the end of the year Gramsci was visited by the chief health
officer of the prison.
13 February. Gramsci sent a letter to the examining magistrate
Macis, denouncing the intrigues of a certain Corrado Melani, a police
agent who was posing as a dissident in the hopes of entrapping Gramsci.
19 March. Gramsci received the order (issued by the prosecutor’s
office of the Special Tribunal) to stand trial. He named Giovanni
Ariis from Milan as his personal lawyer.
April. Towards the end of the month, Gramsci was informed that
his trial was scheduled to start on 28 May. He anticipated a prison
sentence of between 14 and 17 years.
May. Gramsci and a group of other communist prisoners were transported
to Rome on 11 May. The following day he was placed in a cell at
Regina Coeli with Terracini and Scoccimarro.
The show trial against Gramsci and twenty-one other PCd'I leaders
by the Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State took place
in Rome between 28 May and 4 June. Referring to Gramsci, the prosecutor
Michele Isgrò declared: “We must prevent this brain
from functioning for 20 years.”
June. On 4 June, Gramsci received one of the heaviest sentences
handed down at the trial: 20 years, 4 months and 5 days.
Gramsci was supposed to be sent to the prison of Portolongone.
However, a medical examination confirmed that he was in poor health,
suffering from a uremic disorder and nervous exhaustion. He was
sent, instead, to the prison at Turi, near Bari-a supposedly “special” penal institution because infirm prisoners were assigned to it.
July. He left Rome for Turi on 8 June. The journey lasted twelve
days with long stops in Caserta, Benevento and Foggia.
On 19 July, Gramsci arrived in Turi, where he received his prisoner’s
identification number, 7047, and was placed in a cell with five
other political prisoners. He was allowed to write to his relatives
every fifteen days. Carlo Gramsci initiated a petition to obtain
for his brother a single cell and permission to write in it.
August. Gramsci was placed in a single cell, next door to the guardroom-he
was under constant surveillance and the noise often prevented him
December. Severely handicapped by his uremic disorder, Gramsci
had great difficulty walking. For a long time he remained seated
during the exercise period, or else had to propped up by fellow
Tatiana Schucht traveled from Milan to Turi and was able to have
a few visits with Gramsci.
January. Gramsci obtained permission to write in his cell. He planned
to read systematically and to concentrate on certain topics. His
book requests reflected these plans. At first he did some translations.
February. Gramsci made a list of “Main Topics”, dated
8 February 1929, on the first page of a notebook which he entitled “First Notebook.”
March. Gramsci wrote to Tatiana Schucht about his plans to focus
his studies on: ninteenth-century Italian history with special attention
to the formation and development of intellectual groups; the theory
of history and historiography; Americanism and Fordism.
April. He received a visit from Tatiana Schucht.
July. Gramsci asked Tatiana Schucht for information about Terracini’s
appeal of the Special Tribunal sentence. He also requested a copy
of the Acts of Parliament which contained a transcript of the debate
on the government’s Concordat with the Vatican (signed on 11 February
November. Gramsci received a visit from his brother Carlo.
December. Tatiana Schucht moved to Turi, where she remained until
February. Gramsci asked his brother Carlo to obtain a copy of the
sentence handed down by the Special Tribunal on 4 June 1928.
April. He received a copy of the Special Tribunal sentence.
June. Gramsci’s brother, Gennaro, visited him in prison. He told
Gramsci about the bitter divisions which had split the PCd'I leadership
and culminated in the expulsion of Leonetti, Tresso and Ravazzoli.
July. Gramsci sentence was reduced by one year, 4 months and 5
days. He learned that his wife was not doing well and had to spend
time convalescing in a clinic. His brother Gennaro paid him another
August. Gramsci wrote to his brother Carlo, asking him to initiate
a petition to allow Gramsci to read certain books he was prohibited
from having, including works written by Trotsky after his expulsion
from the Soviet Union. The letter was withheld by the prison authorities.
September. Gramsci himself submitted a petition in order to obtain
certain books which he had mentioned in the earlier letter to his
brother. The petition was accepted. Sometime between late September
and early October he received another visit from his brother Carlo.
November. Gramsci was suffering from insomnia, caused partly by
the prison conditions.
November-December. Towards the end of the year, some other communist
prisoners (among them E. Tulli, E. Riboldi, A. Lisa, G. Lay, A.
Scucchia) were brought to Turi. Gramsci, who had already started
a series political conversations with fellow prisoners during the
exercise period, organized a cycle of discussions on such topics
as the role of intellectuals in the party, the relation of the party
to the military, the formation of a constituent assembly. In 1928-29
the Comintern abandoned its common front policy, declared that capitalism
had become unstable, and defined social democracy as reactionary
(theory of “social fascism” ). The PCd'I accepted these
views, and foresaw the radicalization of the class struggle and
an imminent crisis in the fascist regime. Gramsci, however, predicted
that the country first had to pass through a “democratic” phase, and he suggested that the party employ the phrase “Constituent
Assembly” as a slogan. His position provoked strong negative
reactions among some of the other communist prisoners, and Gramsci
discontinued the discussions.
March. Gramsci received a visit from his brother Carlo.
April-May. In April the PCd'I held its fourth congress in Germany.
In a conversation with his fellow communist prisoners about the
likelihood of a communist revolution in Italy, Gramsci reiterated
his view that the country first had to go though a “democratic” phase.
June. Gramsci received some of the works of Karl Marx in the French
edition published by Costes. He also obtained a report by the Economist
on the first Soviet five-year plan.
July. Gramsci received permission to correspond with his relatives
weekly, rather than twice a month.
August. Gramsci became severely ill. His brother Carlo went to
see him. His friend Sraffa also travelled to Turi but was denied
permission to visit Gramsci.
September. He sent to Tatiana Schucht the sketch of an essay on
Canto X of Dante’s Inferno, and asked her to forward it to
October. He petitioned Mussolini for permission to continue reading
the periodicals to which he subscribed. Permission was partially
granted in December.
During the year, the possibility of an exchange of political prisoners
between Italy and the Soviet Union was explored. Gramsci would have
been a beneficiary, but nothing came of the initiative.
May. Gramsci received a visit from his brother Carlo.
August. Tatiana Schucht suggested that Gramsci should be examined
by a trustworthy doctor. Gramsci wrote to Tatiana (29 August) that
his health had become extremely precarious.
15 September. Without informing Gramsci, Tatiana Schucht submitted
a formal petition to Mussolini asking that a private doctor be allowed
to examine Gramsci. In October, Gramsci was visited by the prison
November. Amnesties were granted on the tenth anniversary of the
fascist regime. Gramsci’s sentence was reduced to 12 years and 4
months. In the following months Piero Sraffa tried to persuade the
authorities that Gramsci was entitled to conditional freedom. The
fascist government insisted on obtaining from Gramsci himself a
petition for clemency-a condition which Gramsci found unacceptable.
Following orders from the Ministry of the Interior, the political
prisoners at Turi were placed in solitary confinement. With the
complicity of some guards, Gramsci was still able to converse with
a few other political prisoners, among them S. Pertini (a socialist
who much later became President of Italy), A. Fontana, and G. Trombetti.
30 December. Gramsci's mother died in Ghilarza. His family withheld
the information from him for a very long time.
January. Tatiana Schucht moved to Turi where she remained, except
for short intervals, until the summer. She visited Gramsci frequently.
February. The government finally granted permission for Gramsci
to be examined by a doctor of his choice.
7 March. Gramsci suffered another health crisis. For about two
weeks, a young communist fellow prisoner, Gustavo Trombetti, spent
his nights and days at Gramsci’s bedside to help nurse him back
Gramsci told Tatiana Schucht that he would seek a transfer to the
infirmary of some other prison.
G. Trombetti was allowed to move permanently into Gramsci’s cell
in order to help him and look after him. However, Gramsci’s permission
to write in his cell was temporarily revoked.
On 20 March, Professor Umberto Arcangeli, an outside doctor, examined
Gramsci in prison. Arcangeli declared that “Gramsci cannot
survive for long under the present conditions; I consider it necessary
to transfer him to a hospital or clinic, unless he can be granted
conditional freedom.” Gramsci, once again, refused to ask for
a pardon which would have allowed him to leave prison and seek treatment
under better conditions.
April. Professor Filippo Saporito, the prison doctor, visited Gramsci.
May-June. Professor Arcangeli's statement was published in Humanité
(May) and in Soccorso Rosso (June). In Paris a com-mittee
was set up to campaign for the release of Gramsci and other victims
of the fascist regime. Romain Rolland and Henri Barbusse were members
of the committee. Azione Antifascista devoted most of its
June issue to Gramsci. The Notebooks of Giustizia e Libertà
(August) published an essay on “Gramsci and the Ordine Nuovo” signed “Fabrizio” (U. Calosso).
July. Gramsci and Trombetti were moved to a quieter cell.
August. Gramsci had several visits from his brother Carlo and Tatiana
Schucht. Carlo took charge of the request to have Gramsci transferred
from the Turi prison.
October. Gramsci received the authorization to leave the Turi prison
and enter Giuseppe Cusumano’s clinic in Formia.
The Special Tribunal rejected the claim that the amnesty decree
of November 1932 entitled Gramsci to freedom.
19 November. Gramsci left the Turi prison. He stopped for about
two weeks in the infirmary of the prison at Civitavecchia. Tatiana
Schucht visited him during his stay there.
December. Gramsci arrived at the Cusumano clinic in Formia on 7
December. He was still a prisoner; the police guarded his room and
watched the area surrounding the clinic very closely.
While Gramsci was in Formia, Tatiana Schucht visited him weekly.
His brother Carlo and his friend Sraffa also went to see him. Gramsci
started reading again and after a while he resumed writing in his
July. On 12 July, Gramsci was examined by Professor Vittorio Puccinelli,
a doctor from the Quisisana clinic in Rome. On 15 July, Gramsci
asked to be transferred to another clinic, especially since he needed
a hernia operation.
September. Outside Italy, the campaign for Gramsci’s release gained
intensity. Romain Rolland published a pamphlet on him.
October. Gramsci based a new petition for conditional freedom,
on certain clauses in the penal code and in prison regulations which
deal with the rights of sick prisoners. On 25 October he was granted
On a few occasions he left the clinic for a few brief outings with
his brother Carlo, Tatiana Schucht, and Piero Sraffa. The police,
suspecting that he might flee, watched and recorded all his movements.
April. Gramsci renewed his request for transfer to another clinic.
June. Gramsci’s health suffered another serious setback and, once
again, he asked to leave the Cusumano clinic.
24 August. Gramsci left the Cusumano clinic accompanied by Professor
Puccinelli, and entered the Quisisana clinic in Rome.
In the following months Tatiana Schucht was almost always with
him. His brother Carlo saw him frequently. Piero Sraffa also paid
him a visit.
Gramsci resumed regular correspondence with his wife and two sons
April. Gramsci sentence expired on 21 April. He had planned to
move to Sardinia, but he was still a patient at the Quisisana clinic
when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on the evening of 25 April.
Tatiana Schucht stayed at his bedside. Gramsci died early in the
morning on 27 April. The funeral took place on 28 April under police
surveillance. His ashes were buried in a common grave at the Verano
cemetery; in late 1938 they were transferred to their final resting
place in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.